Published: December 14th 2008December 7th 2008
Friends through the Blog
Meet Marc and Bjorn, new friends from Germany that found me from my blog. (Please notice the "American" refrigerator in the background with all of the magnets on it.)
For as large as this world is, it really is pretty small and it is amazing how we can all be brought to gether by the smallest of ways. I thought of this last night while at Oleg and Zhana's flat warming party. Oleg's toast was actually to me and how I was the reason for most people at the table knowing each other. I had a similar toast to Freddie at my going away party that it was because of his hello in English that we really met and became friends and of course from there, I met Leo, Egor, Andrey and the rest of the friends there in Obninsk and then Egor would not have met Margaret who was the one that strongly recommended I keep a blog of my time in Russia, which is how we met Marc and Bjorn, who were searching the web for "Obninsk" and found my blog and have now joined us for some good times in around the table.
So it really is a very small world out there when you think about it and I am so glad I came here to Russia to enjoy a different culture and traditions! Thank
you to all of you who made this possible and a great experience!
It has been some time since I posted anything and they may not be significant events like traveling to Tokyo, but they are significant because they involve my friends here in Obninsk and around the world so let me start with 12/01 going away party at volleyball. Last Monday was my last day at volleyball and it was an emotional, but very good time. (I will get some pictures posted once I get them back as I did not take any with my camera.) First, the Monday practice and sauna was dedicated to me, which was announced when we first started then after volleyball and sauna, we enjoyed story time and a few drinks. I have to say, it was a very emotional time for me. The Team bought me an oil painting of a Russian winter scene so I can think of them when I move back to the States. They also made me an honorary member of their gold metal team along with a picture we took last summer after one of their tournament where they placed first. In the picture, I just happen
Friends with No Boarders
This toast is to friends with no boarders.
to have my red RUSSIA shirt on that matched their uniforms perfectly so I look like I fit right in with them. On the back of the picture, they listed each of their names and a little history so it was very nice as well. Finally, Nicholi, our coach who's English is not so good, but read me a full presentation in English. It was great! With the exception of the presentation, I have to thank Freddie who did most of the translating for everyone.
I gave each of them their own "memo" which I have become famous for since I do not bring a translator to practices, I would type up a memo for the captain if I wanted to tell them something. There was one time I had been away for a couple of weeks so when I came back they asked, "No memo?" Along with the memo, I gave each of them a volleyball key chain. Here is part of my "memo", With my lack of Russian, I am sure everyone knows about my translated “notes” to Nicholi when I need to communicate. With great sadness, I am providing this note to all of you as it will most likely be my last one. I can remember the first time coming here with one of our translators just looking for a team. I remember with Gaukhar’s help talking to Nicholi asking if I could join the team. I was so nervous the first time, I even got to the gym early and almost left when no one was there at 17.00, but slowly each of you started coming in. I will not forget Dima was the first one to try to talk to me. He did his best to speak to me in English that we first needed to warm-up. I found everyone very inviting and genuine.
It honestly had been some time since I actually played volleyball competitively so I played as hard as I could that practice, first so not be cut from the team before every joining, but also to be accepted. You will none know how sore I was those few days after that first practice. My muscles hurt so bad, I even had tears in my eyes when I had to go up or down stairs at work and home; but it was well worth it!
I joined so I could get a little exercise, but also be part of the local community. Never in my wildest dreams, where I do not speak the language or even know the culture, did I expect to meet so many friends and not only play on a volleyball team, but also be a part of that team. I may only know few Russian words and many of you may only know a few English words, but I have thoroughly enjoyed our sauna “discussions” on Mondays. I know I have “graduated” to sitting at the top with many of you, but I am still not Russian enough to jump in the cold pool no matter how “good” it is for me. ;)
Besides the sauna experience, there are many other stories I could tell. One that I must share is when Sergay asked me play on his team for one of the tournaments he entered. Unfortunately I was not able to play, but you will never know how much pride and joy that brought me! Honestly, I could tell many more stories about how each of you uniquely touched my life and added to my wonderful experience here in Obninsk and in
Russia - THANK YOU!
One of My Best Friends
Vince being silly with Dasha at Oleg's party.
