Friday, March 23, 2012

冬天的莫斯科

雪花狂舞的莫斯科,想象一下画面在舞动,连室内都听到呼呼疾风。
俄罗斯煎饼和蔓越莓果酱,很幸福吧!藏在新加坡衣柜四年的毛皮大衣,终于“出柜”了。

我经常想一个问题,天气对人的影响是什么,对一个民族性格的形成会带来怎样的作用。离开雪花狂舞,疾风呼啸,雪地极度危险,楼层天花板随时有凝结雪块跌下砸死人的莫斯科,我就更加思考这个问题。
我人生有三怕,怕大蒜、怕壁虎、怕我爱的人离开我,当然还有点怕鬼,除此之外几乎天不怕地不怕。可是来到庞大和复杂的莫斯科,尤其是冬天,我怕了。我不敢自己一个人去搭地铁,没有勇气一个人去闯荡令当地人也看不懂,还反过来问我地铁路线。我出去一下地铁站,朋友的女儿坚持要陪着我,她说一定要的。我一个人在险恶的雪地上走,多次差点路滑倒,幸好总有一双手及时扶着我。路过的慈祥老爷爷和奶奶总在嘴里嘟哝:孩子呀,小心,路很滑。他们自己拿着拐杖,走一步退两步的还会关心我?
我有一天在莫斯科是不敢出去的,我留在家里写作,做饭,朋友一家五口回来很惊喜的马上有饭吃,换来他们的赞美和衷心感谢。我的睡房是朋友的女儿的,里面养了一只两岁的变色龙——恐龙型的壁虎。它一直凝视着我,昼夜都在陪着我。我竟然连它都不怕,怕冬天的莫斯科?什么比较可怕? 是陌生和未知?是冬天带来的影响?为什么自己那么没有用?严寒的冬天使人更亲近些,更敏感一些?我还在想这个问题。

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chinese baby on Russian soil
























Tsui Tin and Liu ze-wen - my friends from China just gave birth to their first-born. She is not even named in Chinese yet. Her name is Sofia Liu. We waited for her with great anticipation since her parents got married in Kaliningrad on the 1st of January this year. She weighs 3100 gram, and her height is 48 cm. Just a few days ago, her parents graduated in our univeristy. Within 7 months, they accomplised three main things in life - Marriage, Graduation, Welcome their new-born. And we were happy to participate in all of them!


I drafted a letter on her behalf to our Russian teachers in the university.


Здравствуйте!

Меня зовут София Лю. Несмотря на то, что Вы меня ещё не знаете,но я всё-таки решила написать Вам письмо! Я с огромным счастьем только-только появилась насвет, и мои родители – Лю Цз Вень и Цуй Тин! Они не только познакомились,влюбились в друг друга, но и поженились в Калининграде! Более того, я уже родилась в этом городе, чтобы увидеть его своими глазами!

А сейчас, я Вам расскажу немножко о себе! Я родилась 3 юля2011 года в 18 часов 23 минут. Мой вес – 3100 грамм и рост – 48 см! Я ужеувидела моих родителей, и всех красивых тётей! Пока мы с мамой и папой отдыхаемв Родильным Доме № 4. Сказали, что мы можем идти домой в эту субботу! В началесентября, нас трое собирается поехать в Китай. Я буду впервые видеть моих бабушек и дедушек!

Как и все новорождённые, я либо сплю либо плачу, когда менянадо кормить. Хотя я ещё не хожу по улицам, но я уже заглядывала у окнапрекрасный летний вид. Зеленые листы танцуют, ветер дует, везде цветущие дерева,люди с детьми весело ходят на улице.

Спасибо моим родителям за рождение! Спасибо Вам заподдержку, за дружбу и за всё!

