Fridge metamorphoses and possibly yours

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Sometimes my fridge faces metamorphoses like this one.

The photos are not staged and I would never dear to publish them if my mom had access to internet. I don't know if this is popular among Irish students, but during my study years those of us who were not from the capital used to fetch bags full of goods from parents' - mostly smoked meats and strawberry preserves. In the meantime capital kids (including myself) were savoring the pleasures of living in parent's gaff. Now worries about dinner or breakfast. More or less, depending on the welfare of the family.

Nowadays I am savoring selfish pleasures of living all by myself. No parents, no boyfriends, no roommates. Nobody to criticize me for eating raw cauliflower and drinking black tea with a wedge of lemon. Unfortunately, no mom to make sure the fridge is full, therefore sometimes I have to face the fridge as it appears in the photo.

A while ago a colleague of mine who is Polish and myself engaged in a conversation about the peculiarities of Irish food. Not to mention that my Polish colleague is quite unhappy about Ireland in general...

Anyhow. Despite the mainstream tendency for those who live in the Western world to get fatter, I keep loosing weight. Over the six months that I'd spend in the USA I lost about 10 kilos (about 1.5 st). Then again, I never had a burger and I didn't indulge in Philly pretzels too much. Since I was waitressing in quite a decent Italian restaurant (owned by a real bitch though) and the summer turned out to be extremely hot, my diet mainly consisted of mixed salad.

I try to make sure I eat plenty of veg in Ireland also - tomatos, broccoli, lettuce, courgette, carrots, etc. Ironically, perhaps to some extend tomatoes and broccoli are to blame for my anemia. After being diagnosed with one I started to eat more meat (apologies all vegetarians - I greatly admire the idea), but still I love vegetable stews, I cook stuffed chicken in an oven and whenever we go out to Yamamori or Wagamama I indulge in seafood of some kind.

Although there over 220 shops (!) in Ireland selling Lithuanian food, on average I visit them only once every two months and when I do I buy there either herring or diary products. I don't really miss Lithuanian food here and after my last visit home I came to realize that potato meals and me don't always go together (NB - potato is our national vegetable (isn't it the case in Ireland?), we make everything from pancakes to desserts with them). Sweets and cookies don't seem to tempt me as much as they did when I was younger. And despite the fact I adore red wine (on average there are about 85 calories in a 125 ml glass), I never seem to put on weight here.

My colleague notes that whenever she goes back to Poland she starts loosing weight. But when in Dublin, extra pounds become inevitable. Since her nitpickings about Ireland every so often can drive to depression (there are enough shortcomings anyway), I keep discharging the accusations. Yes, you can find tasty berries. Yes, organic and affordable chicken does exist (4 euro each in my local butchers). Yes, you can find good tomatoes.

It is true though that healthy eating costs more than gobbling down chicken Kievs or "Goodfella's" pizzas, although I have noticed if my financial situation drives me to go for these, my stomach doesn't tolerate them well. In those cases only a dram of "Highland Park 12yo" or "Ardberg 10yo" helps.

Nevertheless yourselves and myself are about to face winter, which means less fresh vegetables. I hope after the cold season I will not be able to boast about a few spare tires. Mens sana in corpore sano.


Silence in the presence of marching monks. Not anymore?

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How blind and deaf one must be to stay numb when facing this:

Buddhist monks marching in Yangon on Monday (Photo courtesy of Mizzima News/AP)

It took a week of protests for the UN to send an envoy to Burma (not to mention the previous years of silence when the only form of protest the world was expressing were TV ads appealing for the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi ). How sweet of them. I thought it would take another Thich Quang Duc.

I thought these are the days of infinite possibilities. Alas... Not for some.


Issues: heating and bed

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Putting the kettle on is not enough anymore. Even "Highland Park 12yo" doesn't help. It is getting cold and I have to turn the radiator on. Just like Dublin Bus drivers, although they tend to overheat the busses. On top of that, I am anemic and that doesn't help, since a 10 minute journey to work turns into a bloody sauna.

Haven't seen the landlord for about a month and a half and I can't wait since:

a) we do need to turn the heating on

b) I need a new bed. Not because of too much exercise performed on it. It is old - like majority of the things my landlord stuffs into his houses (cupboards, tables, pots, arm-chairs, hoovers) and way too soft - I can nearly feel the springs cutting into my back. If he is not happy with buying a new one, I am chucking out the old one and will continue sleeping on my sister's mattress. That's what I have been doing for the past few weeks. My brother-in-law describes this as self-punishment (turning into Mother Theresa?). Actually it is not - it is great for the back. And I dream every night. What about? My bed in Lithuania. Although as a matter of fact it's Danish. :-)

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............;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::...............←This is a man standing::::::.. ..........::::::::..... .............::::::::..... ......
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::;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;:::←This is a man standing next to another one...........................,,,,,,,,,,,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

This is me... and this is you... and this everyone we know.