The next story is about my two new German friends, Marc and Bjorn. I can not remember when, but it was a couple of months ago, I get this email from some guy in Germany wanting to know about Obninsk. Actually, I can not remember what Marc's first email said, but I know we talked a lot about Obninsk, the hotels, etc.; but he had found my blog on the web so thought he would contact me. I did not know much about he and Bjorn, but they were doing something in Kaluga for VW. I did not mind helping them. I can not remember where I was when they arrived, but I was not in Obninsk but Leo met with them. For my first meeting, I invited them to my flat along with Leo and Freddie to see and experience more of the real Russia as oppose to the hotel. We had a great visit and they are great guys that I am glad we met.
On Friday, we had a real international table at the Mexican Cafe. It was Marc and Bjorn (Germans), Ruben (Spanish), Leo (Russian), and me (American) all
Egor fell in love with Milk Duds while he was in the States so I brought him some back for him to share with others.
at the same table in the middle of Obninsk, a small city in the middle of Russia (well, maybe not the middle of Russia, but definitely not Moscow or Saint Petersburg where you might expect to find an international group like ours meeting). For those of you that do not know Ruben, he is a contractor we have at Elinar-Broiler working on some of our equipment. He met with the Obninsk Gang, and even some of my American friends that came to visit, when he was spending months with Elinar-Broiler during the initial installation of the equipment.
So my next toast goes to a good friend, Margaret Burton, in San Diego CA for encouraging me to make and keep this blog! Thank you Margaret!
The next story was on Saturday (12/6) when I joined Oleg and Zhana at for their house warming party. They are still doing some work on their flat, but it looks great! I saw it in the fall when Oleg was just getting started and it has come a very long way and has now become a HOME. Oleg, Zhana and their daughter Sonja, will have many happy stories to tell from their
new home. One of the stories I will not forget everytime I see Oleg's flat is the day he was walking around the office carrying his brief case. Michael asked him why he was bringing his computer to lunch, which is when Oleg explains to us that it has all of this money for his down payment on the flat. I about fall out of my chair thinking he is carrying that much money, but as Oleg explains, after he sold his flat in Saint Peterburg, he is no longer a resident there and has not bought anything here yet so not a resident in the Naro area so it is very difficult to open a banking account without residency. Yes, he could have transferred it using Western Union type of service, but of course there are service charges, etc. so it was easier just carrying the cash. This still amazes me, but welcome to Russia.
So this next toast is to Oleg and Zhana, "I know there has been a lot of money, sweat and tears put into this flat to make it home. Here is to each of you for many happy and healthy stories for your
immediate families as well as your extended (friends) family in your wonderful new home."
The final story was my trip to Moscow. I went for the weekend to do and see some things I have not done since I moved here like the Moscow Circus. As most of you know, I am a huge Cirque fan and I know a lot of their performers come from Russia and had heard many from the Moscow Circus so I wanted to see it. I tried to go when Jetta and the kids were here, but they were not open on the day we had free so I went with my friend Zhena who was in Moscow visiting. For a circus, it was good, but it was nothing compared to Cirque and I would be surprised if a lot of the performers come from this circus. I am also not a big fan of using animals for circus acts especially non-domesticated ones such as bears or tigers. If you go, there really is not a bad seat in the place and even the top area is not that far to see the acts in the center ring so do not spend
a lot of money for the lower section. Yes, it does put you closer if you want to be up front and personal with the acts. We bought middle level tickets and they were perfect. Again, it was not bad, but just not Cirque.
Zhena and I also went to see Bolt. It was only in Russian, but I kept up with the story line and I would highly recommend going to see it. It was somewhat of an emotional movie so Jamie, if you go, bring a tissue with you knowing how you get during movies. It was funny to see where they replaced the English Bolt with the Russian translation, for example on his dog tag; but I would see different parts of the movie where they missed it and it was back to English name.
It was a good weekend in Moscow!
So finally, let me conclude with what has become one of our standing toasts that Leo came up with and I do think it is so appropriate, "Here is to friends without boarders!" These friends may be next to us or on the other side of the world, but let those
things that we have in common hold us and keep us together so here are to my friends, both near and far, new and old! Thank you!
There are more photos below