С Уважением,

София Лю

Sunday, April 24, 2011

从加里宁格勒探测波兰与俄罗斯的外交脉搏





走好、走稳下一步需要勇气和睿智

-- 从加里宁格勒探测波兰与俄罗斯的脉搏

来到加里宁格勒(Kaliningrad )学俄语 ——与欧盟国家波兰和立陶宛接壤的俄罗斯飞地 ,仍然乐此不疲参加一些国际论坛或会议。去年秋天出席两个关于考古和文物保留、以及城市建设的会议,故意不听翻译就是为了加强听力,专业的术语听得我两个耳朵都要竖到头顶了。日前到俄罗斯外交部出席一个俄波两国外交官对话的系列论坛,此情此景似是陌生,又是熟悉。原本没有采访的企图,却本能的把越来越听懂的官方俄语给抄下来。不过距离完全听懂的境界,路还很远。

加里宁格勒距离波兰北方的主要城市格但斯格(Gdansk)很近,我曾坐了三个多小时的巴士就到波兰了。作为波罗的海上唯一仅存的俄罗斯领土,非常敏感的地缘政治一直主宰加里宁格勒的命运。与波兰的互动似乎是两国关系或冷或暖的温度计,很直接投射到加里宁格勒人的头上来。尤其是近来,远则在首都莫斯科的国营第一电视台也沸沸扬扬集合两地政治家、学者和导演进行讨论,希望两国在外交上展开新的篇章;近则在这里也举行系列论坛。加里宁格勒的地方性报纸更是经常报道有关的进展。

同根同源的斯拉夫国家,语言文化相近,俄罗斯与波兰却有超过400年一语难以道尽的恩怨情仇。俄国曾三次参与瓜分波兰,波兰军也曾两次进入莫斯科。去年410日,波兰总统莱赫卡钦斯基的专机在俄罗斯的卡廷森林附近坠毁,目的是出席70周年的祭奠活动。机上包括卡钦斯基夫妇及众多高官在内的96人死亡,事发地点--卡廷森林让这出惨剧更显悲壮。1940年,苏联杀了约两万名波军战俘,卡廷森林是数千人丧命的地点之一。

同年47日,俄罗斯总理普京和波兰总理图克斯双双出席卡廷森林的祭奠活动,前者在祭奠死难者时单膝下跪,他们齐齐出现的情景被国际媒体视为关系好转的象征。两国的关系在空难后又起戏剧性的转折,俄方释放出的温暖外交言行,再加上俄罗斯各地的老百姓自发的以花海告慰这个若即若离的邻国死难者,皆被视为是两国关系加强的历史契机。而俄罗斯国家杜马、即议会下院在全年11月批准一项声明,承认原苏联领导人斯大林下令制造1940年卡廷事件。然而两国的关系在往后一年,依然因俄方的空难调查报告和卡廷事件的说法而偶起波浪。还好波兰内阁还是有很强力推动两国关系的推手,他们不被历史包袱左右,实事求是。俄罗斯是波兰的贸易伙伴国之一,上人民在学术、教育和商贸的频密往来,他们都不得不承认良好的关系只有好处,没有坏处。

对于加里宁格勒人来说,苏联还没有解体前,上有立陶宛,右边有白俄罗斯,南方是苏联卫星国的波兰,这些国家先后宣告独立,波兰和立陶宛在2004年还加入了欧盟。孤悬在波罗的海的加里宁格勒人,去一趟首都莫斯科还得因必须过境立陶宛和白俄罗斯而得申请两个签证。很长一段时间去波兰时是完全免签,它加入欧盟就得申请签证入境,加里宁格勒人也不例外。今年46日,俄罗斯媒体报道,欧盟委员会已着手探讨让加里宁格勒的居民,或居住3年至5年的外来居民,以特别的5年签证入境30公里以内的波兰领土。而费用只需20欧元。他们也将探讨,希望将这个领域囊括到波兰北方的三个城市,包括格但斯格、以及较小的奥尔什丁和埃尔布隆格,以促进两地人民的往来。

61日起,波兰将担任欧盟轮值主席国,总理图斯克在今年11日发言时说,他要求他的政府加倍工作,不能错失良机。波兰决心在担任主席国期间做出一番成就,以确立波兰在欧盟中的地位。波兰会否在那个位子拉近欧盟与俄罗斯的关系是两地观察家,尤其是加里宁格勒居民非常关注的事情。

