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Why Is Wednesday a “Rain Day”?

The Japanese have a complex writing system. In addition to two alphabets, they also make ample use of Chinese hieroglyphs. But, if learning Chinese writing is difficult in itself, it becomes twice as difficult in the Japanese language, because each symbol has two “names”, a native Japanese name and a borrowed Chinese name.

Sounds crazy, I know. The native names are normally used for simple words made up of just one symbol. For example, 日  – means “the sun”, “sunlight”, or “day”. It’s pronounced as “hi” (just like the English word “he”). However, when this word is used with other characters , the Japanese pronounce it in a Chinese way – “ni” or “nichi”.

For example, 日曜日 (nichi-yo–bi) is Sunday in Japanese.

日本 (ni-hon) mean Japan.

In an overwhelming number of instances, I prefer Japanese “names” to their borrowed Chinese counterparts. For example, I really love the word 人”hito”, which means “person”, “people” or “human”. But I don’t really like “jin”, which is its borrowed Chinese cousin. The “jin” variant is used in compound words such as 外人 “gai-jin”, “foreigner.”

Wednesday, the “water day”

In Japanese, each day of week has its own symbol. For Sunday, it is the sun (日), as I said earlier. For Monday, it’s the moon (月) and Monday is 月曜日 (getsu-yo–bi) – the Moon Day.

But my favorite day is Wednesday.

The symbol which is used in this day of the week is this one – 水 – and it means water. The Chinese “name” of the symbol is “sui”, and Wednesday is “sui-yo–bi” (水曜日). This hieroglyph is the only exception for me, because it’s the only one for which I prefer the Chinese pronunciation over the Japanese version. The Japanese name for water is “mizu” (miso soup, anyone?)

The state of Missouri

Which brings me to an interesting discovery I made today. The American state of Missouri (and the Mississippi River) have Native American names. They say that indigenous tribes of America crossed Alaska in some really distant past, and that was how they got to this part of the world.

Before Alaska, they travelled from Altai through Siberia. If you look at the outfits, the facial features, and the traditions of Altai tribes, they do look a bit like Native Americans.

Left – a man from Altai, right – a Native American man

Come to think of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, which is in the very North of Japan. It’s quite different from the rest of the country, and they say its people are related to the tribes of Altai. There are some linguistic similarities between them, too.

Also, because Japan is so diverse (you can sense the Chinese influence in Central Japan and the South-most island of Okinawa looks like Hawaii or Tahiti to me), linguists can’t decide where to place the language. Some claim it’s related to Korean, others say it’s close to the Altai languages, while there’s a group that favors its likeness to Polynesia / Oceania tongues.

Still, the question remains…

So, I wonder if Missouri and Mississippi are called this way, because “mizu” (misu) means “water” in Japanese. I still don’t know why Wednesday is a rain day, but I’m pretty determined to find out.

:p

Pain Eater’s Girlfriend: The Prologue

Aenuee stood guard to the portals and times when he noticed an algorithm by the name of Fralandin idly making his way through the stars.

The guard sensed two conflicting tendencies in the algorithm that were mutually exclusive. On the one hand, Fralandin was oozing energy, ready to plunge into action at any moment. On the other hand, since he had completed the previous task too early, he reasoned – why not snooze around space for a little longer. And so he advanced, taking two steps forward, and one step backward. Until the cybernetic inertia and his craving of action brought him to the gates of Aenuee.

“Hey, Fralandin, lazy bones. Why don’t you make yourself useful?” asked the guard without saying a single word.

” Who is lazy bones? I assume you realize that I came to you at my own will, and you didn’t have to summon me. Swoosh-swoosh”, the energies inside Fralandin accelerated the way a person who wants to go to the bathroom becomes really desperate upon crossing the threshold of their apartment. Aenuee realized he’d better give Fralandin a task as soon as possible before he’s torn apart by the swirling of frequencies in him.

