Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yesterday, Marta was playing in a sandbox with a 4-year-old girl. I told her to ask the girl's name, and she said, "Devochka, adın ne?" - which is a lovely mix of Russian and Turkish. The girl gave Marta a funny look, I intervened, and that's how we found out that the girl's name was Zhenia.

Marta's Turkish vocabulary is not large - a few dozen words at most, and zero grammar. At one point, she asked me what 'inshaallah' meant, and I'm very proud of the explanation I gave her: "Well, basically, Marta, it means that everything will turn out to be great."

Every once in a while, thanks to Marta, I get a chance to hear what Russian strangers think of Ukraine. The most recent episode took place some ten days ago in the park: Marta was eating ice cream / morozhenoye / dondurma / morozyvo, and the Ukrainian word that Marta kept repeating along with the other three eventually led a middle-aged woman sitting next to us to mention that Ukrainians have always been very unfriendly to Russians. Earlier this summer, another middle-aged woman asked me whether things were really bad for the Russian-speaking folks in Ukraine, after Marta unexpectedly chose to recite her bedtime mantra: spokoinoy nochi / na dobranich / iyi geceler / good night.

Today, Marta was chatting about "kiwi v Kiyeve" ("kiwi in Kyiv"), as I was buying fruit and veggies from a young Azeri street vendor next to our house. The guy always gives Marta a free banana, and she always says sağol ('thanks') to him, and today he has taught her how to say '100 rubles' in Azeri: yüz manat.

Also today, Marta seems to have learned the notion of hate. An evil magician in today's Dora the Explorer was flying around, saying stuff like, "I hate elephants, I hate zebras, etc." When Marta woke up from her afternoon nap, she announced that she hated dogs. As we were waiting for the elevator, she said she hated it, too. She was very cheerful about it, of course. I tried to explain to her that it's not good to hate things, but that only added fuel to the fire (Marta is really great at dissent, as they all are, perhaps, at this age). In the end, we agreed that she hated meat and soup - and even though it's silly to hate this stuff, at least it doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.
Marta, then and now :)

Two years ago, on Aug. 26, 2006, in Pushcha Vodytsya, with her wonderful local friend Artyom, 10:

One year ago, on Aug. 16, 2007 - Mariyinsky Park in Kyiv:

A few days ago, on Aug. 20, 2008, when it was still warm here in Moscow:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Again, I can't stop thinking of that Georgian cab driver here in Moscow, who told me back in March that "he'd do anything to keep [Abkhazia] as part of Georgia, even if it meant he'd have to elect Vladimir Zhirinovsky as Georgia's president for a whole year!"

I wonder what he has to say about it all now.

And I keep thinking of South Ossetia's president Eduard Kokoity - a 43-year-old former wrestling champion and Komsomol leader, who, just like his more lawyerly superiors, seems to favor a rather loose definition of the term 'genocide.'

Below is a video of Kokoity drinking three liters of red wine in front of the cheering crowd in Tskhinvali yesterday:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last week at our park, Marta and I happened upon members of the slingomamy LJ community - They were having one of their regular offline gatherings, and Marta insisted on hanging out in their midst. I couldn't help smiling when I thought that these people were, in theory, part of my job: Russian bloggers. There was no politics involved whatsoever, though, just a lot of adorable babies, and some commerce (handmade slings and crafts). It was fun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Needless to say, most of our conversations are still about what's happened and continues to happen between Georgia and Russia. Most of my reading is about that, too. But I won't write anything about it here. Not now. There's enough firsthand info out there, and even more opinions and screaming from observers outside the region. And I still agree with what I said about it all in the previous post. And it still hurts like hell.


On a different note, here's a picture of the bartender at our Aegean Coast hotel:

His name is Metin (I guess), and he looks amazingly like my grandfather, my father's father, Sergei Andreyevich Khokhlov, who died in 1969, five years before I was born.

I spent two weeks staring and smiling at Metin. On the last day, I took this picture, and now I keep staring at it. I can see not just my grandfather in him, but my father as well. His smiling eyes. It's crazy, because I could never really understand what my father and his father had in common. And now I do.

There's more to it, but I don't want to write about it now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I've done two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven translations in these three four days ... whatever, I've lost count... - here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (plus this tiny one a few tiny items, not all of them translations - here, here, here and here) - and am planning to do at least one or two more. About Georgia/South Ossetia/Russia, of course. Was foolish of me to go on vacation in August, should've waited for a more reliable month.

GV's special coverage page, with more posts and background, is here.

It's breaking our hearts to think about this war. Not sure about Mishah, but I think all three sides are terribly guilty and wrong. All three. And I don't see a point in trying to figure out who the good guys are and who the bad guys are here. I don't see a point in taking sides. Medvedev/Putin, Saakashvili and Kokoity are assholes because of their failure to negotiate efficiently and to prevent casualties and destruction. And I hope Ukraine's leadership will be more responsible than these three (or is it four?), no matter what it may cost them.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Another picture of me taken by Marta:


Thursday, August 07, 2008

We are staying at Kanara Hotel here.

Kanara Otel - used to be Kanara Motel, but then they erased the 'M' from all their signs:

A lovely place right by the sea, very relaxed, wonderful service, wonderful food.

It's like a large, well-maintained communal dacha. We are the only foreigners here. A perfect place for people with kids - there's a playground, food isn't spicy, in addition to the horse, there are rabbits, chickens, pigeons, peacocks, two goats, three big dogs and a furtive cat.

Lots of kids, of course: whenever I get exhausted and begin to despair, it makes me feel somewhat better to know that many adults around me are parents, too, and are in the same situation. But there's enough space here to be able to deal with our little naughty problems on our own - and to avoid partaking of other folks' toddler dramas. Marta has made a couple new Turkish friends, learned a few new Turkish words and phrases.

P.S. And, as you can judge by the frequency of my vacation posting, wireless internet works great here.


Just returned from Assos:

Marta knows that this isn't her first time here, that she's already been in this area once, when she was really, really tiny. I was four months pregnant then, I guess, roughly three years ago.

Below are links to my 2005 pictures, stored at my page, which I visit very rarely these days.

Kayalar - 27 photos

Lesbos - 3 photos

Assos - 23 photos

Ayvacik - 16 photos

Friday Market in Ayvacik - 20 photos

Küçükkuyu - 28 photos

Antiques Bazaar near Edremit - 6 photos

Neighboring Villages, etc. - 18 photos


This year's photos are in this set on Flickr.

Another picture by Marta, of me reading Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union":

Then we gave her Mishah's camera and explained how to use it - and I took a picture of the two of them:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The horse at Kanara Hotel:

I fed it cookies a few nights ago, when it showed up by our room, and then in the morning it stepped on my foot, which was a scary and rather painful experience. We suspect that they use this horse as a lawn mower here.
Marta has learned to use my camera, too. Here's one of her best pictures so far - a waiter at Kanara Hotel:


Just below Kayalar, a fisherman's house:


A roadside cafe/store, somewhere between Assos and Küçükkuyu:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008