今年的春季,在加里宁格勒的俄罗斯外交部已经举办两次集合外交人员的论坛。发表者是波兰驻加里宁格勒的总领事,波兰外交部东方事务部门的处长(外交部的Director这样翻译?),俄罗斯在加里宁格勒的外交最高代表,以及研究两国关系的学者。参与对话的还有私人和政府学术机构的代表,他们很多都热情洋溢的表述对未来的期盼,发问时往往像发表个人意见,不过气氛和谐、真诚。尤其是波兰外交部东方事务部门的处长以俄语发言时,他谦虚的担心自己有一段时间没来加林宁格勒,怕俄语说得不好,与会的大部分俄罗斯人给与他掌声的鼓励,表示支持。

三月份在加里宁格勒出版的俄语月刊“观点”在文章“欧盟的心脏将在华沙跳动”,总结第一次的会谈时表示,两地的与会者都不否认,两国一直缺乏互信,但大家一致认为既然共同生活在这片土地上,就必须加深对近邻的历史和现状的了解,否则两国未来的关系就更不好说了。在会议上讨论有关加深两个近邻关系的具体建议,以促进加里宁格勒和波兰边境地区两地人民的往来。这包括实践免签往来、探讨季节性开放波兰境内连接加里宁格勒的“ 波罗的沙嘴”(Baltic spit or Vistula spit)。这将有助于启动俄罗斯在该处的旅游消闲计划,目前波兰的内海湾已经具备渡轮和游艇设施。

加里宁格勒的波罗的经济与金融学院的库兹涅萨瓦表示,波兰的经济发展有目共睹,政治体制的成就也一样出色,由于各方面的条件,波兰在2009年的金融危机毫发无损。目前它在欧盟国家当中已经晋升为最安全和最舒服于居住的国家之一。而波兰坐上轮值主席国的一位,足可见欧盟对它的重视,以及其渐长的国际影响力。因此对波兰来说,这也是难能可贵的机会,利用这个机会将它和俄罗斯的关系在质量上提伸到新的高度。

据我了解,我的俄语老师和相识的加里宁格勒人在免签时代都常往波兰跑,去购物、旅游或滑雪。至今,很多俄罗斯人觉得他们在波兰完全没有被当成外人的感觉,因为同源的语言,在沟通上问题不大。对俄罗斯人来说,波兰物品价廉物美,种类繁多,俄罗斯的很多轻工业用品和服装都来自波兰,我也是受惠的消费者。而波兰人则到俄罗斯受惠于低廉的汽油价格。很多年长的波兰人都讲流利的俄语,一名住在华沙的波兰朋友每年夏天都开车跑遍俄罗斯不同区域的城市,犹如自己的家园一样没有隔阂。

我是新加坡人免签进入欧盟,到波兰是很简单的事。我的法国籍朋友从加里宁格勒,常常在周末开车往波兰、柏林或立陶宛跑,特地去波兰的“宜家”(IKEA)大采购,因为加里宁格勒没有宜家的分行。我去年到格但斯克的时候,早上吃麦当劳早餐,傍晚回去之前,连肯德基的炸鸡、薯条和薯泥也毫不放过。温文的波兰人有着斯拉夫人特有的敏感、友善和细腻,给我留下非常好的印象。今年初,麦当劳才进军加里宁格勒,不想出国却渴望吃肯德基的话,可以搭1个半小时的飞机去莫斯科或其他城市吃。当然我是说笑的。

友好、坚实、放下猜疑的俄,波两国关系是人心所向,大势所趋。一名网民如是评述,在欧洲国家当中,没有两个同根同源的国家像波、俄两国那么深的伤害过对方。建立“斯拉夫联盟”已经是天方夜谭,但是两个最庞大的斯拉夫国家能放下包袱,友好共存,建立巩固的双边关系是历史性的重责大任。

波兰对于旧日强大霸主的怨恨和猜疑,在过去是理所当然,两国时晴时雨,时爱时恨的关系似乎更强烈的表现在政治上,不过民间的两国人们一样舞照跳,歌照唱。眼前两国在对过去与现状进行度量和展望时,需要勇气去告别绊脚的历史包袱,需要睿智为广大的人民,提供便利和经济发展的机会,为斯拉夫族群的命运开启崭新、繁荣与和谐的局面。


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We remember Yuri Gagarin (Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин)




The famous smile of Gagarin. Pure, honest and joyous.


