Pines on the rocks.
Evergreen pine symbolizes longevity, loyalty and discipline. Favorite landscape of Chinese painters is curved pine, while Western artists usually depict shapely tall pines. The halls of Chinese hotels are often decorated with paintings depicting the twisted pine branch. It is a symbol of hospitality as a curved pine branch is similar to inviting gesture.
Along with China, the Japanese admire the pines that grow on the rocks. People admire the endurance of the trees which forced to live in restricted conditions in Japan and in China. So an art form of growing replica of the tree in miniature has appeared. Plant growth is regulated by the plane of the root system. In Japan this art form called Bonsai (Jap. 盆栽 – letters. “Grown in the tray”), and in China Pentszin (Chin. 盆景, pinyin: pén jǐng; literally – “a landscape in a pot”). So one of the branches of Bonsai (not to be confused with battle cry – “Banzai” Japanese) “Isitsuki” literally means “growing on rock”. Most often used for Isitsuki pine.
And now Eastern sages and philosophers are sitting at home contemplating the splendor of nature on their windowsills. They hold a bowl of fragrant green tea and talk about strength, endurance and unpretentiousness of evergreen trees. And many of us should learn from the pines how to use stamina and vitality.
Well, what am I getting at?
So I’ll start from the beginning. My name is Bakyt and I arrived in Latvia from Kyrgyzstan in 2014. I came to study in Latvian Business College.
The first word that I heard in the Latvian language was: Uzmanību. And a prelude to excursion in Riga was: “Latvia can differ from your conception of a European country”. I did not realize the depth of meaning of this phrase at first, actually, I’ve got it in my way. Every time coming back to the hostel by the trolleybus Number 15, peering into the gloomy houses on the Ludzas street and gloomy faces of the passengers trolleybus I remembered a phrase said at the beginning of my arrival. But soon I became closer acquainted with Latvia and I can tell I fell in love with this country. Latvia really was not the same I had imagined. And it’s not because the beauty of Latvia, not because of listed building. The point is in its inhabitants. People, who has kept their humanity, kindness and diligence. People who are resistant as that pine on the rocks, hospitable and kind. Perhaps because of these qualities some cities in Latvia, such as Ogre and Pavilosta chose the pine as the symbol of the city.
I can confidently say that people in Latvia are good and emotional. They look stale, but open, give them the momentum – and the wall of misunderstanding will break!
I’ve being living in Latvia more than a year. And when I turn to for help to ask the locals, they never deny me.
I still remember my second day in Latvia when I got lost and could not find the address. I turned to the man with the request to help me. He kindly explained, and then even drove me to the door, though he had to go in another direction. I especially thank the staff of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs. The people there combine the professionalism and humanity. Honestly, with this rhythm of work it is very hard to be polite and help everyone in the long queue. The same thing is with the Rigas Satiksme workers. With their help we get to the desired destination. It’s hard to be polite when you can hear rude words during the performance of your duties. But despite this they keep there professionalism.
Once I witnessed a man with disabilities who insulted the driver of the bus number 40. In response the driver politely asked for forgiveness. And recently, I was going home late and two “disadvantaged” people entered the bus. They had a corresponding fragrance and clothing was not with the first freshness. One of them was aged, the other was young. Then they decided to eat some chocolate. They had a bar of chocolate. And after they opened it – the older said to the young to suggest it to other passengers of the bus at first. He said it was necessary. The young man walked around offering the chocolate to everyone in the bus including the driver. But of course no one picked up and they began to eat it themselves “with a clear conscience”.
And I was sitting and thinking about a little, resistant, beautiful and hospitable Latvia. Yes, Latvia is a great place, there are many historical monuments, picturesque lakes, beautiful forests here. But that’s not the wealth of the country, the wealth of the country is its people. People who love their country, in spite of everything, like the pines on the rocks have preserved the qualities of strong people. After all, how high will the dust rise with the wind, it will always be the dust, but gold coin fallen in the mud will not lose its value.
Dievs svētī Latviju, mūsu Latviju!
Bakyt Shatenov, 2015