A Moscow Cup of Tea

May 10, 2015
American Mother’s Day

teaMoscow is principally for us a place to gather as many friends and family as we can muster at any given time, and since the observed holiday for Victory Day is tomorrow (Monday), the Sunday gathering at our apartment is more than usually crowded. My American friend and his family come over with fried chicken wings and garlic bread, while my wife’s local cousins bring their children for a sleepover. It is a grand occasion of East meets West with overlapping conversations in Russian and English. But the capital part of the evening after all the eating and customary toasting is the after dinner tea. It is the most vital symbol of the seemingly endless conversation that ensues. Continue reading

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Extreme for Us, Normal for Russians

As Bilbo the Hobbit is known to say, “Dangerous thing leaving your front door. You never know what adventure might await you.” I have always loved this combination of the momentous with the ordinary, of a risky adventure with something as commonplace as closing the front door.

The Russian definition of adventure is very different from the American one. When our cousin invited me for a walk through the forest to see a waterfall, I knew my American visions of well-traveled paths, safe overlooks, and points of easy return were all illusions. It was more like a bush-wack than a stroll. What made it more difficult is the very steep landscape in this mountainous, seaside region. Continue reading

Family Reunions in the Kingdom of Heaven

In America, we like to start and end our events “on time”, and whenever things don’t strictly correspond to the clock, guests and hosts alike can get pretty disturbed. In Russia and especially here in Sochi, we follow a different kind of clock and feast in a very different  way.

Today is Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which is by default always a feast day. After going to morning Liturgy, we return to our aunt’s home to a table laden with delights befitting the day, but as I posted earlier the point is not the delicious food, but the company gathered, which for Sochi allows the largest amount of family not only to gather for a single meal but to live for a while in close proximity to one another.

Continue reading