Wednesday 9 July
”Det gäller att se ljuset från den mörka sidan.” (It’s all about seeing the light from the dark side.) Senior Lecturer Anders Flodin held a short lecture as he woke up. He is not sure what it really means, but we are would be as excited as himself to find out. Germany had crushed Brazil by 7 to 1 in the World Soccer quarter final late last night.
As I didn’t watch the game I wa sup earlier than the others and went for a morning run. The Old Town and central part of Kaunas is circumflowed by the two rivers Neris (north) and Nemunas (south). I ran up the hill to the north as I was going to find Christ’s Resurrection Church. It was high on the escarpment, but the Zaliakalnis Funicular, the railway, up there didn’t work. Just below the church on the southern side was some dilapidated buildings and the closed up train station. The church was used as a weapons depot by the Nazis and then as a communication centre by the Soviets. I followed a street down the hill in a narrow valley and came to the river. The Neris was like other rivers I’ve seen here, a green belt and sandy beaches, thick greenery resembling a jungle and people fishing and swimming. I river right in the heart of Kaunas was to be in the heart of Congo. The cracked concrete gave way to a new bike trail under a big steel bridge.
I came to the Old Town and the fortress with its restored walls. Below it there was river flats and I loved the part where the river smet. I went to the sandy spit of land between them, open and sandy. A ”labas rytas” to a couple of ladies out on their morning walk. Something down stream made me think of the Congo River and Heart of Darkness. I was following, or searching for, Mr Kurtz and the Station, just like the novel by Joseph Conrad (who was Polish). My little morning run had turned into a run through time and space and into foreign worlds. Running as a drug and it takes a little while to find the way into foreign worlds. Next I found myself in the Latin Quarter of New Orleans, just befor the Mardi Gras. It looked like it along the main street in the Old Town, with two storey buildings, low lamp posts and cracked balconies draped in flowering geraniums. The low houses, the cracked plaster and the flaking paint coming off just as the geranium petals swirling in the warm morning air. A couple of churches in the heart of the Old Town. I criss crossed a few times, met a priest in a wall archway byt the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral. To cross a major road and get to the Nemunas River I found a small underpass, thick with incense. Ahh, from New Orleans to India!
We all met up for breakfast at the Ibis Hotel, before we left at 10 am for the drive to Ramygala. Concert day. We did some car sightseeing on our way out of Kaunas, before getting to the freeway. It’s a big city, with big shopping centres and new housing estates on the northern side along the freeway. The landscape was flat farming land all the way to Ramygala.
Ramygala, a very big church in a small town. We stopped by a few small shops next to the church and waited for Ausra, Anders’ colleague from the Music Department at the University of Vilnius. The rest of the day consisted of two very good things: a Dunja concert and Lithuanian hospitality. That’s all you need to fill a most memorable day. Ausra took us to her Mother’s house. Regina, her mother, lived there with her mother and her sister. They served up a lunch that could last us for the rest of the day. A big serving of mashed potato (grown in their own garden of course) and cold beetroot and onion soup (tasted like Swedish midsummer) for entrée, followed by a bigger serving of mashed potato with a big schnitzel and chanterelle gravy.
We got a guided tour of the church and its history after lunch. The friendly priest quickly rang the assistant organist who played us a private concert. The red brick church was about 100 years old and had replaced an older wooden church in the same spot. More food followed – tea and coffee, piroges and cakes and more cakes and fruit – and we felt very ready for a nap in the garden. However, it was time to go to the Cultural Centre to set up for Emelie and Robert’s concert.
What’s this? A building site? A building that’s being restored, with rubble everywhere and someone mopping a corner of the dirty hall floor? It didn’t seem very promising, but half an hour later it seemed the opposite and perfect. Or ”super”, as they always said in Slovakia. Floor mopped, Emelie and Robert on their way to set up their set, and chairs placed on the hall floor below the stage. A percussion concert certainly wasn’t something that happened often in the village. About 34 people came and the concert was a complete success. A very good programme based around new compositions written for Dunja Duo by Simon, Emelie and others. The audience was most happy and many of them came up on stage afterwards, eager to try out the different percussion instruments.
”This was probably the most enjoyable concert I’ve ever done,” Robert said.
Packing up the instrument and loading the car was much more peaceful in Ramygala then in Pribylina with a big portion of the gypsy ghetto children being helpful.
More food to round the day off. More piroges, more cakes, more fruit, plus ”A very nice vodka,” as Simon called it. No more mashed potato though. Upon trying to leave, Ausra’s grandmother quickly offered us to take some potatoes and she went to dig some up. She gave us a big bag of potatoes to make sure we would be able to enjoy proper Lithuanian mashed potato with many meals in the forthcoming weeks.
Thank you, dear Lithuanian friends and dear Swedish FMT group for another memorable day.
Typed up in a lovely bed and breakfast, 15 kilometres north of Ramygala.