Superstitions in Russia

My flatmates and I got into a huge argument the other night because I asked, “What should we do about the toilet spider?” You see for the past three months or so we’ve had a spider living in our toilet (note for the North Americans reading, the toilet is a room which contains only a toilet. The bathroom is separate where the bath and sink are located). Apparently Ilmira hadn’t noticed the spider in the toilet this entire time, but since she’s very scared of spiders, she is now angry that neither of us told her about it for three months and now she will be too scared to use the toilet at night. And Angelina hadn’t wanted to tell Ilmira about it for precisely that reason.

Now, as a reasonable person, I suggested that we kill the spider so that we can all move on with our lives, but this was apparently the wrong thing to say. “You can’t kill a spider in Russia!” They told me. “It’s bad luck! We’ll have winter until June!” To make a long story short, we all ended up on the floor with them trying to pin me back as I sprayed the toilet spider with Windex and then tried to bash it to death. Continue reading “Superstitions in Russia”

Anton Chekhov and his journey to Sakhalin

“Sakhalin is a place of the most unbearable sufferings of which man, free and captive, is capable.” (Letter to A. S. Suvorin, March 9, 1890)

On Sunday, Ilmira and I went to the Chekhov Museum downtown. Anton Chekhov, of course, was a famous writer at the turn of the 19th century. His works in realism won him fame and awards and he influenced many of the literary greats of the 20th century including Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway. What may be unknown to Westerners is that Chekhov not only wrote in fiction, but he also made a journey to Sakhalin in the 1890s and wrote a book about his experiences called “The Island of Sakhalin”. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an English copy of it yet, but Chekhov also wrote extensive letters during his life which reveal his thoughts, attitudes, and emotions. Continue reading “Anton Chekhov and his journey to Sakhalin”

Food on Sakhalin

Russia isn’t exactly known for its cuisine throughout the world. I suppose it’s natural that when your country experiences such long and difficult winters, the food ends up heavy on root vegetables or pickles. I’ll admit that it has been difficult adjusting to the food here. I came here a vegetarian, but after some health problems, I’ve had to re-incorporate some seafood and chicken into my diet. But somehow, I’ve still managed to find some tasty things here. (Sorry for the terrible quality of photos in this post but I was too lazy to get my camera every time I had a meal) Continue reading “Food on Sakhalin”

A Thanksgiving Abroad

One of the hardest things to adjust to while living abroad, in my opinion, is the different holiday schedule. It’s so strange that no one else around you is gearing up for a Thanksgiving feast. You can’t make small talk about holiday plans. And when the day comes, it goes completely unacknowledged; you still go into work or school, run errands, cook and clean like normal. In the end, it forces you to realize that the holiday you hold so dear is just a day like any other. Continue reading “A Thanksgiving Abroad”