“All right, buddy. Can you see that vacuum, #PAX174? The Pain Eaters over there have too much on their plate, they are barely making it. It’s an interesting place, I bet you will love it. It’s relatively young and is in the process of transitioning to another level. So, we’ve been noticing many anomalies. Can you help them out? Can you see what’s going on over there?!”

All the energies inside Fralandin started to move at an accelerated pace. He was spilling fountains of energy all over the Nearport. And, once the acceleration had reached its climax and his focus on portal #PAX174 had become absolute, like an arrow, Fralandin’s essence darted in the gate’s swirling spirals.

And he vanished out of Aenuee’s sight completely.

Yours, Daniel Rayner – Upcoming Novel

Hello, hello…

Well, although, in my previous post, I promised not to write anymore, you should realize that that was the uncut version, and one that I wanted to post when I was fully resolved to quit blogging. 😉

Which is no longer the case.

Ukrainian artist Tatyana Glebova did this amazing illustration (above) for my upcoming novel, “Yours, Daniel Rayner”

The novel is based on various dreams that I’ve had in the past few years. Even the main character of the novel, Daniel, is a person from one of my dreams.

There’s a Russian-language short variant available online. I really want to translate it into English, hopefully in a few weeks’ time.


Besides, there’s another work I have in mind. It’s called “Pain-Eater’s Girlfriend”.

The story is as follows.

The story is set in New Jersey. Alison Page is an ordinary schoolgirl who is prone to unexplainable fits of depression.

One day, a bike accident makes her cross paths with Takeshi Yokimura, the most mysterious boy in their school. Takeshi used to be bullied a lot because if his extraordinary intellect. But after four boys beat him up and get into a horrible car accident immediately after that, everyone begins to be frightened of Takeshi and he doesn’t have any friends.

After Takeshi helps Alison in the bike accident, he acts as if he is her boyfriend. Little by little, Alison realizes that Takeshi is not only a freak, but also is not even human. He’s part of the pain processing algorithm that got incarnated on Earth in order to solve tricky causes of psychic pain. He’s after Alison because of her inexplicable depression attacks.


So, which one do you think I should complete first? 😉

The New Age – What It Really Is (uncut edition)

[This is the uncut edition of the stream-of-consciousness piece which I wrote this spring and never published – until now. So, it probably contains typos and some gibberish writing. Please have patience with me]

OK guys, I think this will be my last post on this blog. After you read it, ~I’m sure you will understand why.

It is not science fiction, it is not an extracted memory. It’s something I’m going through right now, and something that’s all around me at the moment.

The new age is upon us, folks. This spring much more than ever, much stronger than ever, I can sense that.

The great night that has lasted for thousands of years is coming to an end.

There is the old world that’s being smitten away by the new paradigm. It’s not an over-night happening, but , with each passing day, the trend will be increasing.

What does it mean exactly? The consciousness is waking up. New “programs”, new ?code” for humanity is being fed into all aspects of our physical and etheric world.

This spring has been difficult for me. Allergies, breakouts, back pain. That’s because I was born in the 80’s and in many ways I do not comply… With the new energy.

It’s a big cleanup, that’s what’s happening right now. The last chance to enact old scenarios. At some point they will begin o look ridiculous. Is there work to be done? Yes and no. For those who want to feel comfortable with and be well in the new energies, they need to tune in.

Those who are still trying to break the old system – please quit trying so hard. It will soon be destroyed by the very hand of Time, by the Current. 🙂

“Oh, how harsh of you!”

Look, as humanity , we are one. Please read the Egg. It’s most enlightening.

We are one living body, we are all cells-neurons-atoms or whatever it is of one begin. Call it Purusha, Vishnu, And, whatever it is. It’s that oneness and totality that we are.

Yet we each have individual, unique consciousness.

And, surprisingly, the new age is about actualizing the individual in each of us.

And how do you do that when 90% of people are not thinking their own thoughts? They borrow their thoughts from TV, from pop culture icons, from spiritual gurus.

