Phases of emigrant life. Why we don't become what we want to

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Emigration/Immigration is like the army. You start off as a private x and if you happen to get into the right circumstances, if you have balls to take advantage of them and if Ms Success becomes your best friend, you can even advance to becoming a general. Even the president of Lithuania Mr Valdas Adamkus started off in the USA as a blue collar worker in a Chicago factory of car parts.

Once you emigrate life starts evolving in certain phases:

* Workaholism
* Wanking
* Musing (in other words meditations on either to come back home or find a "real" job)
* Rebellion (when you knock on every door possible desperate to get that "real" job)
* Desperation (when you realize nobody is going to welcome you with hands wide open)
* Stubborness (when you persist and finally decide to go to study despite the fact you think you already know everything, but you realize this is to become your major trump card in a competitive labour market)
* etc,
* etc,
* etc,
until a possible "happy end".

Some of us get stuck in the phase of workaholism, others progress in wanking, only some of us reach the critical point of rebellion and only a handful make it through the phase of desperation. Obviously if nappies get in your way life takes a U turn. And the phase of musing is destined to repeat now and again.

There is a relatively new website in Lithuania that calls itself Lithuanian journalists' website (despite the fact it omits the largest online news magazine in the country in its links). A recent debate on the website was brought to my attention by a good virtual friend of mine who is also the author of one of the best Lithuanian blogs (and I am really looking forward to an English one - damn our ancient language).

Anyway. The point of the debate was whether journalists who have emigrated and possibly are picking strawberries in UK farms should still be called journalists or not.

You see, in my country journalists are playing gods since people stopped believing in the state, government or Parliament. The most recent Eurobarometer polls reflect that 79 percent of Lithuanians don't trust the Parliament (as opposed to the average of 43 percent in the EU), 67 percent don't trust the Government (as opposed to the average of 53 in the EU). On the other hand the level of trust in the mass media is way larger than that of the average EU citizen.

As a result a tag "journalist" is highly influential. Many get the taste of domination and manipulation with public opinion while still in their 20s. Some are not 30 yet but they've already tried pretty much every single kind of media in the country, they've worked in all major newspapers, TV stations and radio (the joys of young democracy - diversity, or perhaps as the saying goes we're jacks of all trades yet masters of none). And in a country where the main language is a language spoken by a mere 3 mln people this can become an issue if you aspire to be more than a jack of all trades. Thus some pack their suitcases and leave. Of course if we were an English speaking country (like UK, the USA or Ireland) hordes of us would be flooding the BBC, the Guardian, Sky News and the likes. But alas, it is not easy to become a journalist in a foreign country. What's left is strawberry fields, wine shops and white table cloths. And once you start in that stage it is up to you if you want to move up the ladder. But that is the advantage of Western countries - an opportunity to start everything all over again.

Perhaps I am young and dumb, but I admire the so called "American dream" stories. After all even the father of American press journalism Joseph Pulitzer came to the USA without much English and spend many hours in the library in front of the dictionary before revolutionising The New York World.


On Yer Bike

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My ramshackle bike. Goddam it.

Last night noticed that the back wheel is crooked and that meant no Dublin City Cycle for me. And it is not worth repairing... :(

Yes, I know it is not Tour de France and, yes, I realize Dublin streets are not the best for cycling (compared to Amsterdam or Copenhagen). Have you seen the poor eco-friendly bike-taxis stuck in the traffic? My dear friends, if you want to go eco-friendly, Dublin desperately needs less cars and more cycle paths.

In a rather recent discussion in "Metro" newspaper's Letters to the Editor section somebody had pointed out this issue. At the moment a cycle path in Dublin most of the time is a 2 feet wide lane painted in red on the bus lane. And those double-decker busses are freaking scary...

Anyway. I guess Dublin City Cycle (a joint initiative by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Dublin City Council and the Dublin Transportation Office) aims to encourage more people to swap their cars for bikes.

