Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Filling in the Gaps = LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES!!

The goal of this post will be to fill in the gaps of my last few months between getting robbed, going to Sheregesh, celebrating Thanksgiving and almost losing my mind. A lot of things happened that sort of got glossed over, so I hope to give you a better picture of my life here. Emphasis on PICTURE - there will be a lot of them!

I've done quite few things these last few months. Remember when I visited that school? Yeah, I recently stumbled upon an interesting picture I had forgotten about. Look what I found in the sink...

It's all about the Benjamins...

I don't know what a sheet of fake 100 dollar bills was doing at the bottom the sink, but I think it says a lot about Russia. It might even qualify as modern art.

Also during this time I stopped by an exhibit on the main square of the city (Lenin Square) where they had dozens of boards with hundreds of pictures of Novosibirsk's youth (mostly Soviet, but a few modern ones). A lot of people liked the Soviet Union around here. I don't think I've heard a single Russian in Novosibirsk say a bad thing about the Soviet Union, actually.

It's the 95th anniversary of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Just take a minute to remember how good it was...

Should I translate this whole poster? Yes? No. But basically they are urging the reader to look into the faces of these young Soviets/Russians and to remember all that was.

"You are helping to liquidate poor grammar!"
So I took a picture of a propaganda poster I found to be interesting. The poster reads, "You are helping to liquidate illiteracy! Everyone to the society "Down with illiteracy." (If you are a professional translator and reading this and happen to be shaking your head frantically, cursing my poor Russian skills, then please correct me). But it's at least pretty darn close to that. Anyways, I always thought of the verb "to liquidate" as one word we often associated with the Soviet Union, but not with illiteracy. "Liquidate" is what you do to the bourgeoisie and the Royal Family, not poor reading skills. But I guess, "In Soviet Russia, car drives you", right?  

Man's Best Friend
Moving on with the powerful images, I attended an exhibit of Russian photography that had some pretty cool stuff. I attached some of my favorites. Some of them were powerful, but I guess most of the ones I happened to take a picture of were cute or funny. Oh well.
Protests in Moscow
Seriously, what does this cute little shivering fox say?

It doesn't matter that the world is frozen - get that run in!

Russia - cold, churches, and stray animals

Howdy, Partna'!

This is what happens in the Duma, Russia's "Parliament"
Ok, moving on. So the Olympic torch passed through Novosibirsk, and of course they had a huge event to honor it's arrival. But honestly, the event was kind of a let down. They had all these performances, mostly dressed in traditional costumes singing traditional songs, but literally no one in the crowd seemed interested. Whenever the MC would shout for everyone to make noise, a few people would lazily clap. It was possibly the deadest crowd I've ever been a part of.

Except when the torch arrived. Everyone cheered then, although it was hard to get a view on the crowded Lenin square. Some people clamored up onto the statue of Lenin to get above the masses.  But just as soon as the torch arrived, everyone left. It didn't matter that performances were continuing on the square. No one cared. They went to go do something more interesting.

So my company and I went and got some coffee in the geodesic dome that is Traveler's Coffee, and while we were there they launched some fireworks to commemorate the end of the festivities of the torch. It was cold outside anyway, better to watch from the safety of warm coffee!!

So at some point in all the madness that was December, I decided I wanted to see at a play at my new favorite theater - Krasniy Fakel (The Red Torch). I read the book in College and felt like I had to see this play. Note: The book is titled, in Russian "Отцы и дети" (Fathers and Children), but in English the book is titled "Fathers and Sons." For whatever reason this was translated back into Russian for the play "Отцы и сыновья." Translation is a mess.

Poor Bazarov... And yeah, I know it says November. It lies!
So I could have just gone to the play by myself. Or I could have brought a date. But why not bring three? And you know that whole thing about Russians dressing up for the theater? Yeah, forget that.

I liked the performance, but it wasn't as good as Masquerade. A 300 page book full of philosophical conversations doesn't actually make the best basis for a play, but they gave it a good effort. The acting was strong, but the stage set-up could have been a little more inspired. 

What else happened in this whirlwind time? Well, I went to see a hockey game! Our team, Sibir, in the blue. SI-BIR!, SI-BIR! SI-BIR!!! But they lost to Moscow. Damn Moscow.

The next picture might very well be from November. I don't remember. It was that kind of night. But it's a picture of one of the last nights of the club "Kilyov." Somehow being on the 5th floor and having no fire escapes became a problem for them, and they had to close. 

I will miss you (kinda), Kilyov. RIP.
When I wasn't out doing a million things spending ALL of my money, I could sit at home and admire the Christmas tree one of my classes was kind enough to give me. Thank you, Tatyana Tekibaeva and your wonderful students!

So I did actually compete in a track meet during this time, as my post from a month ago describes. But I was too lazy to upload any pictures. So here are a few.

These are actually from two different meets, a week apart. But they had a New Year's meet complete with Father Frost and a drunken run in "Valenki" (Felt boots??). Just look at the big things on their feet.

There was a wide spectrum of age groups and seriousness. Again, Russia is chaos. People of all levels are running at various times, there are no uniforms, there is no visible clock, the schedule changes without warning, it's hard to get information, but all the same some people run some incredible performances.

So we have the Flash... a witch... a big yellow snowman... some cats, and who knows what else.
The fast heat of the 800. Anton is our guy in the Red singlet and blue shorts. And someone's wearing a Santa hat?

This kid is just adorable.

And then some people wear stuff like this...

Yeah, don't smile, you're not happy.

The scraggly crew. It never ends well when you race in a t-shirt... But go Whirlaway!
So finally we get to yesterday, where I participated in a study and got a free EKG. No, there isn't anything wrong with my heart. I also got to take some personality/mindfulness tests in Russian. THAT was fun... I didn't get the results back, but judging by how I was answering the questions, I'm not very mindful and I'm ridiculously judgmental of my own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Also, I'm not sure what they're trying to conclude from this study - better athletes are more mindful? Also, no waiver. Sometimes Russia has more paperwork than you can imagine being necessary, and sometimes there's no paperwork at all. Chaos.

Alright, that's enough for now. As Louis C.K. would say, "Stop telling people about your life and just live your life."

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