But they truth has showed up in person this time. It’s ripe within you and ready to be picked. Are you paying attention, my fellow human?

Or are you int he old scenarios that were part of the Dark Age? Be careful, for those constructs are being destroyed as we speak, and if you’re heavily invested in them, you may go away with them.

In part, I don’t even care if I go away. Maybe my mind, body and soul are too screwed towards the old patterns. They may well turn out to be out of tune with the new programs, but.. who cares.

I have no doubt about my eternal soul. And no doubt about the eternal soul of any human being.

Sure, there are deadly sins that may corrupt it, I don’t know to which extent. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

The new world is upon us. It is beautiful. We all are going to benefit from it. But some people are still clinging to the old templates. It does not matter how old you are, even if you are 90 or 100 years old. You can still tune in. To the new song,

Because if you don’t, with each day it will be increasingly difficult for you to live in the world.

Also, birds of feather flock together. There is a reason why people who are in tune with the coming change shy away from the old constructs. Btw, by “old” I mean something like 4-6 thousand years old…

Thing is, you can’t be both – dead and alive , you have to choose. If you succumb to the frequencies of the old society, such as spite, fear, pain, divided vision, viewing others as inferiors, and so on and so forth .. then you fall out of tune with the new feelings of peace, acceptance, compassion, joy, optimism, and other beautiful feelings.

Therefore, make up your mind. If you think what I have written is new-age fluff and childish optimism, you have already picked your side. It’s your choice, not mine. But it doesn’t have to stay this way.

Old world: greed – people want to own THINGs, separation – disparate groups of people each have a mass-mind energy construct of their own, to which they contribute and off which they “feed”; mass action – few sources of information that determine what people think, which results in millions of people processing very similar thoughts, kind of like radio stations playing the same tune.

Just go to Twitter, enter any politically hot hashtag, and you will see millions of tweets that may have different wording, but they look like they’ve been produced with a ~Xerox machine.

Fear – it’s a historically determined reaction to many things in life, because in the past many things had gone wrong. Dull, bleak colors – on images, book covers, apartments, in cafes. Language full of destructive, negatively-charged words – but they don’t even notice it.

Mind – full of obscure mysticism – that’s why we still have religion. People were insusceptible to truth and could not observe it directly, therefore we need religion during the Great Night . And Saints to lead the humanity through.

New world: generosity – yeah, baby, I’m spending big on Uber and AIrBnB, for it’s my fellow humans getting the moneys. I keep the resources flowing. $$$ is the blood of the economy, I do not accumulate. I don’t wish to “own” things. I can use them as long as I’m living my life, and part with them lightly when I move on.

Individuality – I’m trying to make sure my thoughts are the reflection of my inner world, of the eternal should that’s speaking within me. To be able to hear it’s voice, I turn off the TV, I turn off the radio, I mute the people who come screaming at it someone else’s political agenda. And I listen.. And I can hear myself.. And I say it or write it down. Heck, maybe I even make music of it, I don’t know.

Peace – I trust life, and believe anything is possible and that I’m gonna make it with the right attitude.

Light, happy colors – light furniture, big glass windows – let the light in!

Language – I’m paying close attention to what I say and how I say it. “Names have power” – Neil Gaiman. I don’t apply swear words or offensive words to any human being, even those deemed “villains”. How can you stay Christian and bad-mouth another human being. Are you not to forgive everyone? Then you’re only partly ~Christian.

Intelligence – it’s not only the intellect. It’s just knowing the truth internally, without anyone telling you. Having direct contact with and access to the divine. Like I said, the Truth has now showed up in person! Open your eyes and see!

P.S. Change does not always look nice, its appearance may be ugly. But do judge it by the fruit.

Series B: The Invisible Pipeline

Dear reader, with Series B, I begin a conceptually new cycle of short stories. I hope you like them. Thank you. 