A cherished collection of postcard of my teacher in Kaliningrad, Irina Sergeevna.

An April day's journey to pay respect to Yuri Gagarin.


This tree was planteded by the twice awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, pilot-cosmonaut, Yuri Romanenko.
One of the three cosmonauts who used to live in Kaliningrad.




If you are studying Russian language, besides Chekhov or Tchaikovsky, you should also know about Yuri Gagarin. A few years ago, my teacher in Singapore Katya introduced me to him when we covered important dates in the Russian calendar. In the mindscape of Russian people, Gagarin is a giant, he forever will be. She spoke with amazement of Gagarin as if its a crime that I did not already know about him. I was too americanized in that sense, I only knew Neil Armstrong!

Yuri Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet-era pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human being to journey into outer space, when his "Vostok" spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961, which was exactly 50 years ago on this day.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honour. "Vostok" marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the "Soyuz" mission. Gagarin died in 1968 when a training jet he was piloting crashed.

On this day, people place flowers at the monument in Kaliningrad that commemorate the achievements of famous cosmonauts who used to live here. Young children paid tribute with flowers as a group with guidance from the teachers. On TV and newspapers were stories and programs devoted to him.

In the morning my teacher came and decided that we shall read about Gagarin. According to the Russian text, Gagarin was chosen into a group of 20 pilot-cosmonauts, who "were ordinary, not the best of the best" as the risk was too high. The common traits among them was that they were of small build. Gagarin's life was pretty ordinary before his flight to the outer space. USSR received news that USA was going to launch their space ship on the 20th of April, hence in the true spirit of competition, the Soviet authorities decided to launch "Vostok" a few days earlier. And Gagarin was the chosen one.

At that time, the Soviet painted three scenarios. Firstly, it was successful, secondly, the spacecraft loses connection and descends into the taiga forest or ocean, in that case USSR will enlist international assistance in the search of the cosmonaut. Lastly, they were prepared that he will die a tragic death. But the last two scenarios did not materialize. Gagarin flew back heroically and gained global fame. His life was changed forever.

With the instant glory, people wondered if he could overcome the weight of fame. Gaining fame in space, his life on earth became somewhat difficult. He received endless invitations from friends, from you-know-where and refusal would only put him in bad shape.

However, the ordinary, honest Gagarin did not move too far from his true self. Once he was driving in his "Volga" red car, a gift from the state. He met with an accident with an old pensioner on the road. With his celebrity status, the policeman was too excited to pass him a ticket and prepared to let him go. But Gagarin refused the offer and came back to the site and ''upheld justice".

After this incident, he knew he had to change and he did. He got back to work and prepared for another flight mission in space ship "Soyuz". However he died in a fatal training session, not an unusual mishap in training endeavours. The last sentence of the article was such: Destiny has it that, in the memory of humankind, he will forever remain young. (Судьба хотела, чтобы в памяти человечества он навсегда остался молодым )






Saturday, April 2, 2011

Give me the foxy look! (In love with Russian fur hat)


I was "styled'" by the helpful shop-owner of a fur-hat shop at the central market.

My personal collection, also my first, and surely not the last fur hat.


A user-friendly fur hat ordered online from China, I was told its faux rabbit fur.

I realize I look extremely happy and at home with fur hats.

If you are not convinced, my happiness is genuine and inexplicable. I could have been born with it.

My favourite so far, it costs 4600 roubles. (1 SGD gives you 22 roubles). No, I have not bought it yet!

The modest fur-hat shop in Kaliningrad. From the same shop, I bought for dad a fur cap from Turkey last year.

This is one from a friend's collection. Fox hair!
The shop owner strongly recommended this so called stylish fox-fur hat. But I beg to differ, even my face showed a tinge of steely resistance.

The lighting of the shop was specially adjusted to get a great picture of the pride of the shop! But I am sure I look freakish.

