Building A Wall

Sorry to anyone who actually reads my ramblings - I haven't been writing much lately. Partly because I've been computer-deprived, but mostly because I've not had much to say! Too relaxed and busy picking berries. Berry picking will definitely have to be the subject of my next entry.
Being in the country has been so wonderful, but soon we will be returning to the 'mean streets' of Riga. During the summer we have been back a handful of times for various commitments - and returning after so much time in the country is always a bit of a shock. When you live here you get used to that fine, black street dust that covers everything, but after the vivid green of Kūgures, Rīga is looking greyer and dirtier than usual. It seems as if everyone in the family feels it: this time the kids went psycho the minute we walked in the door of our apartment, I felt a big stress ball descend on all of us.
I had forgotten my big mental wall of resistance I usually have set up when in Riga - the wall that deflects all of the 'agro' you feel when out on the street. I'm talking about that hard city-stare and those elbows when you're queuing. Too many people who put way too much time into thinking about what they are wearing rather than about how to respect and care for their fellow pedestrians and neighbours. People who believe that if they can scam/earn/steal enough money to buy a luxury car, they have the right to park where they want and drive how they want: and by extension anyone who doesn't have a car like theirs is a lesser human being. It's a crass, simplistic, 'nouveau riche' style and attitude which rules the streets in Rīga, and after a while of living amongst it, it starts to affect you in all sorts of ways. You become self-conscious if you have run down to the corner store in your tracksuit pants (yes, Joel, even YOU); you fret if the kids start yelling too loudly in the park; and worst of all - you find yourself slowly but surely, looking at others who aren't following the "dress and behaviour code" as strange - or even inappropriate.
I know this is the story for a lot of cities - but Rīga seems especially good at it.
I have spent quite a while watching and trying to analyse this and I know the background, there's lots of reasons for it to be this way: previous enforced Soviet conformity and oppression; the influence of our large (and often tasteless) neighbour; the influence of the seemingly priveliged West; the rapidly changing economy; the fact that our neighbourhood has turned into an yuppie, sought-after area lately; etc, etc. I know there's good justification but it's annoying nevertheless. So I have to start building that wall again, I suppose. Oh, and keep the kids' yelling down to a dull roar!

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey I happen to think I look 'hip' in my trackies! Joel

  2. Marite says:

    I have to say, my first impression on arriving last night at RIX, as I stood not even able to see the baggage belt because everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder around it (accomplishing nothing)... was, here I am back in the land of the fashion victim. How long will it take for me to reacclimate to this place after living somewhere so civilised for a month? How long before my joie de vivre disappears, and my wall goes back up? Ah well... this is the life we've chosen for now... :)

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