***

Leada was a happy child, for her life was a slew of one joyful experience after another.

It was the time of year when the girls did a space project with Teacher. This year, each student was to create a spacefly (with her mind, using the generator of nano particles), equip it with the necessary instincts and fly it all the way to Mars.

It was exciting to watch your spacefly appear from the generator and keep your fingers crossed while it was en route to Mars, hoping you had programmed it correctly to avoid obstacles. If anyone’s spacefly committed a mistake, the computer produced a report with possible oversights. Sometimes, reasons stated were “unknown obstacle”, “undetectable factor” or others you couldn’t improve on.

One morning the students were headed for the laboratory – and what a beautiful morning it was! All adults in the research center were giving the girls delighted looks. Leada was born into a generation where kids were admired and considered somewhat superior to adults.

Just before that, a cultural revolution took place: adults admitted they had been steering progress in the wrong direction, and only a fresh perception could save the world. People started listening to kids more, trying to draw innovative ideas from them.

The new course lead to a rapid influx of scientific discoveries and new social projects. Leada was born when projects either proposed, or merely fantasized, by kids were beginning to bring fruit, and hopes were high among adults that kids could be the key.

It was indeed a great time to be a kid, because everybody viewed you as a hero. Leada loved the admiration and respect she felt coming from adults. She had already taken her course in Enhanced Empathy – a class that teaches you to perceive emotions of people within minimal distance from you. After you take the class, life becomes more exciting for you.

Leada noted, with joy, that she was paying adults her share of respect by doing her best, acting her best and looking her best. The girls and she had on their beautiful silver costumes with green emblems of the Galactic Research Center attached in 3 places: on the front and on both sleeves.

After the day’s practice, the girls retired to their dormitory. In the evening, they usually had a night out in the woods. They would make a fire and stargaze. Stargazing was another benefit of being on the space project. Leada loved it.

 ***

On one of those nights, Leada was sitting by the fire, watching Venus, wondering if she would ever cease to admire the planet.

Suddenly, she saw a shiny object fly across the sky, and it took Leada some time to realize it was moving unlike any space body she knew. The object seemed to have a consciousness of its own, because it was moving forward, then backwards and then to the side. Such free choice of trajectory intrigued Leada. All of a sudden, the bright obejct launched swiftly and flew straight into the woods. Leada gasped.

The girls turned to her. It seemed no one had been watching. “Did you see that?” asked Leada. The girls shook their heads, and Mara, the eldest of the girls, asked “See what?”

“Some  shiny thing just fell from the sky”, Leada pointed in the direction of the woods. “I wanna go and see what happened to it. Do you wanna come with me?”

The girls shook their heads. It was so warm and comfy by the fire.  “OK, please someone wait for me here”, said Leada and she walked towards the woods.

Right after she lost sight of her girlfriends and the campfire, she felt uncomfortable. Being alone, in the woods… An unknown ancient instinct came over her.

Leada had been walking for about 5 minutes when she saw another extraordinary thing. A shiny shape that looked like a human or an upright-walking animal appeared in the distance and disappeared behind the trees.

Leada shook her head and wondered if she was seeing things. Then suddenly the forest felt comfortable. As if some untraceable presence wanted Leada to relax.

Leada’s head and feet were beginning to get heavy . But then, wow… She clearly saw the same shiny shape even further away this time, and it was approaching her.

Leada could not believe her eyes. The creature looked like a fairy from the drawings of the famous fairy hunter, Ronis Selascu. Thing is, fairies almost never make direct contact with humans. They did appear to Ronis, because he spent 25 years trying to prove fairies had a language, which turned out to be a sign and metaphor language after all.

Leada was afraid to move or breathe. But she knew she had to be careful. From what she had read, fairies were not as sweet-tempered as believed previously. But neither were they mean.

Vessels to vector-free natural energy, fairies were like weather, storms and earthquakes. And like weather, they could do great good or great damage to you.

