We find Inita thanks to a Norwegian acquaintance, who tells us she knows a great Latvian who used to own one of the cosiest and trendiest bars in Oslo’s Tøyen district. Inita’s bar is now closed, but she invites us to another, popular meeting place. There, enjoying a beer from an independent brewery and Swedish snus tobacco, Inita greets some friends at the neighbouring table and in her usual direct manner, tells the story of how she came to Norway.
n the 1990s and early 2000s, Inita held a series of responsible and creative jobs in Riga – at the first Latvian advertising agencies, producing TV shows and as head of marketing for Latvian National Television. After a divorce in 2004, she decided to look for experiences and adventures abroad. “When I decided to leave Latvia, my first thought was Norway, which I’ve been interested in since high school. I read Trygve Gulbranssen’s Beyond Sing the Woods and somehow fell in love with the nature and people. I gave up on the idea, though, because I didn’t know the language, and went to England instead. But when I was offered the chance to go to Norway later, I didn’t hesitate.”
Inita spent a few years in the UK, followed by the Netherlands, and in 2010, looking for change once again, she arrived in Norway. This choice was prompted by some Norwegian acquaintances met many years ago at a darts tournament – they offered her a job and place to stay. Darts are Inita’s hobby and lifestyle, and have played a major role in her life – thanks to darts she has travelled the world, made friends in many different countries, and met her current partner, Norwegian Therese. For a time she also played professionally, even reaching the top 10 ranking worldwide. In Oslo, Inita’s daily life and social environment are also shaped by darts – she often trains in the evenings, spends weekends at tournaments, and her team members are some of her closest friends.
Living in Oslo, Inita was able to develop her own business – the bar called Tyren, which has since closed. She opened the bar with two of her darts teammates – Inita wrote a business plan, received a bank loan, together they found and set up the space. With its friendly and relaxed atmosphere, the bar quickly became one of the city’s most popular places to hang out. Their regular clients are still among Inita’s friends – like Marianna, the Norwegian who introduced us. Although the bar was successful for a few years, its owners grew tired of Norway’s strict controls connected to the sale of alcohol. Their private lives also started to suffer due to intensive work schedules. Inita does not rule out the idea of another bar – talking to people and creating an environment where they can feel at home is what she loves doing.
On her future plans, Inita says: “For now, I definitely plan to stay in Norway. What would I do in Latvia? Well, if I ever do go back, I will open a bar, for sure. I’m not saying no to a new bar here, but I need time, to feel ready again – I’ll learn from my mistakes and experience. I don’t regret a dime of what I did and achieved. To tell you honestly – I will have my own business. I can work for others, but I’m too independent. Working for myself gives me more pleasure.”
Inita rarely visits Latvia. Only a few close relatives and old friends remain there. From her former marriage, Inita has two grown-up sons, who have now become global citizens themselves – Artis is studying ecological water management in the Netherlands, while Gints has currently returned to Latvia after starting studies in the Netherlands, and is now a student at the Latvian College of Culture in Riga. He worked for two summers at Inita’s bar in Oslo, and is also considering coming back to Norway after college to study or work. Inita’s relationship with her sons is very close – they support each other and are happy that each of them has found their right place.
Remembering her early years in Norway, Inita admits to some culture shock – the Norwegian and Latvian cultures turned out to be very different. “For the first few years, I found it quite hard to fit in, and keep my mouth shut – that’s not the kind of person I am. I made a few enemies that way, who later became friends. Here, you really have to prove yourself in the beginning. Norwegians live by Janteloven (the Law of Jante ) and do not support individualism. Children are brought up with the idea that no one is better than anyone else.” Picking up the language was hard in the beginning, but now Inita has no problems communicating, at least on a basic level. Her darts colleagues know they can speak to Inita in Norwegian, while she might answer in English.
Inita finds much to appreciate in Norway. Like other Latvians we met, nature is important to her: “I wouldn’t say that I am in my dream land, but Norway is the country I want to live in. Even just the nature here – I love being in the mountains and enjoying the expansive views. My other hobby is photography – specifically landscapes.”
Inita does not deny that Norway’s relative prosperity and social security makes life easier than in Latvia, but in itself, that is not the reason why she chooses to stay: “That’s not on my list. I’m more impulsive. To me, the most important thing is my independence. I’m funny that way. As my mum used to laugh – it’s like I fell off the back of a gypsy’s caravan. It is important to me that I can provide for myself – with a job or my own business – and that something is left over for my hobbies, darts and photography.”