If my observation is correct, there were about 300 participants in the DCC. Lots of families, a few foreigners, no obese people, plenty of smiling faces and (surprise!) - sunshine!

All photos of Dublin City Cycle © Lina Zigelyte


Roundabout Roma saga: the end (in the meantime)

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Good bye, arrivederci, adios amigos, ou revoir, auf wiedersehen, пока, uz redzesanos, slán leat, ha det bra...

The saga of nearly a hundred Roma who had been camping besides one of the busiest Irish motorways for over two months ended on Wednesday evening, as the plane took off from Dublin airport.

There were no riots, their farewell seemed to be quieter than a Saturday night in Temple Bar (the heart of Dublin's night life). Once Roma arrive in Romania, they will be transported by bus to their respective home villages.

"If you are going to work, welcome," wrote Anne Byrne in a letter to the Irish Independent. "If you are here to benefit from a better welfare system than you have in your own country, then go back and work on improving your own country, don't bleed ours dry."

One might start questioning Irish tolerance, but this story for me is an example of diplomacy - a mere fact of the problem solved peacefully should become an example for any country who is facing similar issues.

When this story broke many were saying that the problem of Roma integration should be solved on the EU level. I can't but agree with that and in a way I am happy I am not the one in the position to implement changes. I just have a funny feeling if this doesn't happen, Roundabout Roma saga might start all over again.


Why it might be hard for foreigners to work in Lithuania

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Poland has introduced cheaper visas to attract workers from neighbouring countries in an attempt to replace Poles emigrating to Western Europe. Nationals of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine will be able to work in Poland for up to three months, twice a year. According to BBC, Poland's economy is enjoying a boom, but is suffering labour shortages since more than a million Poles have left for EU states, notably the UK and Ireland.

The shortages are so acute, the authorities have even considered using soldiers and prisoners to help build the infrastructure.

Personally I don't believe a million has emigrated, the figure must be at least a few times bigger - have a look around Dublin. Polish ads in the newspapers, in the bus stops, zapraszamy (welcome in Polish) on the hairdressers, etc. Anyway. Anybody intrested in 233 euro minimum salary please apply.

By the way, my country has been considering a similar measure, yet apart from even smaller minimum salary - 202 euro (minus flat 27 percent income tax, which should be decreased to 24 as of 1st of Janurary 2008), foreigners might have to face xenophobia.

A comment on the largest news web site in Lithuania DELFI on a story about how difficult Lithuanian language might turn out to be for foreigners:

"Asians have started to flood our country yet, bombs in the market are about to start exploding".

The comments are not reviewed a priori and the website is greatly cooperative with institutions such as Attorney General and police in helping to disclose authors of such comments, yet anonymity is like a fig tree leaf that helps to spit out all kinds of intolerant thoughts and conceal your identity at the same time. And comments like the one above unfortunately are quite common on the stories about immigration. Freedom of speach unveils impotency of mind to adjust to the world evolving.


Gordian Knot on M50: Roundabout Roma vs Irish Tolerance

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"Human crisis or welfare tourism". The front page of The Irish Times supplement Weekend Review on the 21st of July. Alison Healy's story about 32 Roma adults and 22 children encamped on M50 motorway roundabout near Dublin airport.

It is Ireland's busiest road and Roma have been living here since early May. It took nearly three months to break Irish patience and now the story is all over the place: The Irish Times, BBC, The Observer, etc.

Like a refugee camp

According to The Observer, conditions at the camp have deteriorated over the past few days. The scene resembles the slums of an Asian city rather than 21st-century Ireland.

The air around the two camps reeks of human excreta and rotting food; children as young as two play in mud and filth; grass verges to either side of the families' makeshift shelters are covered in rubbish and colonies of tiny flies attach themselves to anything that moves. The tents they sleep in have been flooded during the recent heavy rains. A number of parents have even put down discarded posters from the last general election; one child could be seen last Thursday having a nap on top of a picture of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Last Thursday two children from the camps were taken to Temple Street Hospital in central Dublin following an outbreak of severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Non-governmental organisations campaigning for the Roma to stay in the state have claimed that there is a danger of disease breaking out.

