from vilna, wet

with 4 comments

Not much to report.

Trip in was uneventful. Continental, on the overnight EWR-FRA, had an exquisite entertainment complexity unit behind everyone’s head; my planned reading/prep fell, alas and predictably, to Star Trek, Hangover, Monsters Inc, thoroughly frustrating crossword puzzle, etc.

Luggage came, which, call me wide-eyed, but I consider a modern miracle. That s*** came from Boston! Two stopovers, neither of which were very long, and the second of which was rather minuscule! Perfect the system ain’t, but credit where it is due.

Our landlady, E., is a sweet woman, and who for personal reasons lives here rather than her hometown and husband-centered Hawaii. (Second generation Litvak, grew up speaking the language, etc.) Our digs are mondo. More than ample space (though second bedroom is currently inhabited by l-lady’s scary big but slowly diminishing hoard). Our windows open up to the main square in the main part of the city, which means several things: (1) it is very close to very many drinking establishments; (2) if the world basketball championship happens to be in session, then a Lithuanian game brings many to the square where they cheer loudly and, if there’s a subsequent victory, all night; (3) locals think you are in a very cool and highly desired location (cf. Manhattanites regarding Tribeca loft-dwellers (but way better actually, cuz there’s nothing here in competition)). Two neighbors, Gustus and Eimontas (everyone’s name sounds Latinate here) can actually access our apartment through theirs, which is less than ideal, but we’ve hung out with them and they’re alright, plus they had us over for beers and their stuff is nicer than ours, so that’s a relief on the theft-front. They’re engineering students and very large and we have challenged them to a two-on-two bball game.

Right now, in a little surreal twist, the city is overrun with Scots (about 4k of ’em) who are all wearing kilts and drinking beer. There’s a match tomorrow in Kaunas between the Scots and the Litvaks; neither is very good apparently. It feels like nightlife colonialism: All bars/clubs have been invaded by hairy kilted legs. One place I saw a group unfurling a massive Scottish flag with the words “BIG C**K” (asterisks not my addition) on top, and “HAIRY BALLS” across. I do not know if this is a Scottish soccer term.

Now this: Anybody who has the the chance to come and visit and doesn’t is insane. This might be your best opportunity for any eastern european city traipse. You’ll have a great space  + great host + his great roommate + insider knowledge (hopefully? eventually?) + stocked fridge (maybe, though there almost certainly will be pickles).

First thoughts about the locals: Nice, bit reserved. Their facility of English, I have learned, was greatly oversold before my arrival. (The students seem okay.) Shopping was an ordeal — I did not pack for this weather (cold, rain) and had to step outside Old Town, where English is almost nonexistent. Even in the mall, which is huge and modern and surprisingly fancy, I had to resort to lengthy and involved pantomime to describe ‘water-proof.’ (How do you think I did it? It’s actually a great charades round.)  The women are beautiful in that easy, striking eastern european way — and there are lotsa them. In university (spent a few hours there meeting the relevant people) the ratio was, on conservative eyeballing, 20:1 female-male. And most males I saw were either locked in a female’s death-grip (i.e., taken) or looked circa-90s goth (i.e., not going to be taken). Ostensibly, this is a good thing. And this is true, though in an abstract way: (the perception of) opportunity! But in reality, it just skews the social setting. Kinda like college. More TK??

There is no peanut butter here, apparently. I need a new diet staple.

Plenty more to say, though all observations are in infancy; let me actually walk around in dry feet (bought two pairs of boots today!) and soak the place in first. And in any case, leaving to Uman on Tuesday, so I’ll be sidetracked anyways.

Written by menachemkaiser

2 September at 22:21

Posted in rants

4 Responses

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  1. aciu to you too!


    3 September at 00:05

  2. LUBA?


    3 September at 00:08

  3. there’s peanut butter, you have to search more carefully
    or ask some Lithuanian (not Litvak) help.


    24 October at 21:04

    • okay, this needs some updating. I found some peanut butter at rimi, but it was very, very sweet, not what I’m used to. And I found some at Marks&Spencer, which was very delicious. I need a new jar.


      25 October at 12:49

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