Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where have all the Rigan's Gone ?

We all knew it was gong to happen, but it was still a shock to wake up on Tuesday morning, to find that the better part of Riga partitioned off, behind miles of Steel barriers. Not sure if this was to keep the NATO participants in , or keep the citizens out.

The city was almost surreal in its appearance. It was almost totally deserted, with only a few people on the streets, and absolutely no cars, other than what I can only assume were the official ones. Clearly the citizens of Riga had taken the advise of the government to heart and stayed away.

Some streets had armoured personnel carriers, indeed one was parked at the bottom of P.... (dog lover, horse fancier) street- surely know one had told the powers that be that he was a potential terrorist ?

Only limited access into the old town - in fact only three ways you could get in, but strangest of all was Livi square, complete with the wooden huts so familiar when a fair is one, the trees were decorated with Christmas lights, all very twee - no people of course, as presumably all the 5000+ NATO attendees were otherwise engaged serving their masters, be they political or media type.

The pictures below were taken at 10.30am this morning on Brivibas iela, which on a normal morning would be packed with cars, buses and pedestrians, but as you can see not today - well apart from the police. I am told that for the last two days over 10,000 police/army have been on duty, to provide security for the NATO delegations.

On of the strangest sights was the sudden appearance of pink and green porta loos, they were all over the place, but exclusively for the use of the police ?? - so no British P...s Heads then.

Speaking of security, I was watching on the Internet our Mr Blair giving an interview outside the Hall where the meeting was taking place. He simply walked out of the building, over to the waiting press, spoke his few words, answered some question and strolled back into the building. all on his own - no minders - nothing - wonder what would happen if George did the same thing ?

Anyhow the whole shindig ends this evening, with security restriction ending at 7.30pm this evening, and as I write I can heart he screaming sirens as the heads of state are driven back to the airport. In a way I wish the security could have lasted just a few more days, just so this weekends arrival of cretins could have seen real security at work, and perhaps told there friends that Riga is a police state and should not be visited - but no - with immaculate planning the cretins will not even know the event was on, nor the disruption it caused - pity !

Finally a thought for all the various guests as they leave Riga, I wonder what their memories of Riga will be ? well each of them has been given a special gift - Mittens !

What will 9,000 hands have in common during the NATO Summit in Riga this November? 4,500 pairs of traditional hand-made Latvians mittens!

That’s what the NATO Summit Latvia Task Force has prepared for Summit guests. The mittens were specially knitted by hundreds of women and men around the country ranging in age from 30 to 86. Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colors, patterns and symbols.

For Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia (Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme.) Some mitten designs are specially intended for weddings or other special events.

There is even a rich tradition of folkloric etiquette associated with the wearing, storing and displaying of mittens. (More about The story of a thousand year old Latvian mitten)All, mittens for men and women are different in size. Men’s mittens in general are bigger. In addition, more dramatic and reserved colours are characteristic for men’s mittens. The colours in women’s gloves are brighter and more cheerful.

The ornamentation elements are “blended in” from one neighbouring region into another; therefore the identification of a mitten to a particular region can be characterized more precisely by the composition of its colours and shades. Latgale is a land of linen; therefore linen-grey light colourings predominate in gloves of this region. Similarly, bright and joyful colours are characteristic for Latgale and also Kurzeme. Also the word “rakstaini” more precisely characterizes mittens from Kurzeme, because their ornamentation is brighter than in other regions. Calm and vibrant earthy colours are the basis of mittens from Zemgale. However, light and beige colourings are typical for Vidzeme.

For most Latvians, this project is a special source of national pride, because it combines tradition, culture and history with something of lasting practical value that will be enjoyed around the world.

So there we go Riga and Latvia has had its 15 minutes of fame, and our leaders have got mitten's - so the world will be a safer place will it not ?:


Anonymous Helmut said...

thanks to Latvian mittens sure the world will be safer place :))
hey, check out my pictures of NATO in Riga, i took a walk last evening and did some shots

3:30 pm  

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