Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Russian Mama - Galina

Wild nameless plant with little white round fruits plucked from Russian mama's garden, apples too, Russian mama is a real gem.

Almost every day other day, Russian mama will prepare something like this for me. Sometimes its Russian pancakes with honey, sometimes Russian meat dumplings. Full package with sachets of Instant coffee mix, yogurt, candies, biscuits, napkins and plastic fork and spoon. In the morning, she will also make sandwiches with ham and cheese.

Whimsically referred as the lady in a box, Galina works from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5pm, selling stationary and making photocopies for students in her tiny book kiosk located next to my classorom.

The silly toothy me and her Russian mama, who also like my best, real biological mama in Singapore wears purple all the time.

It all started when I started to look for Russian literature in her little book kiosk next to my classroom in the university. It was towards the end of last semester.

Her name is Galina. She sells mostly technical books for students here and promised that she will bring hers at home. She even asked me to name the books I need, and she woul bring whatever she has. Her children are all grown up and she doesn't want to keep these books idling in the bookshelves. Most importantly she said she herself had read all of the books at home, and she is very willing to part with it.

Unbelievable Russian kindness - she started to bring me books that I have always wanted, for instance Tolstoy's collection of letters, Chekhov's short stories, and even Nabokhov's Lolita. For those that I find too difficult to handle, I would normally give it back to her.

When there were no students queuing outside her kiosk, she would always be happy to talk to me about anything happening in her life. About her grandchildren, her children, her health and her life in general, besides her health, she does not complain about anything, only sharing happy moments. In the little drawer in the kiosk, she keeps a lot of food, always ready to share with me, sweets and biscuits...

She also decorate the corner with wild flowers that she plucks along the road or from her garden. And like a real, sentimental Russian, she would stand around to arrange the cut flowers slightly in the vase, and marveled it from near and from far, and looked back at me standing behind her, and said, I don't know about you but I really like them. And she said that flowers always make her day.

Sometimes she would bring some magazines she finished reading at home and read aloud to me while students are scarce. She said that she had good education and proud that her Russian language is very good, and I shall never fail to ask her for help. And she really taught me a lot. She speaks in a very fast and confident manner, and sometimes I did not understand entirely, it did not really matter to her. However sometimes I would stop her and she would say to me in a way that I could understand.

At the end of last academic year, I was not sure if I was coming back for another year. It all depended on the health of my parents. Hence I told Mama Galina that I might be leaving for good. She was rather upset.

A week before I left Russia , Mama Galina fell ill and did not come for work. I owed her 200 Roubles as she did not have small change when I bought some souvenirs from her kiosk earlier on. I passed it to her boss who helped to mend the kiosk then. Hence I did not say goodbye to her.

When I came back to Russia again for the new term in September, she was so emotional and happy, and kept saying that she was so afraid that she would never see me again, and kept saying, my little girl, I am so happy you are back.

When my new life started in the dormitory, fully equipped with micro-oven and kitchen, I decided to make her some Chinese food, all heated up in micro-oven before I sent to her after my lessons. The first time was rice and a stir-fried dish that I made the night before. I put them in separate boxes and tie up nicely with a ribbon, complete with a pair of chopsticks, spoon and fruits. She was speechless when she saw it, she said she had always wanted a pair of chopsticks. And she had never never tasted Chinese food.

From then onwards, she insisted that I should not buy breakfast from the snack counter downstairs, as she would make me sandwiches every day, and could boil tea at her kiosk, as she said why spend money when you can have it here? She also started to make me Russian food, like borscht soup, pancakes (that can last me the whole weekend for breakfast or tea-time) and braised fish. She would put them in boxes for me and add on with sweets, biscuits and yogurt, and instant coffeemix. When apples were in full bloom, she brought me apples every other day.

Although she insisted that I need not cook anything for her as a guest in Russia, but I have continuously since then, in every other day, brought her Chinese meals like braised or fried chicken with rice, or most often all kinds of fried rice and fried spagetti. And most surprisingly she even liked my curry chicken, which I have specially separated from the super hot version to suit her Russian taste. She often said that she always wanted to bring them home for dinner, but they are often too delicious to keep for that long.

When she knew that I also like flowers, she started to bring me flowers too. I was afraid that it would cause her inconveniences, but she said they are all blooming in the garden, why not let it bloom in our rooms? To convince me, she even drew a map and showed me how near is the bus-stop and garden to her home.

The next day I was surprised to get a huge bouquet of purple cammomile. So much that I had to share it among other friends living in the dormitory. She even fully supplied me with two beautiful vases. At least three 'households' benefited. I even cut some for the kitchen and our locked toilet, but the flowers were proven to be too beautiful and was stolen from the kitchen on the third day.

