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March 2009

8th of march


even for a funeral, it's odd for happiness..

i discovered that it's bad to give an even number of flowers to someone unless it's for a sad occasion like a funeral.  the 8th of march is women's day, an international holiday that has an interesting history in russia and several of the former soviet bloc countries. here's a wiki link to photo and more details.

when i gave flowers to my girlfriend, she happily excepted them but kindly asked me why i picked an even number. she then explained that traditionally an even number of flowers that are given to those suffering a loss, while an odd number is used to celebrate times of happiness.  being the foreigner that i am, she quickly forgave me for my slip up. 

the 8th of march is a big holiday in russia.  i compare it to mother's day and valentine's day combined in the states.  the florists were packed over the weekend as men swarmed the city buying bouquets for the ladies in their lives.  it was also a time for the vendors to mark up the flowers in price. since i was meeting other female friends, i couldn't show up empty handed  so i bought some extra flowers.  i even got to practice my russian through out the day, as i wished good health, success and happiness to all the women i ran into during the day. the phone companies were so busy with sms messages to everyone, that it took a half an hour for one to get through.

even at work, the men stepped up their game as we met and organized for an event to present to the ladies on the friday before the holiday.  this year we dressed in hawaiian shirts and shorts, met all the ladies at the door to adorn them with leis, and performed a song with musical accompaniment.  this was followed by a gift giving ceremony and as a grand finale; a funny indoor fireworks display involving bubble wrap. 

Ignat Solzhenitsyn

if that name sounds familiar, its probably because its the name of a classical pianist and conductor, that's also the son of the russian writer and historian, aleksandr solzhenitsyn.  i got the chance to see ignat play piano last night at a small concert hall here in vladivostok.  although he lives in the u.s with his wife and children, he conducts and performs around the world.  

his performance was magnificent and fascinating to watch.  i attend with some of the other americans.  we all had regrets about not continuing a musical pursuit from our younger years.  i always feel that after watching a captivating performance.

one side note- i've decided russians, at least in vladivostok, are use to starting public events later than what the ticket says.  this concert was the first time i committed to a no-rush policy.  the concert was suppose to start at 6:30pm, the same time i just arrived at the venue's door.  i strolled to the coat check line, waited in line, dropped off the coat, walked to the auditorium to find my seat, sat and waited another 10 minutes, until the announcer finally came out.  i guess shows just like to wait for all us late comers to find our seats.  i normally don't arrive late, but in this case it was right after work and i'd never been to the hall before.  there's something positive to be said for tardiness.