On Lithuania
Here is a selection of my writings as an expat.

The Expat Experience

A column I wrote for the British Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania.
extract:
Everybody is aware of the ridiculously archaic practice of smoking cigarettes and listening to loud music after dark, and I am pleased to report that both are now almost completely illegal in Vilnius. Cancer is expected to be eliminated entirely, and young people are welcoming the opportunity to go home at 6pm to get some peaceful sleep. The War On Graffiti isn't going very well, but that's something that capital punishment can easily sort out, and I fully expect this essential measure to be introduced soon. I am looking forward to the time when the violence and health risks associated with drinking alcohol are dealt with equally vigorously.
extract:
In this column I have been urging businesses to be more creative and to take more risks with homegrown talent. Since the last time I wrote, things here have become even worse. The myth of the tiger economy is finally biting back at Lithuania, as the enormous amount of foreign money that was thrown around for the last three years has produced only inflation, traffic congestion, bad credit, and a surplus of low quality housing masquerading as luxury apartments. That wasn't hard to predict, was it?

Vilnius VALIOOOOO!

A blog post that received strong support from my adopted home town.
I am sitting here, in the Cultural Capital of Europe 2009: Vilnius, Lithuania.
Officially, the project has been a complete failure. The money was stolen, the events were unimaginative, lame and unsustainable.
Officially, the excuse is that the global economic crisis is to blame.
But... unofficially, without any politicians noticing, this city has exploded with (sub)culture. Vilnius has always been a special place, and now is a special time.
These days I can't get off facebook and skype, because a thousand talented musicians and artists are collaborating all over my city, and I want to be a part of it.
This is not how the government planned it. They wanted everyone to go to nice safe mainstream events and be nice cultural people, back in bed by eleven thirty, back to work in the morning.
Instead, they failed so badly, culturally and economically, that a whole generation of creative people is sitting here, unemployed, wondering what to do.
In the last few weeks, these unwanted creatives somehow simultaneously figured out what to do, and they started doing it. This city is about to explode.
I lived in the middle of this photo
I lived in the middle of this photo
I love Vilnius, and I think everyone who lives here is going to love it even more over the next year, as more and more of the next generation get their shit together. There is so much amazing unreleased stuff around, and it has to come out sometime.
While I am writing a press release for the third dubstep party of October, I get a press release from someone else about the fourth. This city is a cultural failure? I don't think so.
Never waste a crisis.

Is it hard to learn Lithuanian?

No, the Lithuanian language is not hard to learn. Apologies to those Lithuanians who are proud of the difficulty of their language... it's not difficult. Try to learn Japanese for a day you will know what I mean.
Lithuanian (as every Lithuanian will tell you) is the closest Indo-European language to Sanskrit. It isn't the root of all the languages of Europe, but anyway let's just say it's a very European language, so if you already speak one or two European languages, you're not going to get many surprises.
Lithuanian has a simple vocabulary, tenses are relatively easy to form, verbs are regular, the alphabet is Latin with very few additions, gender and pronunciation is obvious from the spelling, most sounds are shared with other european languages. There are many cases, but they are strict and logical.
And, as an English speaker who struggles with French, German and Russian, I can say that it is interesting how the relatively strict structure of Lithuanian allows you to expand your capabilities quickly. Advertising executives complain that it is too restrictive, but anyway, it makes it easier to learn.
Maybe it's because I learnt computer languages, which are also complicated but strict. Maybe it's because I live in Lithuania, and generally I find languages interesting. Whatever the reason, I don't think Lithuanian is hard to learn. I would recommend that anyone who is visiting Lithuania or working with Lithuanians abroad should give the language a try. Don't let them tell you it's difficult.

Why did you emigrate to Lithuania?

People always ask me, so here's the answer:
Originally, I had no plans about Lithuania, but my family are mostly emigrants to other countries, so I always had emigration on my mind.
I was working with humanbeatbox.com as an event organiser and forum moderator. The community was very international and I started to make contacts in many countries.
One guy kept writing to me the most. He was Def One from the Fresh Rice Crew, and he kept asking when I was going to visit. When I heard that Lithuania was joining the EU, I decided to fly to Vilnius the day before, to meet Def One and make a documentary about New Europe.
In the end, I met so many friends and found such an amazing city, that I decided to stay more permanently. I still haven't finished the documentary, but after six years of Vilnius, I have plenty of stories to tell, and I am proud to call myself a Vilnietis.
Normally people are suspicious that I came here for the women, like a typical British guy on a stag weekend. It's true, I fell in love here, but only once, and I am still with her, many years later.
People also think maybe I have some secret business dealings or perhaps a license to kill, but unfortunately I don't.
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