Gaļis' map of Latvia

Monday, August 01, 2011

In search of people to draw maps, I recently went to 72 Queensborough Terrace, a Latvian guesthouse and bar. There I met Gaļis who drew this map.

Latvia, drawn by Gaļis

Gaļis was born in Liepāja where there are beautiful beaches. He has been living in London for 5 months, and wanted to practice his English, so we chatted for a while.

"You are most welcoming to stay," he said, encouraging me to spend a very fun/random evening, which included the following:

  • A man who was considering visiting friends in Kyrgyzstan

  • A man conducting anthropological experiments. I took part - he asked me to stare into my eyes in a mirror for 10 minutes. Weird.

  • A strawberry cider called Fizz!

  • Latvian versions of Cabaret and Those Were the Days with satirical political lyrics.

  • A woman sat next to me. She told me that so many times others had tried to "con-queer Latvia". But she didn't let it bother her.

  • I spent an hour talking to a man called Zinters who had fled Latvia after World War 2 to go to what he assumed was a safer Germany. From there, he was moved to England in a government guest worker scheme, working first in Yorkshire, then in Scotland. During the 1950s, he moved to Dublin, trained at the Royal College of Surgeons, worked as a brain surgeon, but eventually moved back to London. Later, he spent time in Uganda working under Idi Amin, left there, retrained to be a radiologist and eventually settled in Mansfield. Wow.

  • One of the final things Zinters said to me was, "Ireland: it's for the Irish, but Britain: it's for everyone".