Photo by J P. Ireland Photoline

In A. Healy's words, the conditions resemble a refugee camp, but when the people are asked why they don't take up a Government offer to be flown home, the answer is always the same. "I no want to go back to Romania. I die from the hunger in Romania. Here I have somewhere where I can sleep", says one of these Roma people in English which far exceeds many Lithuanians' and Poles' who have been flooding Ireland since 2004 - after being accepted to the EU.

Finito to welfare tourism

Unlike Lithuanians or citizens of any of 10 countries who joined the EU in 2004 Romanians and Bulgarians are restricted from working in Ireland unless they have a work visa or are self-employed, although they do have freedom of movement within the EU. They are not entitled to social welfare payments, child benefits or emergency accommodation.

It seems that Irish government has learned from its previous mistakes when in the years before my country had joined the EU hundreds of my fellow-citizens surged towards the generous embrace of the Celtic Tiger. Some of them on the claims that they've been blackmailed by gypsies were seeking asylum here (and I happened to witness such an interview in the Department of Justice as a translator). If their wives gave birth to a child prior the decision thanks to the newborn baby they would become residents of Ireland and thus get the right to work. The days of "welfare tourism" are way behind now.

Romanians are not among the supporters

Pavee Point - a group supporting Irish Travellers' in Ireland - seems to be have become the main voice in the fight for Government's intervention in the "Roundabout Roma" situation. "They don't need Hilton Hotel, they just want one chance to work", The Irish Times quotes George Dancea, director of the Roma support Group, which was set up by Pavee Point Traveller's Centre. Pavee Point is also calling on the Government to provide emergency accommodation for the group.

This call is supported by 20 non-governmental organizations, yet strangely (?) enough the Romanian Community of Ireland is not among them. Quite the contrary. The groups' chairman Vasile Ross points out that if the Government gives in to Pavee Point's pressure, more Roma will come. And some figures say that there might be about 2 mln of them in Romania alone. "This is how Roma work. They will try to gain access. Give them a finger and they will take both hands", says Vasile Ross in The Irish Times.

If you aspire for a job, you'll get one

Tolerance and bloodsucking slothfulness are two totally different things. Let me remind you that before my country had joined the EU hundreds and quite possibly thousands of Lithuanians arrived to Ireland seeking to work illegally. For cash, yet half the amount of the minimum wage, without paying taxes, blue-collar workers sweating in unbearable conditions in mushroom processing factories in the Northern Ireland, students with Master's degrees working as kitchen porters in order to save money for Ph.D studies, husband's leaving their wives back home and doing nightshifts while meditating how they'll make love again in the newly refurbished house, etc.

I've always believed if somebody wants to work and is prepared to work hard, one will find the job. Let me ask you then why those gypsies who beg on Grafton Street in the heart of Dublin city don't? Why they make their 8-year-old children beg (and I've seen this)?

Flights, benefits and possibly free housing offered... in Romania

A spokesman for the group on the roundabout confirmed to the BBC they had been offered free flights back to Romania by the Irish Government, but none of them wanted to return. They were also promised by the Romanian government that they would have health and education benefits and would be considered for free housing.

Romanian embassy officials in Dublin say they are embarrassed by the activities of the gypsies, many of whom are begging on the streets of Dublin.
The embassy, according to The Irish Times, even doubts "Roundabout Roma" claims that their living conditions in Romania were unbearable. According to the embassy sources, the families had sold their houses to fund their trip to Ireland.

15 days left

On the 21st of July, at around 5.30 am, Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNBI) officers served immigration papers on 86 Roma people camping in Ballymun. The group have 15 days to make representations to Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan as to why he should not make a removal order, in which case they would be transported back to Romania.

