Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A new start for 2007…

New Years was ok this Year. I wouldn't say I had a great time because I really didn't. I mean, there were some good moments but there were also some dog moments that sort of spoiled the fun. If I had to rate the holiday on a scale of one to ten, I would probably give it a five or maybe something in the 4's. Maybe I am being a harsh judge, but I like to think that I can still call-them-like-I-see-them. I can't say six. It wasn't a six.

Probably it started by my not being able to leave my desk until six on the thirty-first. I thought I might be finished with my days responsibilities by early in the afternoon but this simply was not the case and I was a bit angry by the time I could finally stand up. This made for a sour mood. And then I didn't get much of a dinner, all of the nice food was allocated for our first of the year feast and so I had to run out to the store just to get some stuff for sandwiches at the last moment. We made it to the stores just seconds before they closed for the holidays and of course all of the stuff you might actually want was already sold or packed away; we did ok, but it was a disappointment.

So we were all a little on edge to start with. After sandwiches we tried to play a little dominoes but Egor wouldn't play with us, choosing instead to go strait to bed at 8:00. you'll understand what he was thinking of in a minute, but at this moment, I was put off that he would stay and play with us a bit. Anya sat in for him and this was kind of cool and she actually managed to figure out that the threes match the threes and the fours the fours three or four times. But for some reason she decided she needed to cry every time we mixed the tiles so this probably took what was left of the wind from our sails. We started watching and fell asleep about nine.

At eleven the alarm went off and I dragged Egor out of bed to go biking. This is our usual way to greet that actual New Year. They do things a little differently here in Belarus. Whereas in the west, we start the parties in the evening and make the midnight the center attraction, here midnight is a much smaller part of things. Oh yes, people shoot off their personal fireworks as the clock turns, this is one of the things we are looking for during the bike ride, but basically, the party starts here at about 2am.

So at about 1:15 we rode home and changed clothes and picked up Anya and Tanya and a bottle of homemade wine and walked back to Lenin Square. Somewhere between five and 10,000 people were out to celebrate together. The weather, as it has been since that October freeze was again no different from say, San Francisco; Maybe forty degrees, no snow, no ice. Yes, I agree that having a dry track makes for better biking but celebrating Belarusian New Years would REQUIRE at least a little white, don't you think? Well, Ded Moroze and Snegurochka showed up and there was a short but super fireworks salute. Anya decided to cry at this too, but I won't hold it against her.

And then the party started and we had ourselves a full on disco out on the ploshad. People were drinking, people were eating and dancing and socializing. I shared some wine with another group and they fed me some remarkably for-hospital-use-only vodka labeled CCCP. I was ok with all of this, but then Tanya wanted to go home.

Why? Why must we go home?

And this is what started a big fight. I held out like it was the Alamo, but it turned out to be a Brest Fortress deal; I was dead and I knew it. If there was a bright spot it was from a group of young people who kept offering me drinks of vodka in the hopes of getting me to stop the fight. I wasn't fighting to hurt anybody, I just wanted to enjoy the evening, that's all. How many New Years do you get?

To make a long story short, we were home at a little after four and kept up the fighting till just before six. In the end, I made my point but at what cost and to what end; the evening was already gone.

The New Year's feast was nice actually. Tanya made a lot of food and all of it was really tasty and we washed it down with a lot of home made wine. After, we went with Anya to another Ded Moroze show and danced a bit more around the yolka and then went to friends who have children about Anya's age so she could get a little real play time in.

If there was a real bright spot in all of this, it came later in the evening. The program schedule for TV offered basically all of the favorite movies of the USSR all day long, but in the evening were scheduled two installments of the Osobenosti Nationalnaya Ohoti and Ribalki (The Special National Hunting and Fishing Trip) Films. Oh, how I love these movies. I don't think I can even describe them; they are farces about a group of Russian men who go off for a little recreational sport hunting and fishing which basically consists of drunken lunacy. The adventures they get into are outrageous but the ironic and dry humor is what makes these films simply genius.

Fat Lieutenant: "They were bombing us with cows."

Policeman: "I'll see for myself." (To pilots) "What is this business about dropping cows from this airplane?"

Pilots: "What cows? We know nothing of this."

Policeman: "Open the bomb hatch!" (When they do several buckets of piss and shit drop out onto the tarmac)

Fat Lieutenant: "You see I told you!" (At this moment we see that the cow, with all four legs spread as wide as possible and grabbed on the edges of the bomb doors rather than allow itself to fall.)

Policeman: "So, it seems that we indeed have a cow here in this plane. How did he get here?"

Pilots: "This is a surprise to me. Perhaps he climbed in there himself?"

I am not sure if the film would translate or not, but getting to sit through this pair of absolute classics broke any hard feelings I may have received from any disappointments.

Anyway, that was New Years. And if there is anything more to say, it might be that the fight we had has seemed to have had a positive effect on the whole house and we have set off for a healthier, smarter and more determined year. I know I have a lot to do and so do we all. Tanya is due to head back to work soon, Egor has the national chess tournament in Minsk to prepare for and I have my new .com to get up and going. And of course there is the farm season to look forward to. I have high hopes for 2007 and I think it would be nice to have a good year.

Of course that Gazprom deal will cost Belarus some money- not so much as Europe would have liked, but enough so that we all know that it will be felt. In one of the toasts we made with the CCCP vodka, I mentioned that Gazprom deal which, as of that moment, nobody knew the results of. But without even a second thought the guy I was toasting with cut off even the slightest mention of any unpleasantness: "Vsyo Budit Horoshow." He said. All will be ok.

I know I ended the last blog the same way, but hey, here in Belarus, we go with what works.

More soon…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam, you might remember that during the cold war, we never imagined that the Soviet Union had such things as humerous or recreational movies like you describe. It is a shame we didn't get a chance to watch the translated versions of these movies during the cold war. Maybe our opinions would have been broadened.

Why did Tanya want you to come home early? Was she afraid that you would drink too much and be sick? Or maybe get into a fight?

You are proably aware that drinking in public in America will most likely get you arrested, regardless of whether you are drunk or not.

What a luxury, to walk and maybe ride the subway to a wonderul citywide new years eve party.

I am not bashing america, because that would be just petty, but I must say that we don't have the same kinds of public parties here. Maybe because we all have to drive to get places, maybe that is why alcohol is so persecuted here.

So, for my own political opinion of your story, it appears that in the land of "big brother" sometimes you have more freedoms than you would here in the "land of the free"

Perhaps maybe there are other civil liberties enjoyed by Belarusians that most Americans have long since forgotten, given up on, or maybe even never had.

Morover, one of the reasons why Americans can't drink openly and publicly is that we have a giant underclass with flagrant violent and destructive criminal tendencies. The same scene in America would be very dangerous depending on which city you were in.

It should be noted that one of the reasons Belarus is able to have outdoor parties like you describe is that the Soviets invested some of their assets into social engeneering and education. Belarus may be short of cash today, but if they had ignored thier poor like we have in America, they would be a little bit richer.

If every lower class person in America was to suddenly have the edcucation and literacy enjoyed by the Average Belarusian, either the United States would have a larger national debt, or we would not have been able to afford to fire so many Tomohawk missels at Bagdad to "free them" and give them "democracy" like we have here.

It sounds like a great celebration, I can't wait till Anya is old enough to whip all of your asses at dominos.

Mike Miller

Sunday, January 07, 2007  

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