I met Omid, a filmmaker from Copenhagen, in Mizu café in Töölö. The café was small and felt like hanging out in a Japanese family's living room. Children's toys scattered around pillows and Marimekko fabrics in a Japanese restaurant, sure, why not! With its heartily welcoming owners and laid-back atmosphere I felt right at home.

Apparently the café's been there for 3 years, yet I've never passed by it. Aside from coffee they serve lunch, but a tip from a friend – what you really want to taste here are the sweet desserts, especially matcha tiramisu and matcha roll. 

We talked with Omid about the feeling of home. He's quite the world traveller, having lived already in 5 different countries. For him, home is the café in the corner that you always return to. 

I feel like our conception of many places is like we’ve already been there, either from movies or from what they’ve heard from their friends or something. Everyone ‘knows’ what Paris or Rome is supposed to be like. But for Helsinki it was a complete blank for me. I mean, I knew that such a place existed – I even think I’ve heard I have some distant relatives living here – but I never heard someone say like ‘hey, this product comes from Finland’. All I knew was that it’s a good quality of life, the same as in Denmark. 

First time I came here was Midsummer, so it was crazy empty. I got a bit scared actually. We were driving around the city, around the main cathedral and there was nobody on the streets, but it was daylight and a nice weather. It was empty, just a few Asian tourists there. So I was asking someone ‘where’s all the people gone to?’ I was a bit shocked. 
I’ve lived in many places around the world, but I always have to find a bar or restaurant that feels like home, like I can return there anytime. When I lived in Paris, I had my café in the corner, and now in Copenhagen there’s a place I always go to. When I lived here in Helsinki for a while, that place was Bar Llamas.

And Sompasaari, where it seems you’re very far from the center with the boats everywhere, rubbles, out of order, trashy, the decadence, but still you can see the city across the bay. The whole area is so interesting ‘cause it’s just a huge area of what must be really expensive land, totally unbuilt, and for the people to use. I think it’s gonna be a super trendy area in 10 year’s time.

My favorite city so far has been Copenhagen, where I live now. But then when I lived in Los Angeles I really missed Helsinki. I think it’s the feeling of a smaller city, but at the same time you don’t feel limited at all. I lived here for a few months, I’ve been back and forth, but I still don’t feel like I’ve seen everything.

Omid's favorites: Sompasaari area and its public sauna Sompasauna, Llamas bar (unfortunately, R.I.P. since 2017), Los Cojones (Annankatu 15) and Bar Bhangra (Runeberginkatu 28)

Our meet-up place: Mizu café, Museokatu 28 (Töölö district) 

Pssst! Omid's short films can be seen here