I thought I might recollect or remind to myself. A mesmerizing movie.

The reason for mentioning Miranda July is her new book "No one belongs here more than you" and a fabulous website to accompany it. Hang around there for a while - a delightful feast of imagination.

Tomorrow is payday and finally I will be able to afford to purchase something.


Back from Lusitania. Things Lithuanians could learn from the Irish. Part II

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Apologies for delay in updating the blog. Few amazing things happened in the meantime:

- I am starting a Photography and Digital Imaging Course at the Centre for Continuing Education in Art and Design in the National College of Art and Design. They've got my money and the birth certificate (which came as a big surprise for me - the passport is not not good! I was even tempted not to translate the certificate (which is in Lithuanian and Russian). A look at the certificate has reminded me that I was born in Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. But if they need it...)

- "Guardian Abroad" has listed my blog in "Global diatribes and politics" category. It took about a month of waiting after applying, meanwhile I was trying to update my rantings regularly. I can take some time off now:) Joking. The pressure is high to remain in the category.

By the way, exactly 6 days ago my Lithuanian blog celebrated it's first birthday. A virtual friend of mine Aunty Sigita has compared blogger's mission to that of actor's described by Stanislavsky as public loneliness. As time goes by and more people discover my musings in cyberspace I have to admit I start to feel more public than lonely. Here's to my ego :) And here's to you who read and comment and keep the ego thriving!

Now back to to-do-list which was scribbled before I left for holidays in Lithuania or Lusitania as a young charming Irish fella working with me calls my home country. I can tick all segments and if I could choose two best they would be:

- Three days here:

Sand dunes in the Curronian Spit

and here

The Hill of Witches in Juodkrante, Curronian Spit

and here

More sand dunes in the Curronian Spit

- The Opening Concert of Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra's Season. Violinist Liana Isakadze performed D. Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No1. while piano virtuoso Konstantin Scherbakov (he's much hotter live than in his website) was my favorite of the night and played P. Tchaikovky’s Piano Concerto No1. Lots of fireworks (perhaps not as many as in Lang Lang's perfomance), as one should expect from Tchaikovky, but the dialogue between the pianist and the orchestra was magnificent. Whenever I hear a symphony orchestra playing, it always sends shivers down my spine. Although I would have preferred something different to Tchaikovky... My sister calls him a storm in a cup of tea. By the way, speaking of Lang Lang, he's coming to Dublin, yet alas for no particular reason I am unable to book tickets (5 months beforehand!) on National Concert Hall's website. Have emailed them about the problem. I know Lang Lang is quite "fireworky" and different to the likes of Andrius Zlabys whom by luck I managed to meet and hear while living in Philly (listen to the recordings he has on the website or watch him here if you want). No fireworks, I should say. Yet Andrius (who also comes from Lithuania) is not coming to Dublin, but Lang Lang is and after hearing him in the "Painted Veil" I loved the Chinese melodies he was performing.

Sorry for being carried away with the last passage...

Anyhow. I'm back from Lusitania and without two pennies to rub together (payday is in a week). After all Lithuania nowadays is not that different to Ireland - everybody talks about property and building sites are mushrooming everywhere. Although there are things my fellow citizens could learn from the Irish:

* Manners. When you shop in "Dunnes Stores" you say sorry if you bump into somebody. If you shop in Lithuanian supermarkets you say nothing, you bump again. And again. Until the person you're bumping into realizes he or she has to move. After he or she does you say nothing and carry on shopping. Similar manners in public transport (although it arrives on time unlike in Ireland and the timetables announce the time of the arrival to a particular stop rather than the time when the bus leaves the first stop).

* Customer service. I was surprised when after complaining that the wine I got served in a glass was corked the waitress replaced it. On the other hand, the owner was present in the cafe at that time. When my friend accidentally broke an empty pint glass the waitress asked her to pay for it. When an elderly woman walked into a boutique shoe shop after saving for a decent pair of shoes for a good while, the security guard asked her to leave pointing to her that she would not afford a pair of shoes there. Besides being bitchy shop assistants tend to be very pretentious. And waiters in most cases are way too slow. I'd love to see them working in Dublin restaurants the way they do in Lithuania. They wouldn't be able to keep up with the pace.

* Music in public places. Supermarkets are blasting Tina Turner... Come on! Although I have criticized Irish radio, at least there's no Tina in the supermarkets...

