Tarzier Memoirs

Part I   Old Latvia





We innocent children were told all sorts of fantastic tales. By “innocent children” I mean me and Robert, two years my senior and companion in two decades of mischief. For a few years we believed in the story of Laiputria, the Latvian equivalent of Shangri-La. As Mother told the story, “Laiputria is a land of plenty. Nobody needs to work.”
I had already started on my lifelong quest to avoid work whenever possible. I couldn’t wait to hear more. Mother would continue:


“In Laiputria, one sits in the shade of fruit trees and plucks ripe fruit, the best there is. Fried chickens fly the skies, and sausages hang from tree branches. Nobody goes hungry, ever, ever.” But then Mother would nod her head gravely: “There is a small catch.”


“Oh no!” I would cry. “What is the catch?”

She’d explain with a sigh: “This wonderland is surrounded by a mountain of porridge. To get there, one needs to eat a tunnel through the porridge.”


My brother Robert and I held a secret conference. We figured we could cheat a little:

“Let’s wait till winter. When the porridge freezes solid, we’ll take our sled, climb to the top, then slide down into Laiputria. We’ll eat so much, our belly will burst open.”

But Osvalds, our older, wiser and nastier brother, shot us down mid-slope: “Laiputria is not in the center of a crater like a volcano, you silly. It is covered with porridge, like gold is in the center of the mountain. You can’t dive down into it.” Ah well.

Mother comforted us: “You can always eat your way into Laiputria, kids. A good way to start is to eat your breakfast. Bowl by bowl, you get to Laiputria.”

Did they really think they could lie to us for long?

I See Riga

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