Juokingas straipsnis apie LT is laikrascio "The Guardian"

Juokingas straipsnis apie LT is laikrascio “The Guardian” Gerai Juokiasi

Go east, young man

The expansion of the EU last Saturday has opened up a whole new land of economic opportunity for millions of Europeans. Stuart Jeffries kicks off the goldrush by trying his luck in Lithuania

Tuesday May 4, 2004
The Guardian

According to a survey last week, 52% of Britons want to leave their homeland. They are sick of the lousy weather, the threat of terrorism, high living costs, soaring crime rates - and, quite probably, of hearing Britons whine 24/7 about how rubbish their country has become.
Of that small majority, 20% want to go to Australia, 16% to Spain and 11% to the US. Nobody, in other words, is really thinking imaginatively. Why clog up Benidorm, Bondi and Malibu with even more expat Brits when you could make a new life in a different kind of country - one where the people are friendly, the streets clean, public boorishness relatively minimal, the cost of living laughable and there are hardly any of the whingeing Poms you sought to elude in the first place? Lithuania, for example.

True, the average earnings in Lithuania (pop: 3.6m) may be £2,712 a year, unemployment may be officially 10% (unofficial estimates have it more like 25%), the weather may be as unpleasant as our own, and its capital Vilnius may boast a monument to Frank Zappa (of whom more later), but this most southerly of the Baltic states is the kind of place disgruntled Britons should contemplate moving to. There are great empty Baltic beaches, you can hire jet fighters to fly over Vilnius, lager is £1 a pint, a cocktail £1.50, and the best seats at the opera cost less than a tenner.

What’s more, how very clever one might feel to set up shop in Vilnius now. Just think - you would be voguishly bucking the new trend in European emigration that we are told is certain to follow the recent accession of the 10 new member states to the EU. Why not go to live and work in eastern Europe, now that so many eastern Europeans, so they keep telling us, are planning to settle in Britain? (The locals, it should be said, are not convinced. “There will be so many people migrating to Britain that the country will tilt up and sink into the sea,” says Biruten Ruksenaite, European adviser at the Vilnius labour exchange. "That is what you seem to believe, but I don’t think it will happen.&quotMirkt

So could I do the unexpected and make a life for myself in this cheap and cheerful former Soviet republic? I decide to find out. Clearly, it would be poignant to take the coach from Victoria to Vilnius, because I would be following in reverse the journey that many a Lithuanian is making to London as we speak. But the fact that the journey takes 47 hours 30 minutes, involves a mysterious "layover" and costs £163 one way, pulls me up short. I decide to fly - fortunately, not on the same flight as David, the photographer, on whose plane several Lithuanian women are being deported by British security staff.

Once in the Lithuanian capital, my first stop is the labour exchange, housed in a former Soviet army barracks. A not unpleasant lady laughs at my passport and its obvious dearth of a work permit. “Go to Room 101,” she says, with Orwellian solemnity. Crikey, I’ve only been in the country five minutes and they’re already threatening to torture me with rats. In fact, she has directed me to the wrong room: I need to go to Room 102, the European integration office, where another woman laughs at my employment credentials.

“You don’t speak Lithuanian, you can’t understand the job adverts, let alone write a CV - how do you expect to get a job in this country?” asks Biruten Ruksenaite between giggles. It turns out, disastrously for me, that there is a dearth of jobs in Vilnius for monoglot English journalists specialising in mild satire.

But surely I could provide some benefit to the local economy? Lithuania’s minimum wage was increased on May 1 from 450 to 500 litas per month. There are five litas to the pound, so that’s £100 a month. I trawl through the online vacancies directory at the exchange and find several positions for which I feel qualified. Amazingly, given the plethora of strip clubs in Vilnius, there are no lap-dancing vacancies.

Two of the jobs I consider are still offering below the current minimum wage. Gvinta and Co are looking for a cleaner for 450 litas pcm. “Must be energetic,” says the job description. Bloody nerve - for 450 litas, they’d be lucky if I turned up with a duster, still less used it. The same salary is offered for a barman’s job. Then my eyes chance on a journalistic vacancy at Mados Tendencia, a style magazine. Only four problems. It pays 500 litas a month and requires applicants to speak Russian and Turkish. And, presumably, Lithuanian.

In the end, I apply for a job as a zookeeper. My mission, I resolve, will be to work with sheep. I won’t need to speak Lithuanian to them, unless they are really clever sheep.

My next stop, in that case, is Vilnius University Hospital, where I seek to find out what would happen if, God forbid, I was bitten by one of my prospective sheep. Would the hospital look after me in all the heady pomp an EU national now has a right to expect? “Of course we would,” says Ausrine Lisauskiene, the hospital’s chief development and public relations manager. “The only question is whether it was an urgent or non-urgent matter.” I’m not sure whether all sheep bites are urgent. Why the distinction? “If it is not urgent, you’ll have to pay and then you can claim the charge back from your insurers at home. If it is urgent, you won’t have to pay for the treatment. We have to claim it back from your insurer.”

But what if I moved to Vilnius, bought a house and got a job? "That would change everything. Then you would be treated like a Lithuanian. You would pay insurance and get access to health care." But is medical treatment in Vilnius any good? "Very good indeed. This is a great hospital. Do you want to see a cardiology intervention procedure?"

I’ve got half an hour - why not? So, wearing a gown, silly hat, lead coat and tunic (to protect me from radiation), I am admitted to an operating theatre to observe state-of-the-art Lithuanian keyhole surgery. The patient is conscious, so to cheer him up as the surgeons twiddle with his blood vessels, I quietly sing the only Frank Zappa song I know:

“What’s the ugliest part of your body?
What’s the ugliest part of your body?
Some say your nose
Some say your toes
But I think it’s your mind.”