When the fairy was close enough, Leada saw that It was only semi-solid. Its body was quivering like a reflection of light on water.

The fairy had no distinct facial features, but It had a large head with bellflower-like things sticking out from the top. It also had rather big elvish ears. The rest of its shape was more abstract.

A rustling and jingling sound accompanied the fairy as It moved through the woods. When It got really close to the girl (and Leada was sure they fairy must have seen her by then), It started to slow down until it came to a full halt. The fairy was just standing there, quivering, and Leada could hear barely audible jingles.

Leada did not know what to do.

Eventually, after just standing there for 15 seconds, the fairy moved in the opposite direction. Leada followed the fairy on instinct, keeping some distance, until they both arrived to an open space at the edge of a hill.

There were several water streams running down the hill. They met at the foot of the slope and formed one stream that looked like a little river.

The fairy got to the edge of the hill and swirled on the spot, losing volume and increasing Its brightness, until It became a star-like bright shiny object again.  It then shot back into the air and flew across the sky like the UFO Leada followed initially.

 ***

As the soft jingling echo from the fairy filled the air, Leada got in incoming telepathic contact. Who could it be at this time? She projected the caller’s presentation card against the night sky, and saw it was a boy about her age.

She did not know the boy! This made her very curious, because she knew it was really difficult to telepathically contact someone you haven’t met in person. You’d have to be a genius to do that.

Leada picked up. The boy said:

 – Hello Leada, you don’t know me. My name is Shanzen.

Leada could sense that the boy’s frequency kept changing as he spoke. This was very unusual. It was a miracle he was able to keep the connection up and running. Leada started to have huge respect for the boy. Because they were in a telepathic contact, Shanzen could sense her confusion. He said:

 – I don’t want my frequency to be detected, because I’m being watched.. most of the time.

 – Why would anyone be watching you? Leada asked in amazement.

 – You will understand soon. There is something I want you to learn about the world you live in, Leada. There is something you don’t know about its recent history.

Leada could not detect any trace of modified truth in what he said, so she listened on. Shanzen sent her a zipped memory that felt really low-frequency, like her grandma’s memory from the sad terrible world that ended before Leada was born.

 – I’ve done my best to include just the facts, said Shanzen.

She accepted the memory and hesitated a bit before unzipping it. Eventually she did. And what she saw shocked her.

The Great Division. The world government decides there’s not enough resources to provide a high-tech lifestyle for everyone. So, they select a large group of people, about 10% of the population. The rest would provide for the 10%.

Leada saw that wonderful Item Factories where everything was produced by sheer psychic energy, according to mental blueprints… were powered from another world.

There is the invisible pipeline… Kids about Leada’s age live in poor conditions. They go to work every day. No time for research, discovering things or anything else.

To make a living, they’re forced to contribute their mind power to the central power plant. They are like modern-day Duncan Camerons, people in psychic chairs, who power the production of things in Leada’s world. For Leada world-people would never have time or resources for that.

-This can’t be!

 ***

-Good morning, Mr. Oldroy, the house echoed.

The morning was good and gorgeous indeed. Gizem walked out onto the white marble balcony and glanced over at the bright blue sea.

One never gets tired of searching for the ever-elusive “sea color”.

He got an incoming call from Kedler. Obviously, the latter knew he was awake. Gizem thought he missed the days when telepathy was reserved for the select few.

Margaritas ante porcos.

-Hello Kedler, what’s up?

-Mr. Oldroy, the delegation from the city of Haey, Alceon, Dimension Beta6 are requesting a meeting on Thursday.

-Tell them I can meet with them at 15:15.

-Will do. Over.

-Over.

Gizem had a thing for numbers. 15:00 to 16:00 every day was his favorite time to take care of things. That was when he was feeling most relaxed. As were most people to his observation.

Suddenly, Gizem felt that Leada had entered the house. Something was wrong. He could feel unusual rage in her, and scanned her emotional field for other clues. There were none. Just pure rage.

