Saturday, June 23, 2007

A happy, safe Midsummer (Jāņi) to all

I just want to wish all my readers (very many of whom are in Latvia) a happy, safe Jāņi holiday with beer, cheese, merriment, līgo songs, bonfires and the whole business :).  At the same time, I want to share a thought that came to mind at an informal lunch with some people from a Latvian state agency (telecoms-related). We talked about the upcoming Jāņi and I said my best Jāņi were in the US, at the Piesaule camp in New Hampshire owned by the Latvian Lutheran Church. Some 60 (?) summer houses have been built over the years (since 1954?) in Piesaule and a number were owned by people named Jānis. So what happened was that there was a procession (two, actually) to all the cottages of Jānis(es) with singing, cheese and beer served by the respective hosts and finally a big gathering at a bonfire, dancing in the barn etc.
At many other places in North America, the centerpiece of the Jāņi celebration has been some kind of show by the local folk dance/singing organization showing a more or less traditional Jāņi celebration so that all present would see "this is Jāņi in (olden days, traditional) Latvia." It was more or less the Skroderdienas Silmačos scene.
I said it is time to update this to show Jāņi in 21. century Latvia. The scene opens on a stage with a flatscreen TV, a couple of couches and a grill. In the background, an SUV pulls up and the first Jāņubērni emerge carrying Rimi or Maxima bags filled with special Jāņi packages--six packs of Aldaris or Cēsu beer, buckets of shašlik meat and shrink-wrapped, heart-shaped Jāņu cheese. They fire up the grill, have a few beers and turn on the TV. It is too early for the Maestro (Raimonds Pauls) to take the the stage at the Līgo Lejasvaimanas 2008 mass event, so the camera crane zooms over the crowd of thousands gathering by the outdoor stage and listening to a Latvian country band in cowboy hats. 
The Jāņu bērni in the couches (except for the grillmaster) start channelsurfing. They stop for a few seconds at a 1980s recording of an outdoor performance of Skroderdienas (a Latvian classic about tailors,  a mismatched wedding in a country farmstead and a Jāņi celebration where all gets set right). Then they channel surf to a blond babe in a bikini being carried uphill by an older man (or maybe she is asking to be driven to the Estonian hill, Munamegi) -- this is from the film A Limousine the Color of Jāņu Night. Finally they hit a channel with the alternative to the Maestro's Līgo Lejasvaimanas for a younger audience with the comedians Ufo and Fredis and some people rapping in the Latgallian dialect, followed by some folk/punk rock band, or at the very best, Ilģi. And so the show goes on, more or less like a happening or installation rather than a performance. The Jāņu celebrants drop off one by one as the beer and šašliks run out. One staggers to the SUV to get some more at the all-night Statoil down the road. There is a loud simulated crash after the SUV drives away. But our hero is unhurt, we see him staring pathetically out the window of a Latvian police prisoner transport bus that drives by, ending the performance.
OK, this was to entertain my Latvian readers. Back on topic after the holiday. 

1 comment:

Bleveland said...

I wish you the same Juris! The weather could have been a bit sunnier and a bit warmer, but then again no rain so far here just outside Jelgava.

My in-laws ended up with a CDMA450 fixed line replacement when Lattelecom became cheap and didn't feel for replacing the old soviet lines. There went their last chance of getting a decent DSL connection up in smoke. The box connecting to the CDMA450 network (Triatels' I guess, good for a Mbps or two) giving an excellent sound quality on normal phone calls offers just 9,6 kbps (remember it is 2007!) as one of the internet options (example: 15 Ls for 150 hr online time) and for more economically viable users they have a 128 kbps line at a non negotiable rate of 2 santims per minute (mostly reminds of old time ISDN connections all around western Europe). Then again: Triatel does offer a 24/7 1 Mbps connection to a fixed rate (or for the less data consuming among us a fixed fee up to 1 GB and then a fee per MB).
Since the family is going to stay here for the rest of the summer (me commuting to Stockholm for the time I am not on vacation) I think I am just a phone call away from getting a Triatel wireless internet subscriber.
So f*ck Lattelecom and a very happy Jāņi holiday to all others!

O yeah, by the way, it just started to rain. Now everything, inclusive the Jāņi celebration, is as it should be (well, almost)