I am grateful to have such a Russian mama.

Screaming Syrian bullying Singaporean

Curly-greasy-haired screaming Syrian.

While my days in the Russian dormitory have gained dignity by locking the female toilet and sharing with only two other normal, flushing-abled individuals from China and Russia, it appeared that my happiness was too short-lived.

My neighbor from Syria, who formerly studied here and run a few restaurants in the city centre, came back. As usual, they had a couple of female friends in their hedonistic existence of music and drinks and what-not in their rooms. Recently they have been so-called sacked by the dorm as some guys here complained that they made shashliks in the washing area, leaving egg shells, unwashed blending machine and dishes in the room. Even the cleaning lady found them unbearable and rude. So officially they shouldn't appear in the dorm.

To his dismay, he discovered that the female toilet was locked. He observed and realised that a Russian from the same floor came to use the toilet and followed by me. However, he was a total coward and dared not ask the Russian, but he raised his voice at me and asked who gave me the right to lock the toilet. He ordered me to open the door.

There were five rooms between mine and the toilet. I simply answered, it is for residents here to use, no one else has the right to use. He went berserk and started screaming at me and said, tell me if you have guest, you will not let her use the toilet. I replied, now already in anger, it is none of your business. Again he ordered me to open the door now. To me, it was like a dog barking at me, I was trying to get back to my room but he temporarily stood in front of me. Screaming still went on. He said he will try his own way to open the door and barge in. While I finally got closer to my room, I told him to ask the Dean if he wants, as he allowed me to lock the toilet. By now, his Arabic blood has reached boiling point, I believe he was not used to women talking back at  him. He said that I must have bribed the Dean and said things that I couldn't fully understand. He spouted many vulgar words and slammed the door.

Screaming Syrian, he is someone who makes other Syrians even feel ashamed of him.

His Syrian friend stood next to me, did nothing but smiled sheepishly, visibly embarrassed by his unruly and primitive behaviour. The few Syrians who live here are friendly, polite and intelligent, some of them are incredibly good-looking.

I was brave enough to raise my voice too, but I was also shaken after the door was closed behind me. Why bother to even speak to such a coward who dared not challenge the Chinese and Russian who live with boyfriend and husband in the dorm respectively. Total coward. But at that moment, how could I stood still to listen to his barking? As a single woman, am I supposed to be bullied verbally like this? Is this Russia which allow this?

My heart was beating all night, I was physically affected but rationally in my mind, I was not. I did everything right to protect the women here from female visitors who are not even capable of flushing the toilet. I expected some unpleasantness but not such outburst of anger. Earlier on before they were chased out by the university, his elder brother has been sarcastic, saying aloud to me along the corridor every time he saw me, well done lady, lock the toilet but I simply ignored.

Simply put, I feel my life disturbed and was rather upset. I called my teacher immediately in order to contact the Dean but to no avail. However I sent him an email to describe what happened. I have not heard any reply.

What happened the next few days was interesting. The next day my headmaster, a motherly figure came to my classroom and asked me if I could perform for the university's 80 anniversary. I told her that I feel very privileged but I was not in a condition to sing at all after that has happened. Upon hearing it she was sympathetic and taught me how to bring it up to the authorities.

The next day, I spoke to my former Russian landlord Boris who is rather into martial arts. Among his friends whom I met are either fellow classmates or martial arts coaches. He was very mad upon hearing it and said he would come down to my dorm immediately and beat him up, if not warn him. I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction but I told him I don't like violence, let the university settle it, I am sure they will tell him off. I promised that if I do hear anything nasty from him, I will not tell anybody, I will just call the police and said that a single woman from Singapore is under threat and harassed by a scum. I can say that in crisp clear Russian by now. In his Syrian world, maybe he could shout at women and get away with it but I don't think Russia is proud to have a resident like that.

The screaming creature is still lurking in the dorm after what happened. But he has so far remained silent. Good for him.

But who will protect me in the future in Russia? The system? The conscience of onlookers or still my good old self?

And most delightful out of this, I managed everything speaking in Russian. Disturbed, yes, but it is worth the while, rather than siting in my former comfortable three-room flat all alone.

Despite my almost sleepless night, I still love Russia all the same. Don't forget it was a Syrian who was screaming. Maybe one day, a Russian with an inherent sense of justice will really need to beat him up. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Victory Day in Kaliningrad

Victory Square of Kaliningrad.

Beautiful Victory Park.
Victory Park in Kaliningrad.