New Irish Government faces a very tough challenge now. Ireland previously has made decisions which earned this country the name of a Celtic Tiger. The Gordian Knot on M50 is a test that questions Tiger's courage and determination. And the situation is being observed by 2 mln. Roma in Romania and the whole EU, who previously had doubts about accepting Romania to the club and I am convinced Roma people were one of the main reasons for these reservations. But let me remind just once again - tolerance and bloodsucking slothfulness are two totally different things.


Great expectations meet real situations. Idealism, reality and flexibility

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If they don't like it here why don't they go back?

It was a very good point. The conversation took place in the USA, I think it was 2002. We were talking about America with Americans. Everybody had agreed on the imperfections and flaws of the country, i.e. dumb politicians, citizens' naivety, horrifying criminal situation. Yet despite constant grumbles the USA for many still is THE promised land - the country of unlimited opportunities and acknowledgment. In other words - you've had expectations, you've made it to get the visa (which for the citizens of my country, daring to cross the threshold of the embassy of the USA, is something in between Darwin's fight for survival and a sacrifice of one's privacy*), therefore please have respect for a country that has welcomed you, do the best you can and perhaps then it will indeed turn out to become your Eldorado.

I guess the same attitude could be applied in any country, be it New Zealand, Tanzania or Ireland. We all cross the borders with expectations - greater or smaller. And when the reality doesn't meet them we start to bitch. The cost of living, the amount junk food sold (and consumed), nasty weather, unpredictable public transport, filthy streets, knackers, junkies, beggars, narrow-minded press, boring music on the radio, tracksuits, spoiled kids, obese girls, binge drinking blokes... I could go on and on...

Some of us get trapped in this fussy list and forget the question posed in the beginning. If you nearly hate this place why don't you go back to Poland, Latvia, Slovak Republic or Lithuania? Oh... I see... The pay is ten times less and despite being the citizens of the EU many locals still behave as if they were cavemen?

Fair enough. Then ask yourself if your country would be as welcoming as Ireland (or UK, or Sweden or any other EU country that has its borders wide open for accession countries' labour force). Would it embrace and open its borders to thousands of foreigners: black, Chinese, Asian, gypsies, homosexuals, transsexuals, former criminals escaping their past, inexperienced students, unemployed elders, abrupt countrymen, losers trying to break through once again and illiterate cheep labour force unable to utter a single word in your language. The list could go on and on.

I can assure you my country is not ready for a tsunami like this. I remind myself about it now and again and that makes me stop my moans. After all perfect countries don't exist. As the saying goes, far away hills are always blue. Yet once you approach them you start to notice that even tigers have flaws. Therefore although it might be hard we should accept imperfections, try to live with them and learn to become more flexible. Then it is easier to notice that there are still plenty of good things around. And you might live happier ever after...

* the latter meaning that you have to submit heaps of documents stating your income and financial obligations, moreover you must participate in an interview that might strip you of any privacy and all of the above - for the cause of eliminating any possibilities you might chance to stay in the USA after the expiry of your visa


Drunken anonymous outrage as a response to Dane's critique

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"Why do Irish people drink? Because sober people write whiny letters while they're on holidays. And skinny people never get their round in. And Hans Christian Andersen wrote rubbish stories. And Carlsberg tastes like donkey wee. And mind the saloon doors don't smack you on your skinny little bottom as you leave."

Al C O'Holic

Despite the fact that Dublin's daily "Metro" (distributed for free) encourages readers to include their full name in the emails sent to the editor, the author of the above email is anonymous.

The outrage is an answer to a Danish guy Christian who after arriving to Ireland after 10 years came to conclusion that the only difference he notices is the fact that there are more men with beer bellies and women with spare tires. This slapping of a Celtic tiger did not stay unnoticed.

"One must be blind not to notice the level of binge drinking in this
country: girls crawling from pubs on their knees and men taking a leak
wherever possible. Have you ever tried to walk in Temple Bar on a
Sunday morning? The place stinks of every excrement possible."

