Sunday, 1 August 2010

Savādi Gan

I'm in Latvia now. I will stay here only for a month though. I flew in Friday, but just now did I change my facebook current location from Ottawa to Riga. Not for long though. 
Anyway. I was so excited to hear Latvian in public from people that I do not even know. After all, I haven't been in Latvia for eleven months, so don't blame me, blame the time (yeah, the time is always guilty). However, I was very disappointed to hear some of the conversations. The worse one was when I was in Origo with a friend of mine and one cashier was talking to the other. They both were young women, a few years older than me. They both were wearing shirts of the store they worked in, it said that there is a summer sale (or something along those lines). One was blond, while the other had darker hair that was tied in a pony tail. The dark haired one said to the blonde one: "So you really see yourself working and living abroad?" To which the blonde one said that she does not see any other choice. I was saddened, but it was the truth.
The situation in Latvia is really worse than I thought. Everyone sees money as a priority. Businesses are barely functioning. While people look like worn out clothes. I feel like things have gone so low that it is impossible to pull it all up. 
I was sitting with my friends at a fast food place (hahaha, I guess I can not blame the time here, but only myself), and my brother had bought fries along with other saturated fat foods. And I, as a person with hight demands asked if he had brought the sour cream sauce for the fries. He then went to get two packs, one for me and another for one of my friends. And then my friend said, something like, right, there are still some nice people in the world. Yeah, she probably didn't mean it the way I am interpreting it, but still, he bought something, and that is what made him a good person(?). Is that really and indication of a good person? I don't think so. Not only does this show in buying foods. How about cards, or ticket for the trolleybus? Is it the "good" person who buys things, or is it the "generous" one, or is it the one who simply has the money to spare for it. Further more, the city public transportation.. This was a very unpleasant surprise. As most of you know, the prices have raised dramatically for the public transport, and the whole system, has changed as well. What I have observed was that very few people actually pay for their trip, no matter if it is one bus stop, or seventeen. Very few people pay the price/ticket. Why? Too high prices? Maybe. Or is it the control and the effort that is put in to control this? Yeah, I guess it takes money to hire people who go around and check, but isn't it worth it? The fines are ridiculous as well - 5Ls. That is the most hilarious thing ever. One ticket is one tenth of the fine. So, if you don't get caught after cheating ten times you are pretty much saving money. AND since people probably do not get caught often, they are saving money. AND saving money is not only cool, it is also very useful, especially now!
The next thing ties in with the money. While very, very few businesses might be experiencing good times, tons are failing. Today I was riding home and I saw a good store that I liked close. It looked like it had been closed for several months now due to the wood that was nailed to the windows and the sad, grey worn out façade was falling down and creating debris piles. The other day I saw that the kiosk on Avotu and Čaka street intersection has been removed as well. Why? Why? I had known the existence of this kiosk ever since I can remember myself. This whole situation is erasing my childhood memories. How can I prevent this? Huh?
I also noticed that most stores are empty, except for the ones that sell used clothing. At all the stores that are still functioning people are crowded around the "last sale" stands. People are eager to save, to spend less, and to get the best deals in town. This is devastating. It takes up time and effort to find these deals, it takes away from the time people could be thinking of how to spend time with their families, or being happy about a national success in a sport discipline. It is very depressing to walk around when everyone is so determined to save, save, save. Why don't they go ahead and save themselves rather than money? Yeah, money is important and all, but it isn't the most important thing, that's for sure. 
I have been ditching Latvia to the most now, and all I really know is nothing. I am scared to look in deeper. I am seeing an iceberg, where the most is underneath the surface, but before I dive, I have to learn how. So that is why I am studying outside of the country. There I will get to have an education. I will develop my personality and dinf out how people live in another culture. I will then get to compare the one in Canada to Latvia, and to Scotland (not even mentioning the many things I know about other cultures around the world). This is really why I like social psychology, it is not the data, but the actual behaviour of people groups that fascinate me.
Chance can be done! :)
Now, yeah, people are very much money motored now. It is simply the way people have learned to adapt to the current situation. However, I have noticed some positive change, the TV has some positive shows and commercial. There are many events and concerts around the country, many of which are free or inexpensive. I have also learned that there is a huge growth in tourists since last summer, which means that the Latvian currency has some buyers. It also means that there are some businesses that are not failing. I also love that there are nice people, who remember to be polite and nice. There are pros and cons to everything, but it takes some effort to not only see the pros, but also bring them out more than the cons. 
I'm off to bed now, so take care. Meanwhile, I will try to wrap my head around everything once again. 

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