The girl in the silver GRS jacket ran up the staircase and pushed wide open the doors of Gizem’s study.

-Father, we need to talk!

Only then Gizem could get her thought, something that was on the top of her mind. He groaned. Leada had learned the truth.

 ***

 

I started writing this about a year ago. Any resemblance to persons or situations living or dead is purely coincidental.

7 Greatest Contemporary Instrumental Music Composers

In no particular oder… Enjoy!

Philip Wesley

The new Rimsky-Korsakov.

A.R. Rahman

I am happy his star has risen, as it should have.

Hans Zimmer

Can’t say I like all pieces by Hans Zimmer, but this one is moving.

Deuter

This “Memories of an Angel” piece is so touching; I try not to listen to it too much.

Shiv Kumar Sharma 

Although his “Water” piece is better known internationally

Jeffrey Thompson

They say he co-wrote his first album with the aliens

Philip Glass 

I feel there is certain deliberate element to his music, but nevertheless he’s rather good.

Extracted Memory #3: Flight with Peter Pan

peter-pan

It was almost twilight when Dad and I caught a glimpse of the village in the distance. Having travelled over 2,000 miles – first by train, then by bus and then on foot – we were finally approaching our destination. I was to meet my Dad’s side of the family for the first time.

Suddenly everything became pink – the sky, the grass and even the bushes – saturated with the warm rays of the setting sun. We were living in the North at that time, almost on the border with Finland. That’s why Ukrainian country-side impressed me so much: there was plenty of tall grass, thick bushes and butterflies flying around. I felt like an Eskimo in Africa.

When we approached the house, from the back side of it, my heart started beating very fast. Was I scared, excited, anxious about the unknown? My Dad lifted the log on the purely metaphorical fence that was separating my Grandma house from the no-man’s land, and we got in.

We scurried along a densely vegetated garden. I noticed strawberries, corn and sunflowers and lots of other things I had seen only in pictures. Then we ducked behind a massive wooden back door and got inside the house.

That was the first time I saw Peter Pan. He was standing by the open fire, looking straight at it, his arms outstretched boldly in front of him. He has the kind of demeanour that suggested he was born to rule and give orders.

Suddenly, he turned to me and looked me straight in the eye. Little fires dances in his eyes the color of clear morning sky. He moved his snub nose from side to side and said to me in a lively and loud voice; “Hey, come here, quick”.

“Look”, he told me nodding in the direction of the fire. “Your hands will become hot if you stand like this for a while”, and he touched my nose with his palm which was indeed rather hot.

Not really knowing what to say to this (I was 4 back then, while Peter Pan was almost 8), I gave him my best shot:”We’ve brought you guys a tabool soccer”, just to show I also had a surprise for Peter Pan.

“Oh really?” and he rushed to look at the game. That very moment, my 2 cousins (uncle Misha’s daughters) walked in. They knew we had arrived, and they wanted to see us. Suddenly, everyone was more interested in the board game than in our arrival.

***

The next day Peter Pan was teaching me Ukrainian. Although they spoke this mixed version in the village,  some words were completely different from their Russian counterparts, and I needed to memorize them.

He told me that instead of videt’ (to see), I had to say bachyty, and instead of slyshat’ (to hear) I had to say chooty. For whatever reason, those words were of immediate necessity, since Peter Pan and his friend were saying “Can you see…?”, and “Did you hear…?” a lot.

Peter Pan’s best friend was this annoying dark-haired boy Pavlo, named in the Ukrainian manner. His was annoying because, while Peter Pan was my cousin and protective of me, Pavlo was trying to flirt with me. I was little back then, and Pavlo was the first boy to ever do that to me.

We visited Pavlo’s house, and I really liked it. It was a very happy house, filled with a lot of light and warmth. These days when I try to recollect its rooms, I only remember sparkling string curtains and the summery, happy feeling it gave me. Since that day, I concluded string curtains were one of the best inventions of the humankind.