This was part of my response to Al C O'Holic which I had emailed to "Metro". In case he/she doesn't know that every fifth person in this country is obese (and these are the figures of 2000). Or in case he/she is not aware of the fact that Ireland has the highest level in EU in terms of binge drinking. It is not shamrocks or leprechauns in Ireland anymore. It is broken pint glasses on Grafton street and the smell of puke and piss in the city centre 24/7. Celtic tiger is getting wasted. Slainte.

By the way, for the likes of Al C O'Holic I highly suggest visiting Denmark. For pure educational purpose.


Ok. You have your suitcase packed. You've just had an appointment with a dentist (this will keep you going for half a year until you come back). You're sporting a new pair of shiny glasses and a new haircut. Passport and ticket in your pocket.

"Now what?", they ask you before you get on the plane. "What will you do for a living over there?"

It all kicks off with a CV.

Your name.

Skip the letters that don't belong to the local alphabet. Abbreviate your last name. Modify the first one. Become another Paddy, John or Amy. Who cares about the name anyway?

Work experience.

It must be relevant to the position you are applying for. Don't expect anything posh. Miracles don't happen in a day. Otherwise half of the more than average journalists you know from home would be applying for jobs in BBC. PR people would be knocking on the doors of those who partake in making something like this and finance analysts would be doing anything to get in HSBC or the likes.

Perhaps the best ones might even turn out to be lucky. Yet few even try - many choose rather to become local celebrities than international mediocrities. Thus we have 30-year-old journalists who act like gods, love to pose for local celebrity photographers and drive new BMWs. The result - our TV stations tend to focus barely on cheap reality TV shows (they sell) and our reporters can't afford to research for a story for a month (actually, it is the editors and the bookkeepers who can't afford it). Journalists get wasted with MPs, editors go to Majorca with those who advertise on the front page and reality TV shows produce journalists. On the other hand who cares about good quality media? Prime time is given to crime investigations anyway.

Back to the CV.

Since you're not applying for a job in RTE or "Irish Independent" and only want to get those alluring 8.65/hour voila you state your relevant experience. Your summer in the USA and the tables you've waited over there, places you used to go to for a pint back home (nobody examines the facts in your CV anyway) and a few months of experience of making latte in some Dublin cafe.

If you are a bloke you go into construction - they make more than the minimum wage (so ***ing sexist) or into IT if you have any idea about PCs (***ing computer geeks).

You might include the fact you've been working as a news editor for the largeset news portal in the country (a sort of Lithuanian BBC). But it was not in Ireland so who should care?

There's little point to mention a couple of months spent in the national radio as a reporter either. It was not RTE anyway. Besides you're not applying for a reporter's position (although you might consider it later).


Don't bother with subjects taken, just mention having received the degree. In any case nobody knows your university.

Hobbies and other details worth or not mentioning

Make sure your contact phone number is on the very top of the page, bright and clear.

God forbid don't put your photo on the CV (an especially common trend among Eastern Europeans).

For Christ's sake skip "traveling" or "taking pictures" - it sounds so dull. Worth mentioning yoga.

If by the time you hand in the CV you can have a basic conversation with the manager of x cafe in English, it is magic! Don't give up if nobody has called you, print lots of copies and knock on many doors. It is nearly impossible to fail in this economic boom.

After a couple of years you might even chance to apply for a more demanding job - in order for the local celebrities you have left back home not to call you a failure. Perhaps you could even turn out to become an international mediocrity after all...


Why I've been hesitant about AdSense

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If above these lines you see an ad of sexy Baltic girls this is the reason why I've been hesitant about launching AdSense.

This also backs my opinion that women so far have been the best export in Lithuania. No wonder sometimes I prefer not to reveal the country of my origin.

On the other hand if you like 90x60x90 blonds go on - click on the links! You might find the love your life, I might earn some cash. We'll see if AdSense turns out to be a leprechaun after all.


"Confessions of a Celtic Tiger Call Girl"

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A soon-to-be-deported Israeli vice girl - whose forthcoming novel ‘Confessions of a Celtic Tiger Call Girl’ will be published anonymously by Opportunity Press spills the beans on her many high-profile Irish clients.

