Stockholm- A Culture Capital

Stockholm- A Culture Capital
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moscow New Year! с Новым годом!

Well 2010 was an exciting year for me. I started my English teaching career successfully, visited 5 new countries, broke my NYC Cherrie, and boarded 15 international flights, along side some domestic planes and trains. I have learned a new alphabet and a few phrases from the crazy Russian language that has become part of my day to day life. I also call one of the worlds largest cities my home- Moscow.

Having moved to Russia for the year I wanted make sure I celebrated New Year in a Traditional way. My Students filled me in on all the tricks of the trade.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS: To start I dressed as a Rabbit- this is the animal of the Chinese Zodiac for 2011 (also used in Russia) and it is part of the tradition to dress as this animal.

SWALLOW ASHES: At the stroke of 12 you must yell Happy New Year, then write your wish for the year on a piece of paper, burn it, and drink the ashes in Champagne.

EAT FRENCH SALAD: Somewhere along the line a salad called ‘Salad Olivier’ a mix potatoes, mayo, and other vegetables, and ham or other meat became a Russian New Year tradition. The salad was actually invented in Russia by the chef of the Hermitage Restaurant named Lucien Olivier, a Russian of Belgian origin. Luckily I got to sample the tasty salad made by both Russian and Expat friends.

OPEN YOUR DOORS: This one you must wait for until ‘Old New Year’ on January 13th when Russia used to celebrate the New Year. On this you are supposed to open your door at midnight and invite in the New Year.

Other than the fun traditions I had the pleasure of a 10-day vacation from work to welcome in the New Year through relaxation and exploration. Thank you to all the people and places that have made 2010 so great, and to those who will make 2011 even greater!

с Новым годом!

Angry New Year

Unbelievable. When I stopped home on my way to a party to find my room mate had moved out. (YAY) The flat was next to trashed. (Not so yay, but half expected) Dishes in the sink, and food left rotting out. The slow realization that it will take me a full day to get the old shit from my scummy, fat, drunken monster of a room mate out of my life for good. (Worth it in the end). Oh and the extremely slow realization that my clothes I had put in the washing machine happen to not be in my room, in the kitchen, my room mate’s room, ANY cupboard, garbage, bathroom, or closet. They were not on the balcony….

So where could they be? I look around again. Where could they be? I love my clothes; hopefully he didn’t take them by mistake…Where COULD THEY BE?

Open window on the balcony… No way.

Look Down… Yes way!

In fact way, way. Down is my clothes hanging like ghosts throughout the tree branches far below my 14th floor balcony (UNBELIEVABLE!) That drunken old bastard! So, despite my shock and need for revenge I suit up, grab the broom and see if I can get my clothes from the trees outside. Some of my favorites-- Khaki pants from my brother’s wedding, a sweater from Germany, a dress shirt from Spain, and another from South Africa. Unbelievable. I mean are you kidding me? Housing will be getting a call about this.

I manage to fish down the sweater, only mildly damaging my broom. But can’t reach the others so go up the 3rd floor hoping to go out on the balcony and get the others. A woman from her door is yelling at me in Russian but I have no idea what she is saying, then she get to the door and opens it with a slow mumble. She lets me in and I say some nonsense in no language either of us know but I point to my recovered sweater and the broom and point to her door. She doesn’t stop my advance into her flat so she must have noticed the clothes. I go in and the dog barks like a hellhound as it wipes its ass all over the floor. Instantly I am hit with the musky scent of years of hot dank isolation.

Memories of Detroit ghetto coming whirling back to me as I enter the dark flat and the Babushka locks the door and calms the dog. I start to advance to the balcony before I can get no for an answer, I fumble for the light but she turns it on and I meet her scowling bed ridden husband, I say hi in Russian and go to the balcony, easily grab my pants, and narrowly miss the African plaid. I use an old ski rod I find on the balcony but can’t manage to unhook the sleeve. As I am teetering over the edge head first I decide my life is worth more this new years than to get my last 2 shirts, so I go back inside and plan to return the next day when I have more time or hire out a fire truck.

The Old Russians keep talking to me as if I was their Grandson but everything just spins through my head with the rage and disbelief I am feeling. Finally the newest phrase my students taught me pops into my head. Ya Nyez Nayu! I don’t know! The old man keeps talking. Ya Nyez Nayu! HE keeps talking, then he yells it back ‘Ya Nyez Nayu?!’

At this point I decide to leave. I take a rain check for the night and decide to bring in the new year with friends, hopefully it does turn happy.

He Lives!

As people keep telling me, and I keep noticing myself: I seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. I didn’t fall off but I have been blending in with the snow and sludge crusted crust of the Moscow streets. I am going to get the New Year Started off in a more informative, yet informal way.

So here is a quick run down of my two missing months:

-->I packed up everything in my flat in Moscow and left it in a big pile to be moved to a new flat as I went to my brother’s wedding.

-->I spent a week in Canada buying things you just can’t get in Moscow, caught up with friends and family, and celebrated Christmas early.

-->Then I jetted off to Mexico to spend a sun-soaked week of PURE BLISS with some of the closest friends and family I have and had to honor of being the best man at my brother’s wedding. Although I am just his brother, I had the feeling a dad might have when he gives away his son to someone who has known him for such a short time. He is my ONLY brother. However, I am gladder for my brother than anyone could be and his darling wife Danielle is the perfect match for him. Therefor I am willing to share him.

-->I then returned to Moscow and had to find and unpack my into new flat. This is where life became a whirl wind: No internet at home, teaching, applying and interviewing for two new teaching courses, and dressing up as Santa Clause for promotional lessons with the school took over my life.

-->I celebrated my birthday with a long overdue ABC party and dressed as a giant Matroyhka (Russian Stacking Doll). Then my dear friend and fake wife Mila came to visit me as she Blitzes the globe, and then of course came Christmas with my dear adopt-a-family here in Moscow. And I discovered the great perk of being a teacher- CHRISTMAS PRESENTS AND CHAMPAGNE!!!

Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and in 2011 I will keep the writing a little more consistent.

Life is Fantastic!