Leviathan

Leviathan

For the past few months a lively topic of discussion in Russia has been the film Leviathan, directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev. The title is taken from the Book of Job, with which the plot has some affinities. This movie won a Golden Globe award for best foreign film and...
Eating Well, Non-EU Style

Eating Well, Non-EU Style

Last summer, with all the sanctions set in place against Russia and the resulting counter-sanctions, some pundits in the States were predicting food shortages for Russians. Such has not been the case. Store shelves are as full as before, with pretty much the same...
Bigger than Sochi

Bigger than Sochi

Now, with the Olympics running their full course, the Russian media have place for little else. It’s been this way for awhile. All eyes here have been on Sochi and have been following the elaborate preparations for the winter games. Yet not long ago, for a week or so,...
An Old Film for a New Year

An Old Film for a New Year

Recently NPR featured a story about a Soviet-era movie that remains popular to this day in Russia, called The Irony of Fate.  Click here to see NPR story. In Soviet Russia, Christmas was of course greatly downplayed, and the New Year assumed many of that holiday’s...
December Rain

December Rain

Who ever would have thought it? Usually by the beginning of December the ground in Novosibirsk has been white for a month. This year, the snow just can’t seem to stick. For most of November, temperatures hovered around the freezing mark. Last Saturday’s 37 degrees and...
Moscow Amazes Again

Moscow Amazes Again

Last March, Moscow was put to the most severe test by me and came through with flying colors. It was my own fault, really. Usually, when I receive a proposed flight schedule from the travel agent,  before approving it I check not only the connecting flights, but also...
Victory Day

Victory Day

For many Americans May 9 is just another spring day. In Russia, however, one would have to be comatose not to pick up that this date marks the anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany. World War Two will not be soon forgotten here. Much of it was fought on...
Springs Have Sprung

Springs Have Sprung

In most places the first sign of spring is a robin or a green blade of grass or a crocus poking its shy head out of the ground. In Siberia the first sign is a trickle of melting snow. This winter it snowed more than usual, and it has stayed colder longer.   For the...
Siberian Easter

Siberian Easter

Easter, or Pascha, as it’s called in Russian, came early this year. Yet the Siberian winter weather in no way quelled the joyous note. The long-awaited exchange “Christos voskres! Voistinu voskres!” (“Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”) sounded with as much vigor...
Behind Closed Walls

Behind Closed Walls

I’m just about at the end of a three-week reprieve from Siberian winter. Well, sort of a reprieve. I’m in Ukraine, near the city of Odessa, in a village called Usatovo. What am I doing here, you ask? This is the location of a Lutheran seminary where I’ve just finished...
Winter Holidays

Winter Holidays

In America, the colored lights came down long ago. Not so in Novosibirsk. In the still-long nights and dark mornings of February they burn brightly. This is all in celebration of the winter holidays. And no, I’m not using that phrase the way people in the U.S. do so...
Fire!

Fire!

A week ago there was a fire in my apartment building, on the eighth story. There was a lot of smoke. The fire engines and ambulance came. I wasn’t home at the time, but heard about it from the neighbors later. In piecing together the details from various sources, I...