***

On the day me and Peter Pan got in trouble with Grandma Maria, we went for a bicycle ride early in the morning. Of course I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle back then. Peter Pan put me on a metal frame, my 2 little legs hanging freely from it, and we strolled slowly down the sand road.

It had been about five days since we arrived, and I had already gotten to know my Dad’s relatives more or less. So I asked Peter Pan, “Who do like better, my cousin Albina or me?” Thing is, back then Albina was (and still is) very popular with everyone in the family: she was charming, cute, funny, smart – you name it, she was it all. And she had one definite advantage over me – she was several years older.

I don’t know why I asked Peter Pan that question. I guess I wanted to hear that he loved me infinitely and unconditionally. I’m still proud of my Peter Pan, because despite his age, he gave a wise answer: “I like you both the same”, he said shrugging, which prevented further questions from me.

In the afternoon, Peter Pan winked at me while we were eating soup that Grandma had prepared for us, as if he had to tell me a secret. Actually, Grandma’s soup was more like stewed potatoes with just a little broth – so thick it was. But I loved it, for some reason the food cooked in her spacious stove with live fire tasted the best.

After lunch, Peter Pan told me he’d take me far away, to a place nobody knew about. I was super-excited.

While no one was watching, we sneaked out of the house and hurried down the dusty village road. I was trying to run as fast as I could, but we had to stop a few times, because I wasn’t that fast. We ran and ran it seemed forever, untill we reached the outskirts of the village. I had never been outside a city, a town or a village without a adult in my life – so that was new and exciting for me.

We walked into a golden field of grass and some other culture probably, but I didn’t know what it was. The space around us was open and the horizon was low – one could see pretty far away from where we were. We were also on a kind of hill from which we could see many things below: part of the village, some farm, a road, a piece of the forest – a whole bunch of interesting things.

Now I realize that, what Peter Pan really wanted to share with me that day was not the scenery, but the feeling he used to get when we used to come there.

Because it had taken us a while to get to that place, the sun was already rather low. Peter Pan stood up amid the golden sea of wheat, turned his face to the sun and closed his eyes. His arms were wide apart, he seemed to be flying in the golden sea.

I still remember his face, although it’s been so many years. His eyelashes were the color of wheat, too. He looked so organic in that field, like he was part of it. I smiled and felt absolutely at peace with the moment. I bet I was flying, too.

***

By the time we returned to the house, it was already pretty dark. Turned out, everyone had been looking for us, and the adults were very upset. I remember thinking back then, “Why is everyone so upset with Peter Pan, but no one is upset with me?”

Peter Pan ended up being punished for both of us; he had to stand on small seeds (that served as food for the chicken) with his bare knees for some time. I thought that was cruel, and I still think so. But my Grandma was of old and strict morals – she was the only person I knew at that time who was addressed by her own children as vy (“you” plural) instead of ty (“you” singular) .

But even while he was being punished, Peter Pan winked at me and his face was happy. It was not the first time he had run away. And I thought – he’d probably do this again.

5 Things You Wouldn’t Wanna Get Wrong If You Were a Spy in Russia

Or else you’d be found out 🙂

1. Semechki

Although semena means seeds in Russian and can refer to any kind of seeds, semechki is used in 99% of instances to denote  sunflower seeds. There is a long-lasting tradition among Russian folks to crack and eat sunflower seeds or  shchelkat semechki as they say. That is, while a Western person would grab a pack of chips and watch TV, a Russian person may as well munch on a pack of sunflower seeds.

There is certain art to it, too. Basically, you position one sunflower seed between your front teeth in such a way that its sharp sides are fixed by the 2 pairs of teeth (top and bottom). Then you close your mouth and the seed cracks easily.

semechki

Usually, semechki would be sold whole and fried. Sometimes salt is added. Some vendors had tried to sell pre-cracked sunflower seeds, but the product didn’t get too popular, because it defeats the purpose – it’s the relaxing process people enjoy, not the result.