As confessed to Lorcan Roche of "Mongrel":


What does it matter to you, my name? You have all called me so many names in your accents, and whining voices. Horrible, Irish names (Seoige! Ni Bheolain!), Jewish ones too (Sharon!). You called me names as studio sweat and make-up and liquid guilt ran down your candy-striped arses, arses you paid me to whip and insert objects into. Like a torn-up contract for a better Ireland, while you pulled down your Lycra cycling shorts, halfway, and pumped the air.

You called me ‘Glenda’. You made me arch one eyebrow, like Dr. Spock. You made me scrub your pink skin raw, then rub Wintergreen ointment on your member while you babbled about ‘controlled passion’. You made me dress in an English rugby jersey, then you beat me with a copy of LIFE magazine. When you came, without warning, you screamed ‘Stringer! Stringer!’... What does this mean? Should I have tied you with cheap string, the kind my mother wrapped around my battered suitcase the day I left my homeland?

You came to me in the morning, sweating from the studio lights at RTÉ and you made me eat linguine and clams, three bowls, and you wanted me to confess in minute detail what other RTÉ presenters had requested, and it thrilled you (especially what Derek had asked for) and your greedy eyes grew wide and you wanted to see me with olive oil drizzling on my chin, like you often have on TV, except of course you have several chins. My God, I will never forget your lips, so big, and rubbery. They moved this way, and that, on my body, and your tongue was visible, always, like a ferret trying to escape from a ball of silly putty.

You came to me from RTÉ in the afternoon, and you crawled on the floor below me and looked up with real fear in your eyes, and you moaned ‘Grainne, Grainne’ and you asked me to dress in leather and to humiliate you, and to speak with a sexy lisp. Humiliating a grown man, even a redhead, and speaking in a sexy lisp at the same time is hard. But, after watching the show I mastered it. It’s about attitude, heels, and self-belief.

You came straight from the law library, wearing a pinstripe suit. You made me jump up and down for hours to Michael Flatley’s music, wearing a blonde wig and white stilettos. You invited me to a party in Killiney, but I had been there before - to Vico Road, where I was forced to dress in red and have deviant sex with a nanny and a dwarf. Vico Road. Where a famous film director paid me to beat him while he sat in a wheelchair, where a famous singer – dressed in PVC and big stupid glasses – paid me to chase him round the room with a can of fly-killer.

You told me your name was Eamon. You sniffed cocaine off my nipples and you said after that I was a good whore, but not a great whore, that the best whores worked in TV, then you scribbled all over the walls of my apartment, screaming about a homosexual farmer called Giles.

You said your name was George. You seemed kind, but then you took too much Viagra and you held me captive for days while you beat off and talked about yourself, endlessly. You said your name was Michael. I stroked your bald head. I let you play with my stormtrooper costumes. You cried. You opened up to me. But then I saw the guilt in your eyes – and knew it was you who would ring immigration.

Was trying to google the book, but couldn't find it. Hopefully will manage to get hold of it.


Baba's Business

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Once upon a time somewhere in the deep suburbia of Ukraine lived baba. Baba was producing homemade vodka, widely also known as moonshine. Then a tourist from the United States of America came along. Thus a video on You Tube appeared. Somebody in "Decanter" stumbled across it and that's how I discovered the recipe for Ukrainian vodka:

3 buckets of water
3 to 5 kilos of sugar (depending on the taste expected)
0.5 kilo of yeast

A couple of old pots, a pipe, old pair of knickers, rags, stove and coals also needed. Couldn't figure out the rest. Perhaps you might.

On the 19th of June 2007 the European Parliament has voted down a bid by MEPs from Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, Sweden and Denmark to tighten the legal definition of vodka. The so-called "vodka belt" countries wanted to restrict the term to spirits made only from potatoes or grain. But a majority of MEPs voted in favour of a looser definition. According to BBC, vodka made from anything other than potatoes or grain will have to say so on the label yet it can keep the name "vodka" on it.

