VISION ON WATER: The floating house offers all the mobility one would ever need.
KLAIPEDA - When on a trip last November to the U.S., a chatty girl sitting next to me on the New York-bound plane from Miami started a conversation and asked me where I was from, I told her I am from Lithuania. I can still remember her condolence-soaked Southern drawl: “Oh, is it one of those small sleepy countries in Europe, close to Russia?” Exuding a little patriotism, I swear I swallowed the description with difficulty, and then carefully chose my words so as not to offend the lass who, after all seemed to be more interested in the Miami skyline than the conversation at that point. “Yes, geographically you’re right, but I’m not sure of its somnolence…” I blurted out, a little annoyed.
I am my country’s supporter!
And, to tell the truth, perhaps that was not the only occasion when I had recently come out in defense of Lithuania and disperse the biased notions of my companions over Lithuania’s diminutiveness, parochialism and, yes, time that has stopped here long time ago…
Is it just the peer journalists who are to be scolded for churning out only bad news, making the Lithuanians look bad to both ourselves and to foreigners? Let me present you with a very strong case in defense of Lithuania, proving the contrary: how incredibly vibrant and bustling it is, how stunningly ingenious, gifted, entrepreneurial and visionary the Lithuanians are and how we here on the Baltic coast are simply genuine. Here below is what I found, having flipped through the Web over the last few days…
First comes the grandiosity - literally- of Lithuanian entrepreneurship, with VP Market running the largest grocery retail chain in Lithuania and expanding over the border to Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia, being the flagship of Lithuanian business expansion.
Last week the media was buzzing about an awe-inspiring undertaking in the municipality of Alytus in the south of Lithuania, where the city council, among $100 million in measures aimed to invigorate the local life during 2013-2015, also voted for a $2 million project envisioning creation of a Western-style village with skin-weathered cowboys and wide-horned buffalos.
Some councilmen even quipped that the once industrial town had better start training the to-be cowboys and breeding the best quality buffalos at local farms for the American enclave.
“The investors need some six or eight hectares of land. As for the location, the project spearheads mull two spots - either at the new Lithuanian Millennium Bridge over the River Neman, or at the airport over Neman,” a woman representing the project’s authors said.
At the epicenter of the idea stands an eccentric, some say quaint, weirdo, who runs an extreme leisure camp in the Meshkasalis village of Alytus district and offers Indian educational programs in it.
Although the Zuvintas Biosphere Reservation director warned the councilmen the fodder and buffalo enclosure costs may be “really high,” the politicians dismissed the petty remark, as well as the snoopy media’s discovery that the Indian culture preacher got only a few worn-out cents jingling in his pockets. But the money bags, the investors’ rep assured, are already panting out there…
If all goes well, the Western style cowboys will trumpet, sending all invitations to come over already in a couple of years…
Make sure you get on the A- list now!
While the public survey polls find Lithuanians mistrusting others (however, regardless of that, crooks last year hustled over one million euros from the naive trusting, mostly elder compatriots who, when called, tended to believe in phony stories about their relatives being in trouble and in need of help), cautious and exhibiting little entrepreneurship, the fellows in Alytus and a lad in Radviliskis district, my another hero, shatter the perception.
Snails will go off!
Struggling to make ends meet and with few options around, the young farmer in the little town of Seduva in Radviliskis district (by the way, known for its awesome annual tulip festival, to which last week swung by President Dalia Grybauskaite and Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius) launched a snail farm.
There are over 300,000 small snails in the farm this season, which he called “Snails’ paradise.”
The graduate of the former Lithuanian Agriculture University, speaking to the local media last week, said he was convinced that the snail business will prosper. “It’s one of those businesses where profit margins are nearly certain, as it doesn’t need big investments. I plan to sell 20 tons of snails this year and earn some 200,000 litas (57,970 euros) and net profit of some 100,000 litas,” Kazimieras Rackauskis, the farmer, said. He added: “I tell everybody: don’t be afraid of novelties and try out your entrepreneurial skills!”
Welcome to Lithuania, Branson!
Have you already bought the tickets to see and listen to the extravagant CA billionaire Richard Branson, who will deliver a multi-million euro speech in Lithuania on June 2? What for most takes years and years to achieve, two young Lithuanians have done super-quickly - during three months they managed to talk the celebrity into coming to Lithuania.
Two stylish investors, founders of the Success Stars International and then Forum One, Darius Jonauskas and Martynas Shaikus, had been in the training and seminar organization business before narrowing their activity to specializing in the organization of exclusive once-in-a-lifetime events.
In the fairytale-like success story, the egg came before the chicken: they first decided to call to invite Sir Richard Branson to deliver a speech
“When we became obsessive with the idea, we called famous businessman Vladas Lasas, who is on good terms with the celebrity and asked him to help us. Sure, it was not easy as Branson’s company, Virgin, is very picky in choosing where to suggest for him to go. It took us three months to get a ‘yes for the trip to Lithuania. For example, Russia has been knocking at his door for the last three years. Still unsuccessfully,” noted Shaikus.
The price of the tickets on the black market, they say, has already skyrocketed to over $1,000. Needless to say, the box-office tickets have been sold out quickly- in a matter of a few days.
The sly young Lithuanian entrepreneurs are already pondering making other calls, inviting world-famous extraordinaire motivational speakers and opinion leaders, to visit the most happening country around, Lithuania.
“The idea that a small country like Lithuania cannot organize world-class events is a stereotype and an obsolete myth,” the Forum One owners maintain.
Less blessed Lithuanians may not have yet heard of the Californian prodigy, but perhaps they can bet that even he wouldn’t be able to figure out where the smuggled gas is the cheapest and, quality-wise, the best.
Last week’s survey by the market research company GfK Custom Research Baltic measuring the Baltic folks’ gas consumption habits revealed that Lithuanians are more tolerant in the use of smuggled gas, and know best where to get it.
Asked whether they knew where and from whom to buy illegal gas, 55 percent of Lithuanians answered positively, while the numbers in Latvia, and particularly in Estonia, were smaller, 47 and 21 percent, respectively.
A floating house or… museum at first
Lithuanian Rimantas Varanauskas, director of the public company Inovaciju Poligonas, drew newspaper headlines last week after announcing that he is working on a $350,000 floating house, equipped with renewable energy-powered appliances and equipment.
The gifted Lithuanian innovator has already patented the idea of an energy independent floating platform which, if necessary, can be rolled, using its wheels, on ground.
“People have always been attracted to dwell near the water. However, nowadays, to build houses in this proximity is pretty complicated due to the stringent environmental requirements. Besides, building a traditional house in a conventional way requires digging out pits for the foundation, laying out roads and entrances, which all harm nature. A floating house would allow mooring right on the shore,” related the Lithuanian builder.
He says the same principle of home building could be applied for, let’s say, a museum or a cafeteria.
Former EC Commissioner is missed!
When it comes to hammering out the best-quality top EU policy-makers, Lithuania also rightly seems to be the spawning creek.
Having handed the Lithuanian President Grybauskaite the Charlemagne Prize last week in recognition to her contribution to European integration, EP chairman Martin Schulz showered her with compliments. And more than that…
“You’re the person with whom three characteristics are always associated: energy, effectiveness and reliability… We miss you here…,” the EP head said, perhaps hinting that Grybauskaite would be the right person to lead the European Council after the incumbent President Herman Van Rompuy completes his tenure next year.
And really, why not? No doubt, the Steel Magnolia would make an awesome leader of the 28-member house!
Obviously, goldfish do not always breed at sea, contrary to the fairytale. A whole lot more gold nuggets can be found on solid ground. In Lithuania! In real life!