I wrote an article about Victory Day of Kaliningrad in Chinese. It was published in Lianhe Zaobao. I have yet to translate it into English, however my university asked me to give a short introduction of what it was all about. I wrote it in Russian, the Chinese version is attached below.

Я приехала из одной из самых маленьких стран на свете. И Россия, безусловно, самая большая стране в мире, какая большая разница, она всегда меня приятно поражает.

Был 9 мая,2010.

Впервые, когда я пoсмoтрела как русские oтмечали День Пoбеды, я была глубoкo трoнута. Пoмню, чтo пoсле этoгo, я никуда не пoшла. Как будтo, я смoгла быстрo забыть всё, чтo я пoчувствoвала, и я сразу убежала в квартиру, чтoбы всё написать читателям Сингапура. Через час-два мoя статья o Дне Пoбеды была пoслана в редакцию “Лиэнхе Заoбаo”. Нo из-за бoльшoй oчереди в редакции, oна была напечатана только в 10 июне. Заголовок статьи – Не забывайте, надо благодарить, как русские отмечали 65-летий День Победы.

“Лиэнхе Заoбаo” или Lianhe Zaobao (газета на китайском языке), одна из двух самых крупных газет в Сингапуре, и её ежедневный тираж– oкoлo 200,000. У нас ещё The Straits Times (газета на английском языке) в Сингапуре. “Лиэнхе Заoбаo” также ширoкo распространена в Азии пo интернету. Газета прoдаётся в Югooстoчнoй Азии, Китае, Гoнкoнге, и подписчики включая Организации Объединённых Наций, ООН. Я раньше работала журналистом в “Лиэнхе Заoбаo” 9 лет. Учась в Рoссии, я пишу статьи для бывшей газеты кoгда хочу.

В статье, я сначала рассказала чтo прoизoшлo на параде на Плoщади Пoбеды и в Парке Пoбеды. Парад здесь в первый раз начался одновременно с парадом в Москве. Я пришла на Плoщади Пoбеды за получас ранее, чтoбы занять хoрoшoе местo наблюдать парад. Стoяли на углу перед нашим университетoм с мoей пoдругoй из Китая, Гу Ли-Я, у нас был прекрасный вид. Нарoд скoрo сoбирался пo дoрoге, и позанимали лучшие места. Толпа стала большая, и скоро я почти не смогла двигаться среди них. Я наблюдала поведение русских в такой тесной толпе. И я рада заметить, что они были культурны и внимательны к другим. Конечно, что я услышала два- один человека ругаются, но большинство народу весело смотрело парад.

Я с особым интересом описывала в статье как дети в России были воспитаны, и как родители при этом самом важном празднике учат своих детей относятся к ветеранам – сами дарить им цветы и их благодарить. Это жест был прост, но очень важен. 0ни с детства уже узнали самое значительное событие в истории России. С каждым годом, такой исторический урок подавали детям без слов.

В тот день много детей стояли передо мной. Взрослые автоматически пропускали их стоять в переднюю часть, несмотря что некоторые пришли попозже. Дети все-таки, как правила, имеют привилегию! Все дети держали букеты цветов в руках, какой красивы вид! Может быть они ещё маленькие, и мало знают значение праздники, но я уверена, они никогда не этого забудут.

С подробностью, я написала об одной маме, которая несла девочку на руках. Когда она кричала, мать терпеливо утешала её, и пустила её в первый ряд. Иногда, девочка стала неспокойной, она сидела на плечах мамы. Такая маленькая хорошенька, даже не могла твёрдо стоять, но уже участвовала на параде! И я удивилась, что эта молодая мать так хотела показать своей дочери, что происходило в этот день.

Полагаю, все русские воспитаны таким образом. Надеюсь, они не потеряют эту хорошую традицию. Вспоминания о второй мировой войне напоминало русских о своем прошлом и своей общей судьбе, но самое главное – помогать объединять людей и содействовать их управлять страной в будущем.

В статье, я немножко написала об истории Калининграда, так как, Сингапурцы вообще-то мало знают о России, тем более не слышали о Калининграде. Среди моих знакомых, только те, кто занят в международном бизнесе, услышали о Калининграде и его портах.

Я тоже написала, что КГТУ каждый год отмечает День Победы с ветеранами и иностранными студентами и устраивали прекрасную вечеринку. Это праздник очень важный для нас, чтобы встречаться с ветеранами и узнать больше о самом важном эпизоде в истории России. В России День Победы (День Воинской Славы России)- самый почитаемый праздник для россиянина, наряду с Новым годом и личным Днем рождения.