For those who come from countries mentioned above this was basically a battle for copyright. Just like Champagne has to be made in Champagne and Cognac - in the region of Cognac. Otherwise pleae be kind to use the name sparkling wine or brandy.

Despite loosing this battle Lithuania has to face another one now and it is a question of whether the politicians will have the guts needed to confront conservatives (by this I don't mean just political movement). I am talking about the legalization of homemade vodka which would include legal measures to control the quality of the production, making sure it is made in a more civilized way than "baba's pot". Just like whisk(e)y - once illegally mass-produced on such a scale that in 1820s as many as 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated every year today it is one of the best-known Scottish exports. And boy, some of them are delicious...

Lobbyists who are pushing the legalization of homemade vodka in Lithuania claim this could become a huge attraction to foreigners, especially those interested in countryside tourism. The levels of production would be controlled, so would be the quality. Some believe this could help to decrease the rate of alcoholism in the country. Besides, the likes of baba would probably have to improve the sanitation.

On the other hand, what could be better after a day of swimming in the lake, fishing and horse riding than a dram of top quality homemade vodka with some Lithuanian charcuterie, rye bread and pickles? Old people say if it's well made you would drink a bottle and wake up the following morning fresh as a daisy. Forget "Smirnoff" or "Huzzar".


An orchestra of *** immigrants jamming in Glastonbury

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They became famous after a show in "Pizdetz" (the most accurate translation of this Russian expression would be "cunt kaput") - an after-hours club on Ridge Street in New York. The members of the band are from Ukraine, Sachalin, Israel, Moscow and California. I heard them for the first time when a colleague of mine had brought their CD to work and I was overjoyed - for the first time ever I could understand the lyrics better than he (English) did. From the background of thundering drums, banging fire buckets, violins and accordions stories emerged - uttered with a distinctive Slavic accent and interwoven with Russian jokes and exclamations. Thus my encounter with "Gogol Bordello" began.

The front man of the group (or phenomenon if you like), its founder and and soul Eugene Hütz (Євгени Худз) as "Guardian" says has called his band "an orchestra of fucking immigrants, jamming in A minor".Their lyrics are obscene, they give out to everyone - homo sovieticus, West, Europe, pop culture, the system, immigration officers. E. Hütz looks like a an outlaw himself - franticly spinning on the stage half naked and with a distinctive mustache. Their music is everything but easy-listening and E. Hütz roars with a creaking voice every single song as if it was a confession born in the darkest corner of the soul in the middle of the night while sitting besides a campfire and cracking a couple of bottles of vodka. Their music, the so called "gypsy punk", has won admirers all over the United States and recently thousands of music fans were madly jumping with their wellies in the mud of Glastonbury to its rythm.

To get the lyrics

"aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiget down here as a cheap labor force but i beat the system everywhere i goes"

is tough and I have my reservations - I doubt that because of them thousands are going crazy - it is the image of "Gogol Bordello" that puts a spell on you first. Yet behind it remarkably accurate and intense words are concealed - emerging from personal experiences - firstly those of E. Hütz, who had left Ukraine with his parents following the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and those of other members of the band who are now partying together on the other side of the Atlantic after achieving their "American dream" .

There you go critics of emigration - another example of immigrants not only wiping Westerners' asses as you like to stress so often, but kicking them too.

Apparently Madona is known to be a huge fan of "Gogol Bordello", she even invited the guys to join her on stage on 07 07 07 for "Live Earth" gig in London, where she was stamping to their fiddle (or so a similar Russian saying goes).


So 'Nia and Yet So Where?

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The People. June 17th.

A two page story by Alan Hart "So 'Nia and Yet So Where?" about Lithuania. Great pictures yet a misspelled name of our capital Vilnius on the map. I hope Vilnuis is a proof reading mistake.

"After showing my friends the holiday photos they're queueing up to go to Lithuania," writes A. Hart.

It seems the journalist has impressed his mates with the choice of the country and activities. Finally the British come to Lithuania for something different than a stag party!