Saturday, October 1
Akmens Tilts, Riga, 09:10
Yesterday I did my presentation and this morning Andrew will do his. He wants to be slightly early, and as we will soon discover, this will involve arriving one hour early.
Riga has a large assortment of public transport: mini-buses, standard buses and bendy buses; trolley buses; and several kinds of trams. I have paused on the bridge to photograph an example of a small tram. The sun shines brightly but the air feels colder than you might expect.
Earlier in the week, before I knew that I would have to write a grant application from scratch in half a day, I spotted a final open pecha kucha session this afternoon. And I volunteered to take part in it. I therefore have my laptop with me again and will spend lunchtime making myself twenty slides.
Andrew will make an interesting presentation when the session eventually starts, and the morning will pass in a blur of sessions. Lunch will consist of a box of overcooked barley with a few pickles and will leave me feeling like a man in need of lunch. However, since it will take ninety seconds to eat I will have plenty of time for collaging together a pecha kucha, as well as chatting about the nature of art with a South Korean scientist.
The final pecha kucha session will take place at the very top of the building with a panoramic view of Riga on every side. Each pecha kucha reviews a book by the presenter and mine will take about some of the themes in my doctoral thesis: a rapid race through the nature of consciousness in 400 seconds. Afterwards, in the wine reception that ends the event, people will press me with questions and requests for the url where they can download the thesis.
The two Lithuanians will suggest that I would like to have a meal in the old town and then, when I have agreed, will promptly disappear again. I will conclude that perhaps, in a peculiarly Lithuanian manner, this constituted an enquiry about my habits rather than an invitation to join them. Which might also explain last night.
Andrew will not stay in Riga tonight and so he gives me the key to the apartment. I will wander around the old town for a couple of hours, vaguely looking for people to join but happy on my own. I will fail to find anyone or anywhere that entices me and, as it gets dark, I will fear that I might get lost. I will decide to head home, drop off the laptop which has become uncomfortably heavy, and then return. Instead I will pass Leningrad and go in there for a burger and beer.
The Leningrad Cowboy burger will come with a shot of vodka, and both it and the honey beer will taste excellent. To the delight of the barmaid “Ha, you actually like it!” I will have a second honey beer, and then return to the apartment where the real inhabitants have all mysteriously disappeared.