Несмотря на то, что у каждой страны есть различные праздники и свои традиции, но я думала, как моя страна может учиться у России. Наш самый важный праздник- Национальный День. В 9 августе 1965 году, Сингапур провозгласил независимость. Каждый год мы щедро тратимся на парад, на фейерверк и дорогие наряды. 0рганизатор даже старался собирать много праздничных подарков, и это уже стала одной из многих причин, что люди так хотели достать билет на парад.

Да, такой прекрасный вид, чтобы очень легко вызвать чувства гордости. Но это чувствует себя адекватным в объединении нас в сердцах и мнении? Я советую своей стране, пусть организационный комитет отойдёт на задний план, отдыхает, и не стоит искать подарки, не нужен фейерверк, не нужно продумывать, как справедливо раздавать билеты. Давай устраивать парад без этих трудов, люди могут поближе встречаться, поздороваться, и благодариться. Может быть, кроме мимолетного чувства гордости, мы будем узнать восторг среди нас сами, и глубже ощущаем нашу единственную судьбу.


- - 俄罗斯人庆祝击溃法西斯主义65周年纪念


春天姗姗来迟,美丽郁金香和黄色小野花遍布俄罗斯的加里宁格勒 (Kaliningrad)因打败法西斯主义而牺牲2700万人 的前苏联,今天的俄罗斯,59庆祝65周年胜利日 (Victory Day)

为了和首都莫斯科的空前盛大检阅仪式同步进行(莫斯科10点,加里宁格勒9点), 位于俄罗斯领土最西边的飞地Exclave —— 加里宁格勒,一有很多人自动自发到市中心聚集。父母让年幼的孩子往前站,幼 小的手掌挥舞着国旗和鲜花,准备检阅仪式过后到英雄纪念碑向苏军烈士敬礼,以及向年迈的前战士献花

年轻的父亲也把小孩子骑在自己的肩膀上,耐心等待我们面前 经过的制服团体坐在军车的年迈老兵和装甲部队,高声向他们欢呼和鼓掌。一些受欢迎的队伍,例如美丽女兵和帅气的海军还得到众人的欢呼,随着们的步伐大声鼓掌和给鼓励。 坦克排放的废气把空气搞得一团乱,大家一边幽幽埋怨,笑说怎么像打仗一样,一边还是高声欢呼

城市内的少数外籍人士,如我们这些学生都拿起国旗或气球和俄罗斯人一起庆祝。一个小时的检阅结束后,封锁的街道没有车辆,到处是雀跃的人群,几乎每人 都拿着鲜花,要亲手交给步履缓慢的老兵。我看到年轻的女子向不认识的老兵说谢谢和以及一连串祝福他的话语,然后恭恭敬敬的到他们身边拍照留念。


永恒之火距离市中心的胜利广场不远,设立在另一广场内。永恒之火最早先出现在莫斯科红场无名烈士的墓前,它长久跃动不熄,可说是俄罗斯人心中的圣广场中间有一个高高耸立的四面纪念碑,公众在那里放满了鲜花。现场广播的悦耳战争俄语歌 我和朋友还跟着一起







俄罗斯庆祝的胜利日是庆祝“伟大卫国战争”(Great Patriotic War),指的是对抗德国法西斯主义的胜利。战争发生于1941622日到194559日。对其他国家来说,我们称之为第二次世界大战,可是在俄罗斯和一些从前苏联分出来的独立主权国如乌克兰等国则称为伟大卫国战争

二战的胜利不只是苏联的胜利,也是现代史上战胜邪恶势力的重要里程碑,对俄罗斯人来说是它是一场正义之战令人心惊动魄的战役包括莫斯科保卫战、列宁格勒保卫战、斯大林格勒保卫战、库尔斯克大会战。2700牺牲的人当中很多是平民百姓, 是相等于多少个新加坡的人口?到底二战死了多少人,据说50007000万人,若取低的数字,每两个死亡的人当中,有一个是前苏联的人。





然而,历史的吊诡是加里宁格勒在二战前其实是属于敌方德国的领土。面向波罗的海的加里宁格勒州独立于俄罗斯领土,夹在波兰和立陶宛之间,坐火车去“大俄罗斯 ”还得经过白俄罗斯和立陶宛。

这个人口不到100万的海港城市,在二战前原来是德国前东普鲁士地区首府,称为哥尼斯堡 (Koenisberg)。哥尼斯堡是德国著名哲学家康德的出生地,死后也安葬在这里。

1945年,德国战败根据波茨坦会议的决定将哥尼斯堡连同东普鲁士一部分地区割让给前苏联,第二年为纪念刚逝世的苏联共产党人米哈伊尔·加里宁,将该区改名为加里宁格勒 很多人也从那个时候从俄罗斯移居到这里,目前这里以俄罗斯人占大多数。