mort09 May 2nd, 2010
Monday of this week I went to Natasha’s apartment with Irina for tea. Natasha and Irina are from my singing class – I talked about them earlier in this post. It was nice to see where Natasha lives, and she is incredibly sweet. She set a beautiful table in her 5- or 6-year-old son’s room (which had a piano, a chemistry set, a big Periodic Table, and a map of the world on the wall) and we drank tea and ate a delicious cake that she baked. Then we decided to do crafts – Natasha and Irina are really into crafts. So we all made beaded tea light candle holders.
On Tuesday I went to see Swan Lake at the Culture Palace. It wasn’t a big city production by any means, but it was fun to watch, especially since I’ve never been to a ballet before in my life. Apparently the two leads are married – the man is from Ukhta and the woman is from Japan. She danced beautifully, and I also really enjoyed the jester. I have to admit, though, that I spent a lot of time during the performance thinking about Center Stage (“News flash: there’s more to being a great dancer than perfect technique.” “Oh yeah? Try dancing Swan Lake without it.”).
Also on Tuesday, this is always one of my favorite moments with a new class:
“Did you have a boyfriend in the United States?”
“And he let you go to Russia!?”
Friday we watched Saved with the English film club. People seemed to enjoy it but said that it was completely different from any Russian film (which was part of the reason I wanted to show it). They said that Russians just don’t make movies about religion. At least not modern religious movements, I guess.
On Saturday I went again to Yarega (one of Ukhta’s industrial settlement “suburbs”) to visit Zhenya and her family (I was also there on Easter). It was quite fun to sit around talking to her, her mom, and her mom’s friend (also named Zhenya) who was visiting from Minsk about moving to foreign countries, visas and citizenship, and feminism. Husbands and boyfriends are usually more possessive here (see above quote), and Zhenya (from Minsk) was also complaining about how she works 11 hours a day (her husband only works 5-8) and still has to come home and cook dinner and clean because the men (her son is 18) refuse to do it.
The past couple weeks everyone has been doing “subbotniki.” The word comes from “subbota,” which means “Saturday,” but none of the subbotniki I’ve heard about so far have been on Saturdays. Basically, at any place where you live, work, or study, you are assigned a day to go out with a group and clean up around the building. So people have been out in droves lately shoveling snow, raking away leaves, grass, sticks, and trash, painting curbs and the bottoms of trees white (apparently it repels bugs), and burning grass (so that new, green grass can grow in before summer ends).
This Saturday was Labor Day, and next Monday, May 9, is Victory Day! I’m heading to Moscow for the weekend to see friends and the big parade, so I’ll write about that when I return on the 12th.