Thursday, April 20, 2006

The other morning when I was waiting for the bus (it seems I'm always waiting for some bus or other. Those are the best people-watching moments though, so I don't mind), along with me at the stop was an elderly couple. The woman was wearing leopard-print slippers and had a lacey white scarf tied around her head. It's not an unusual thing here for people (especially babushki) to wear slippers eveywhere. Makes me wonder what the point is of having slippers at all - why not just wear shoes? The man wore a little hat as well as a slightly startled and confused sort of expression. This couple was arguing loudly while we all waited for the bus. All Russian is loud and everyone appears to be yelling at each other all the time. It can be intimidating when you don't understand any of what is being said, and people are just yelling. But after a while, you get used to it, and can even tell the difference between people that actually are angry, and people who are simply conversing. Maybe these two particular people were not very angry, but the woman was definatly upset about something. I caught snatches of what was being said, and it was something about a television. They ended up on the same bus as me, sitting directly behind me, and the conversation continued all the way to the market, much to my annoyance. Usually the bus ride in the morning is fairly calm and quiet, evryone still sleepy I think. Although it's easy to not listen to a conversation you can't fully understand, it's still difficult to block out the noise, and it was intruding on my early morning quiet.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I find myself rejoicing over the arrival of spring this year. The other day I wanted to spin and dance and run down the streets of Melitopol. Usually I'm pretty indiferent to the changing of seasons. I always enjoy the first snow of winter, and of course it's nice to have warm weather again after the cold, but it's never been anything to get all excited about - it's just something that happens. But this time around it's somehow different. I started noticing it a few weeks back. There's something in me that smiles when I heard the sound of dripping water as the snow was melting. It smiles too when the air is mild and the sun is shining. And when I hear birds singing again. And when I see the new green grass growing in places, poking through the graybrown of last autumn's decaying leaves. And there are tiny buds on the tree branches. The song of spring is inside me, right next to that smile. And I thank God for rebirth and this brand new season. This part of the earth is tilting back towards the sun. The days are growing longer. In the winter, the sun seemed to just slide around the southern half of the sky, from east to west, never quite making it overhead, so that even at noon it cast long shadows as if it were late in the day.

I have recently finished reading a book called Culture Shock - Ukraine: a Guide to Customs and Etiquette. A little late, I know. In it I found a funny joke in a section on Ukrainian humour. I thought I'd put it here, since I have no one at the moment with which to share it verbally. It pokes fun at "Brezhnev's dim wit when he announced that the Soviets would outdistance America's space program: They would send a team to the sun. "But we will be burned alive," pleaded one cosmonaut. "And you think we know nothing?" barked Brezhnev. "We are arranging the details so that you will land at night." I laughed out loud when I read it, and even now as I write it here it brings a smile. I don't know why I find jokes like this so funny.