No one I speak to during my Baltic sojourn knows why Zappa is a big deal in Lithuania, but in 1995 local artists erected a ponytailed bust to him at the corner of Pylmio and Kalinausko streets in Vilnius. Similarly, no one I meet can satisfactorily explain why basketball is Lithuania’s national sport, though if you turn on the telly of an evening, you are more than likely to catch Shaquille O’Neal slam-dunking for the Lakers. Lithuania - it’s just weird enough to be adorable.

Next stop is to check out some potential accommodation. This is a trickier business than one might think. Since the end of communism, Lithuania has embarked upon a Thatcherite-style sell-off of council houses, so that now 85% of the country’s accommodation is privately owned. This, plus the arrival of property speculators in recent years (I met one on the flight from London), has pushed up property prices in the capital markedly. That said, flats in some of the grisliest Soviet-style blocks can still be had for a snip (relative to London prices). A two-bedroom, 50 metre square flat in a 70s council estate would cost me about 100,000 litas (about £20,000). It might not be much, but for a nascent sheep handler, it would be a start.

But what about benefits? After all, the tabloids whinge repeatedly about how these east Europeans are going to flood Britain and stuff their bank accounts with housing benefit, working tax credit, child benefit, council tax benefit. Can’t I do the same in Lithuania?

"As a citizen of a fellow EU state, you will be eligible for exactly what Lithuanian citizens get," says Vida Petrylaite of the Ministry for Social Security and Labour. Excellent. So make with the wodges of litas, Vida, I am going to teach you the meaning of benefit scrounging, UK-style.

“Actually, though, we don’t have many benefits. When you start to work you will pay insurance and that will make you eligible for invalidity health care, old age pensions and unemployment benefits. We don’t really have housing benefits.”

So how much is unemployment benefit? “It’s about 150 litas to 300 litas a month.” You can’t live on that. “That’s right. It’s only available for six months, then you have to find work or go on training schemes. It’s true that you can’t live on our benefits and we might have to increase them eventually, but at the moment Lithuania can’t have the same sorts of benefit provisions as exist in the UK. It’s impossible for us to harmonise with the rest of the EU; we can only co-ordinate.”

The low wages prevalent in Lithuania have given this country, like others in post-Soviet eastern Europe, a competitive edge over its west European neighbours; whether this edge will be retained as these countries take on EU-style social policies is a moot point. Some economists worry that the Baltic states may not do well out of EU membership if they surrender their chief competitive advantage over other member nations - cheap labour.

Justina Laurenovaite, 19, a politics student and striker for Lithuania’s women’s football team (25 goals last season), says that many of her fellow students might go to Britain for seasonal work - fruit picking and the like - but few will want to remain. “For most of us, it will be about experiencing work in another country. We don’t necessarily want to stay for ever.”

Later, she makes a telling point. “It’s as Hegel said: each nation has its soul. You can’t force your national soul on another nation.” She is talking about the US and Iraq, but her Hegelian analysis applies equally to Lithuania, a country whose soul has survived repeated torments from outsiders over the years. Lithuania has emerged from this past to choose its own destiny: 88% voted in favour of accession to the EU. And, for the moment at least, it is a good place to go to get away from the insular paranoias of our island.

"Thank you for taking an interest in our small country," says Vida Petrylaite, charmingly. "Have a good trip home to England." Home? Vida, if the zookeeper application gets the thumbs up, who knows, maybe home will soon be a very different place.

Pavargęs angliskai nesuprantu. tai nieko juokingo

Tingiu skaitxt is pacio ryto

patikek manim kiek cia skaitymo Apakęs

Gal ir idomu… Bet TIEK skaityt is pacio ryto… Ir dar anglu kalbaBaisu

perskaiciau iki pat galo Šypsena
tikrai - svelni satyra. gal ir juokinga, kaip autorius, sako, bet tas juokas pro asaras, ypac paskaicius apie bedarbius. zinojau visa tai, bet pazvelgus uzsieniecio akimis net siurpu pasidare Nustebęs

Nu ka padarysi, kokia yra Lietuva, tokia yra. Bent paguoda, kad teisybe parase, o ne taip kaip buna apie Lietuva raso, kad pas mus vien Ziguliukai, nieks autiku nevazineja, nes $ tam neturi ar kad mes ten is vis degradave ir arklius valgom ar kazkas pan.Nekaltas


Čia dar švelniai parašyta…Šis laikraštis vienas žymesnių.O jūs paskaitytumėt bulvarinius…

o cia apie ka ?

jezau, galejai gi kokia santrauka padaryt ar ka? velnias taip tingiu skaityt. bet butu idomu Taip bet tingiu. bet labai idomu butu, gaila tik kad tingiu skaityt.
padaryk santrauka, a, buk draugas…

nu, aisku, cia nepasipiktinsi Šypsena ir nerex visi apimti inferiority complex, kuo jie skaitosi esa Mirkt
ir vis delto, kazkodel mane visada ironija labiau zeidzia, nei atviros patycios ar nepatikrintos nesamones… Nekaltas

aga, liaabai ilgas…ir tikrai tingisi skaityti ir dar anglu kalba…nea, nejuokinga Ne Taip

cia ji, drauge Liežuvis

o as cia ne temos autores prasiau Liežuvis

O kieno? Nekaltas

to, kas noretu but draugas ir santrauka padaryt Cha cha

ka padarysi…kaip yra, taip ir parashe…tik jaw nemanaw kad ten geriaw…Ne

Gal kas isverst nretu???NekaltasJuokiasi