As Chuck and I will be leaving for Vilnius on the train in just a few hours, it has occurred to me that I will not be doing the usual weekend post. So I thought I’d write a little about some odds and ends before I get ready to go.
First–What’s in a name? All in the US have occasionally wondered when reading certain names–female or male? The examples would be: Chris, Pat, Jamie, Kelly,Lynn, etc. Here there is no such difficulty. All girl’s names end in a or e and boys names end in as or us and sometimes is. Since they do not use titles to designate sex– no miss or mrs. or mr– this eliminates confusion. Further, in the case of women, the last name indicates whether or not a female is married or single. I guess it is not important to know a man’s marital status. For instance, our friend Algis has a surname of Latakas which is also used by his son. His wife is Lianna Latake and his daughter is Gabriela Latakaite. If we were to address a letter to Algis, we would use “gerbiamas Algis Latakas” which means honorable” rather than Dear Mr. Latakas. Very occasionally, he might be referred to as Ponas Latakas, Lianna as Ponia Latakiene and Gabriela as Paneli Latakaite but, according to our cultural coach, that is not commonly used. So that is similar to the Mr., Mrs., Miss usage we have. I asked Chuck about the most common names among the students in his classes and he says Christina is by far most popular with girls and there seems to be no name that is common with the boys.
Second. I asked Egle, our culture coach, early on, what did Lithuanians think about Americans. First off she mentioned the problem with fat people which I already shared. But another thing she said was that the American students do not know geography. For instance, they did not know where Moldova was. I jumped right in to defend the American students (although I’ve heard a large number cannot find France on a map) and pointed out that there are many countries in the world and probably few can place all of them on a map. Moldova, I said, is very small and is not much in the news and is on the other side of the world from the U.S. Then I told her that right before we came over, we were visiting Belize and wondered if she could identify Belize on a blank map. Her answer: “Belize??” Score one for the Americans! After she left, I Googled Moldova because, though I knew approximately where it is, I wanted to be absolutely sure.
Third. Though it is a fact that Lithuanians have a very low birth rate and schools are closing left and right, it is odd that every time we go out we see so many babies being pushed about in prams. Most here use the old fashioned buggies for the little ones rather than strollers. From my little “window on Lithuania” here, I see many women walking out of the neighborhood across the street pushing their babies. It surprises me that, no matter what the temperature, they are out and about. I saw a woman with buggy go by my window one morning when it was about 10 degrees and I felt bad that she must have to go somewhere and take her baby out in such temperatures. However, she passed the window two more times as she went around and around our building and I realized–no, she was just out taking the baby a walk. Here is a young mom who agreed to be photographed by the bus stop one day–pushing her little one on a sled/stroller. Very cute.
Finally–ice cream: The Lithuanian’s go out of their way to make ice cream look delicious. Here, Chayah is admiring the ice cream In the big shopping center, Akropolis. It is topped with fruit, which indicates the flavor, and other toppings. I have not tried any of this yet but intend to before we leave. I just don’t know which flavor to choose–it is all so pretty.
Sorry there are so few pictures–I know you enjoy them. However, next post should be loaded with photos–two cities to explore!