Well, this is ushanka - or ear-flap cap that we are looking for.
My mission of the day, to try on a fur-hat for my friend's wife in Italy. It is the 'in' thing for winter in Europe. We must buy it!

Today I had a mission. Boris needed to buy a fur hat for Elly. Fur hats are very popular in Italy, hence a pretty woman must possess one, especially one of genuine fox fur from Russia.
So my mission was to try on for Elly! I happily obliged! As told, I will send her the pictures for her to pick the one she like, or more than one that she wants!

The shop-owner was extremely friendly, he became a stylist and insisted that I tried on all he thought that would suit me.

I suddenly felt a revelation. I felt I should have been born in Russia at least once in my past life, or lives. I need to live in winter, especially Russian winter...

A bit about Russian fur hat. An ushanka is a Russian fur cap with ear flaps that can be tied up to the crown of the cap, or tied at the chin to protect the ears from the cold. In the English-speaking world, it is referred to as a shapka, from the Russian language word for "hat". Ushanka literally translates as "ear-flaps hat".

And I could tell you more stories about fur hats, but I need to rush for a dinner date!


Monday, March 28, 2011

A Day at the Dacha

The star of the day, a friend's daughter.


An empty dacha with empty space outside.

Typical Russian shashlik.
A happy group photo. A few minutes before we left the dacha as it was really too cold.
Cui-ting is pregnant, the baby will be due in 3 months' time.


Hot tea saved me!
Even young children are often pensive like adults. Real Russians they are.
Bilingual Armin also has a serious look, son of a capable Bangladeshi father and a chirpy Russian mother.
The main engineer of the trip, Joy on the left. I was as still as furniture in the spartan dacha.
Birch trees - the soul of Russian forest. I feel the urge to sing the song dedicated to them!
Keep me warm please!!
Indulging in chips and juice, our little one enjoys momentary freedom from her mother.
The two Chinese friends from North-eastern China.

A day at the dacha, or rather a day of suffering! It was still too cold to enjoy outdoor activities in April. But we went all the same with the great organizational skill of our new friend - Joy, a Russian-trained Bangladeshi engineer who works on big ships. He speaks perfect Russian and English. It was his ex-wife's dacha where we visited and had our first shashlik barbeque in Russia.

He did all the shopping of drinks and shashlik and came pick us up from our dorm. In his car was Aleona, a vivacious Russian woman who attempted to learn Chinese but gave up. In another car was Asad, the big brother of the Bangladeshi clan in our university. He has long graduated with his PhD and lives a great life here with his Russian wife and children. With him were his family and other friends. Two cars then zipped off to the barren dacha, where the third car also converged at the same time.

Hastily cleaned up the little hut, called dacha or villa, we placed the mobile table and chairs for minimal comfort. But actually that was where I planted myself half-a-day long to keep myself humanly warm. Joy and Jamil, my young Bangladesh brother did most of the work outside, ensuring the shashlik adequately cooked. It was not only good, it was heavenly delicious.

While we were getting used to the cold, Cui-ting remembered that her husband actually packed for her a thermal flask of pipping hot water, and wrapped up with a towel. We happily made tea with it. Model husband, we call it. I could only envy. And Cui-ting not once trumpeted that men from North-eastern China are of a rare breed, they make great husbands. Soon, we had to ration the hot water, when our Russian friends also find the weather a bit too unfriendly and need a cuppa!

Thanks to our friends, we had the first BBQ. However this is not my first trip to a Russian dacha. I have visited one in Moscow region with Alexandr and Lena, my friends in Moscow. It was a totally different sight. Lena's parents are the owners, they build the little paradise with bare hands over 20 years. I visited last summer, and due to the fiery hot weather at close to 40 degree celcius, we cut short our stay and also dropped the idea of spending the night there. Their dacha was full of fruits, flowers and vegetables. They even have a little pond with fish!

And a few months down the road, I experienced another sight of dacha which offers nothing but the space. And we too cut short the visit due to the weather. Hot vs cold, barren vs fullness, Russia is a land of contrasts and extremes, a haven of great experiences.

For the next trip to the dacha, I will make sure I will ONLY stay at home when the temperature is as low as 10 degree celcius!