Today’s interview is with Benjamin, a British expat who is living in Latvia.
ER: Where are you from?
B.G.: South East London, the UK.
ER: Since when have you been living in Riga?
B.G. I’ve been living in Riga for 1,5 years.
ER: How did you know about Riga for the first time?
B.G.: I first heard about Riga in the late 90s, as it was popular on the UK stag party eurotrash scene and we were building a negative reputation as Brits with our hard party antics. But I didn’t make it to Latvia until about 4 years ago, when I came here for my first time for a casual touristic visit.
ER: You are the owner of Mū Cafe. How long have you been working in the field of catering? Is it your first place?
B.G.: I specialized in historical heritage/industrial construction and was doing some stuff on British TV, but a few years ago I was on the verge of setting up a restaurant in London. However, the work commitments changed. My partner had a small specialist catering business here (ER: in Latvia), and we choose to upscale it, so that we could gain more income to create a family. We have added to the portfolio a new canteen, which was open last year, and the Restaurant “India Dock”, which will be ready in a few weeks.
ER: Do you like Riga? How do you feel about the country and its people?
B.G.: To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Riga as it was never my intention to settle in another capital city, but I love Latvia. I really like the countryside and the countryside people. They are less stuck up and more laid back, they are interesting because of their extensive knowledge in the fields of my interest like agriculture, rural heritage, construction, nature, and health. I find a bit of a class system in Riga, where academia looks down on other people and its not really nice when you have sat at both sides of the table in life. I’d rather have a conversation in a broken English with a toothless 80-year-old about bees than with somebody speaking to me about foreign affairs in a suit.
ER: Do you have many local friends?
B.G.: Honestly, the closest local friends are my employees, which can be deemed as a bit unhealthy, but they help me to understand the people and the nation better. I don’t have much time for a face to face connections outside the work at the moment. It is hard when you have your own business in a foreign country. My aim is to make some in the future to have the life-long ones.
ER: Where do you prefer to go out? What are your favourite places in Riga?
B.G.: I don’t really go out in Riga. If it’s raining, I love to be in the country house watching how the rain sprinkles the land or when it is sunny – to stay on a beach surrounded by supermodel people with my belly out ☺.
ER: What would you suggest to other expats just coming to Riga now?
B.G.: My biggest hypocritical statement will be, which I follow myself all the time… not to compare it to home and just see it as a new chapter of life. I have to tell myself this often when the fast food is slow and it takes 50 minutes for pizza to be delivered… and the banks are ridiculous… and, maybe, think about where you spend your money in a way as what you choose to support for the future. As would you like to see lots of different independent shops or just Double Coffee, Costa Coffee, Maxima and Narvesen for example. And don’t just focus on Riga or on living as central as possible, if you are looking for integration. If anyone invites you to their farm or country house, – go! You will definitely have a good time out there.
Published by ” Expats in Riga “