The Obvious


Posted in important by theobvious on March 11, 2008

‘Where are you from?’ – ‘Lithuania.’ – ‘Oh, Soviet Union?’

Seventeen years ago today was the day everyone ought to have stopped saying that. Ever since then, we have two Independence Days. One is the day of our Independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, the other – celebrated today – is the day of our separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.

When I was eleven, we spent three months in a village near Oxford. My brother and I went to school with the local kids. They were so friendly and welcoming, we felt very warm. Every day for three months someone would smile at me and ask – ‘Can you say the name of your country again?’

It’s Li-thu-a-ni-a, darling. The country that almost every American sitcom I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many!) has used for ‘obscure location’ jokes at least once. The country that has struggled for centuries to be independent and is now struggling to be recognized. It’s not that I’m bitter, of course.

The notorious Art Lebedev has just blogged about his recent U.S. trip, which could have been ruined for the simple reason of denied car rental, had the clerk not discovered USSR on the list of allowed countries. Russia was not on that list, because someone had no comprehension of geography.

As I said in the beginning, all this should have ended in 1991. It hasn’t. Happy Independence Day, Li-thu-a-ni-a! Everyone else – USSR is no more. That’s fifteen new countries to learn. Make a note in your calendars or something.


7 Responses

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  1. Pamela said, on March 11, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    When I was in high school (way before 1991!) I had a social science teacher from Lithuania and he made sure we learned about Lithuania separate from the USSR back then. I bet he’s celebrating today, too.

  2. ollka said, on March 11, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Pamela, I sure hope he is! It’s so nice to meet someone who knows what Lithuania is:)

  3. April said, on March 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Out of curiosity I found you on the map as soon as I began reading your journal, but I have to admit that I had forgotten over time.

    Never again, Ollka!

  4. ollka said, on March 12, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    That’s better, April:))

  5. Katieyw said, on March 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    favorited this one, dude

  6. bieksia said, on May 25, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Until now, L-i-t-h-u-a-n-i-a has been one of Europe’s best kept secrets! I used to take on the ingnorant and uneducated with mini lessons about LT until I came to the conclusion that I was just borring most people with facts that did
    not agree with their own stubborn ideas on the
    subject. Can’t tell you how many times I found myself explaining our heritage to people with
    obvious LT surnames either. I just could not them continue on through life thinking that they
    were Polish or Russian. More than just a few times I’ve been stopped dead in my tracks while discussing the subject of LT and surrounding nations as an LT descendant would say something along the lines of “what’s the difference?…we’re all Slavic anyway! That was just cause (In my mind) to slay the individual
    right where they stood!

    The truth is…LT and everything about LT is only
    important to us. Most of the world couldn’t care
    less about our history, language or culture.

    I prefer to keep the secret as is! Think of it as hiding away the best of the confections for only
    you and your close friends to savor!

    Lietuviais mes esame ir busime!


  7. ollka said, on May 26, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Mykolai, you’re awesome. One of Europe’s best kept secrets – priceless! Do you blog?

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