2. Drivers flashing headlights at you on the road

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In Russia, the law exists on paper, but a different kind of law is in effect in reality. So, if you are driving and suddenly the drivers moving in opposite direction start flashing headlights at you, this means there is road police nearby. They won’t do it if the police is on their side of the road – only if they’ve seen it on your side of the road.

It is considered polite to raise your hand and wave at the drivers who have warned you. If you don’t, they will think you’re either blind or rude.  Likewise, if you pass by a road police car on the other side of the road, you are supposed to warn other drivers by flashing headlights at them (or flickering high beams for a second if it’s night-time).

3. Olivier is not a person, it’s a salad

If someone asks you “would you like some Olivier”, they’re not talking about a person, they mean a salad. Olivier (the salad) runs so deep in the archetypical memory of the people in Russia, when you say to a Russian person “his name is Olivier”, what they probably think automatically is “oh, like the salad”.

Olivier is an indispensable dish at New Year’s – it has to be on the table. This and many other things made it synonymous with the Russian (or rather Soviet) culture. You may want to read this anthropological study by Anna Kushkova – At the Center of the Table: The Rise and Fall of the Olivier Salad.

They say the Olivier salad was invented by Moscow’s Hermitage Restaurant of 1860, which was a French cuisine restaurant. But I’ve heard a different version of the story o how the Olivier salad came to be.

They say when Napoleon was headed to Moscow, to conquer it of course, his army was experiencing food supply scarcity. One day, Napoleon’s cook who name was Olivier had really no products left to be able to cook any known traditional dish. So, he just used up the products that were left to prepare a salad and serve it to the Emperor. This was how the Olivier salad was born.

And, in case you need a recipe, here is one from Honest Cooking by Elizabeth Lokhova.

4. Never whistle indoors in Russia

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This is considered bad luck. If you whistle indoors, like in a house or an office building, people will look at you indignantly. For this is believed to attract lack of financial funds (=money).

At the same time, opening an umbrella and putting it to dry indoors is totally OK in Russia (unlike in the US – one day I got yelled at by my colleagues for trying to do this in NYC :)).

Also, if you break a mirror, you are supposed to have 7 years of bad luck (or rather – “no sight of happiness for 7 years”). While breaking a glass or a plate is on the contrary very good and is supposed to maximize your happiness.

5.  Show respect to bread

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In Russia they say hleb vsemu golova, which means bread is the head [of all]. By the way, the word hleb is related to hlaef in Old English. The English word lord originates from hlaeford (loaf ward) who was the person in charge of keeping and guarding bread in a settlement in those times. While hlaefdige was his wife – which later evolved into lady.

Bread is present everywhere in the Russian culture. There is a saying “a dinner without bread is no dinner”. Honorable guests are traditionally welcomed with a big round pie of bread and some salt.

Hence, many households still treat bread as something sacred, and you shouldn’t do things like sit on bread, throw it around or anything like that.

So, as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do 🙂

Sonnet 11 by Pablo Neruda

Black Abstraction by Georgia O'Keeffe

Black Abstraction by Georgia O’Keeffe

I crave your lips, your voice, your hair
and in the streets I walk unnourished, quiet,
can’t eat the bread; the rising sun is getting on my nerves,
I search for liquid sound of your footsteps in the day

Am dying of hunger for your rapid laughter,
your hands the color of ripe wheat
and for the pale stones of your nails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat a sunbeam of your scorching beauty
the nose that rules that arrogant face
would eat the fleeting shadow of your eyelashes.

And hungry I go, sniffing the twilight,
searching, searching for the heat of your heart
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

————————————————————

This is my own interpretation, because I don’t like that some translators take the liberty of changins thematic/rhematic relations within a poem, thus distorting the impression the poet intended to produce.

You can find the original in Spanish here.

 

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