Tuesday, March 01, 2005

On Sunday, we were at a friend's birthday party at Magnolia restaurant - a small, inconspicuous and not really cozy place, serving amazing Ajarian and Georgian food. It's sort of hidden right next to Kuntsevo commuter train station - the area very close to the beginning of Rublyovka but so battered it could easily pass for one of those average small towns far from Moscow.

Afisha Magazine calls Magnolia "a paradise with a very poor interior," where the food's so delicious you should eat with your eyes closed - if that's what it takes to survive the lack of luxury.

Their homemade red wine is wonderful - though there was a bit too much of it for me. Live Georgian music was awesome, too.

I spent some time walking around and taking pictures: of commuter train passengers, stray dogs, a homeless woman, and Magnolia's owners, waitresses and musicians.


It was reported (in Ukrainian) that Yushchenko celebrated his 51st birthday at O'Brien's Irish Pub in Kyiv. No special arrangements had been made: allegedly, President Yushchenko, Prime Minister Tymoshenko, Speaker of the Parliament Lytvyn, Kyiv's Mayor Omelchenko, Internal Affairs Minister Lutsenko, Emergency Situations Minister Zhvania and others just showed up there and proceeded to the pub's second floor. Yushchenko's birthday presents included books, flowers, a firefighter's hat from Zhvania and a painting board from Lutsenko. According to someone who happened to be at O'Brien's that night (the pub stayed open, despite the presence of the VIP guests), Lutsenko ended up the drunkest of all - obviously, he made a cute but silly attempt for a civilian to outdrink a bunch of his deputies, high-ranking police officials.


A friend who used to work as a waitress at one of the pretty expensive restaurants specializing in Central Asian food here in Moscow, told me that Ramzan Kadyrov, son of the late Akhmad Kadyrov, had often been their guest. I asked if he was as scary in real life as he appeared on TV, and she said he was a hundred times as scary. He used to come with 15-20 Chechen guys, all armed, all cursing and acting very rude toward the restaurant's staff. Their bills were always enormous, though. Waitresses dreaded being either liked or disliked by him - dreaded drawing his attention in any way. There was one waitress he always wanted to be served by, a beauty, but she quit after a while, for fear of being kidnapped. My friend was lucky not to ever come too close to him. Some of the restaurant's guests preferred to leave immediately on learning that Kadyrov was eating nearby.

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