* Too many old cars on the roads. I know they are cheaper, but thinking of he future the government could do something in order to make the society more aware of sustainability and environment. I.e. in Sweden the government is offering a 1000 Euro refund when purchasing an environmental friendly car. Although some producers have increased the cost of such cars by exactly 1000 Euro. Bugger...

* Lunch breaks! Especially if you do a 12 hour shift. A receptionist of a fancy hairdresser has no lunch break (this is as witnessed to me in person). Outrageous!

*Go organic and go small! Although Lithuanian vegetables, berries, fruits and mushrooms smell of what they are and are not polished in order to look more presentable, I miss small organic produce shops. The country is devoured by supermarkets possessing imposing names: AKROPOLIS (after the Greek Acropolis), BIG, MEGA, etc. And although we are an agronomical country, because of these supermarkets we might face a similar future like Ireland when you won't be able to get local tomatoes or potatoes.

*More varieties of beer and wine, please! If you're a fan of Aussie Shiraz, you're screwed. Likewise if you admire Belgian beer. And although Ireland has the highest excise duty in the EU (2.10 Euro for each bottle of wine), I can't understand why wine in Lithuania costs the same as in Ireland. And it is boring in most cases!

*Engaging in reading while using public transport. Although busses in Lithuania (especially in the mornings) are more packed than in Dublin (because they take as many people as fit and by fitting I mean fitting - like cornichons in a jar), even those who manage to get a seat still rarely engage in reading morning paper or a book. Whereas in Dublin, even in a packed Luas or Dart majority of the passengers seem to read. Reading is good for brain exercise! And for learing new things.

* Security staff is for security purposes, not for scaring people off. They are scary in Lithuania, believe me. Like freaking Gestapo.

For those who changed their mind and don't want to visit Lithuania ever, please look up at the photos posted above :)


Gone fishing...

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photo©Lina Zigelyte

See you after the 18th of September!


Things to do and things to miss - there and here

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On Thursday evening I am taking off to Lithuania for 12 days. Really looking forward. I'm scribbling a list of to-do things. The list in no particular order looks as follows:

* Dentist
* Hairdresser
* Blood test (anaemia to blame)
* Grandma
* A night out with mom (and dad if he is willing)
* Meeting my friends with whom I took a photography course. That's us by the way:

Pinhole photo © Mad

* Exhibition "Among us" in the Contemporary Arts Centre. Give it up for my photography teacher Jurgita Remeikyte who is taking part.

* Classical music concert. This is one of those things I miss most in Ireland. Dublin is great for a pint, but good classical music concerts are scarce. I am not talking just about exploiting National Concert Hall. There are so many churches, why not use them as venues? I remember when I was working next to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadephia (PA) the students were giving free recitals every week. Bear in mind - this is one of the most prestigious conservatories in the world. If these students can do it why those enrolled in studies in Royal Irish Academy of Music can't? Unless they're secret. But if they are at least half decent they shouldn't be!

On the other hand, if there is a good concert coming up, especially with a foreign orchestra, the tickets are expensive beyond belief or they are quite often given away to participants of corporate support before I even manage to hear about the show. By the way, some time ago I was flipping through the pages of "Guardian" and what struck me was the ad of a concert in, I believe, Albert Hall or some other great stage in London where tickets started at 5 or 10 pound sterling. Moreover, a friend of mine went to a premiere in Vienna State Opera House in April for ... a mere 5 Euro. That's Vienna, ladies and gentlemen!

Although... there's an exceptionally good band from some Central European country playing on Grafton St now and again. That's how I try to satisfy my longing for classical music sometimes.

* Three days in the Curonian Spit - a long and narrow sand peninsula spreading between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian lagoon with unique sand waves in the rolling dunes, pine-tree groves and rare flora of the amber coast. As of 2000, the Curonian Spit is on the Unesco World Heritage List.

* Meeting friends in Vilnius' cafes, wine bars and pubs. I have a feeling there won't be that many of them left - distance does affect the intimacy of relationships, I noticed that when I was in Lithuania last time - over a year and a half ago. But then again I can simply enjoy Vilnius' Old Town, read books by new Lithuanian authors and sip masala in my favorite tea shop. Whenever I return to Vilnius I feel a bit like Duris in L'Auberge espagnole when he comes back home.

Last week I received an email from my previous boss in Lithuania saying perhaps I might be convinced to return. If I do I started scribbling the list of things-I'd-miss-if-I-leave-Dublin. To be continued in the next post... Although... in terms of returning - not yet, there are things I would like to do before coming back.

Vilnius | Cathedral Square| photo©Lina Zigelyte