Archive for September, 2010

DEGRADATION OF SOMETHING

September 27, 2010

The Russian magazine “Vokrug Sveta” (“Round the World”) has been published for a century and a half already. The proud date of its foundation “1861” is printed on the title page of every issue. Thanks to the magazine millions upon millions of boys and girls could in no time travel to the jungles of Africa or ski with Amundsen through the snows of Antarctica. They could unfurl the sails on the masts of imaginary ships as easily as they could rush through the Universe in a photon-powered spaceship, and they carried that childhood well into their adulthood.

Alas, more pragmatic times have arrived! In a newspaper kiosk I saw the latest issue of “Vokrug Sveta” with a kind of a cartoon on the cover and a splash headline: “The Secret Weapon of Detectives and Burglers” (the subtitle was: “One-and-a-half century of Miraculous Inventions”). The magazine also contained two articles about the history of narcotics and drug-addiction in different countries. There was an article about chorus songs the people of the Caucasus sing round a festive table. To cap that all, some author gave a retrospective description of the industry of strong drinks. To substantiate the author’s research there was a photo of a hooch-still introducing the article (see the reprint below).

In one of my earlier blog-entries I mentioned how popular was chess-playing in the Soviet Union. The names of Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasiliy Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosyan, Boris Spasskiy, Anatoliy Karpov, Garry Kasparov were known to EVERYBODY in the country –from a teenager to an elderly person. Now, when I go to work in the morning, I pass a souvenir kiosk underground at the metro entrance. In its window a chess board with pieces on it is displayed. The pieces are in the form of small wine-glasses with pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, kings and queens portrayed on them.

One last observation related to the topic. It’s a photo of a bookshop. The bookshop isn’t going to be opened. It is being closed down. Until recently I used to drop in at the shop. Some books I bought there were really good.

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AN END HAS A START

September 25, 2010

Late last August I met my daughter at the airport. She returned from the U.S.A. where she had stayed (all told) for 15 years. In America she went to high school, graduated from a liberal arts college with two majors, worked at a bank for some time and, finally, earned a PhD in Economics at the George Washington University.

This time our daughter stopped with us only for a couple of days before she headed for another country – she landed a good job there and in early September she was to start lecturing macroeconomics to university students.

A few days ago there arrived the baggage which Yasya had sent to Kyiv by sea. They were seven big boxes. We do not have a car, so to bring the boxes from the post-office my wife and I used two trolleys which we generally utilize for shopping. One trolley was of Ukrainian make, and was named the “kravchuchka” (Kravchuk-cart) – having gained popularity under the first Ukrainian president Mr. Kravchuk in the early 1990s. The second trolley had been brought by our daughter after her first year in the U.S.A. By analogy with the corresponding Ukrainian means of transportation the American trolley received the jocular name “clinton-ka”.

For some reason it has become “the order of the day” to criticize the U.S.A. But I am grateful to this country. It financed my daughter’s studies to an extent which is generous even to American citizens. What is no less important, Yasya met intelligent and kind people there who liked her and supported her all the time. Our daughter is a free-thinking person, she is open to other cultures.  While remaining a Ukrainian at heart she has become a world citizen – in the sense defined by one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. Thomas Paine: “My country is the world, all men are my brethren and my religion is to do good.”

We opened the boxes. My wife was sorting out Yasya’s clothes and footwear. I was looking through our daughter’s pictures and listening to her CDs with songs – as if trying to re-live and re-feel her “American” experience. Fifteen years make a “geologic” epoch in a person’s life – especially when the person is young. And these seven boxes… much of those years were crammed into them.

Anyway, our daughter is on a new track. There will be new people, new pictures and new songs.  May you be happy, Yasochko.


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