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Friday, 27 January 2017

Curling my pain away....

Russia is known for very many sports. There are some standard ones, like in the rest of the world and special ones. Regular ones most of us have tried at least once, like - skiing, skating, sledging.....But some are strange, at least to me. Like for example - Curling.

Curling is a sport that I have never understood, at least I could not understand the point of watching it. You have two teams. One person is sliding and pushing a stone on the ice and another person is using something like a broom to make the stone go faster. It seemed so boring on TV and I could not understand the adrenaline that the guys playing it were experiencing. So we decided to try it out. Russia is the home of winter sports and Curling is an Olympic sport, so there has to be some catch in it. One Sunday we decide it to try it together with kids and another family.

Arriving to the place, you get a special pair of shoes and team jackets. A Russian instructor explains the rules in 15 min, you get your broom and you are ready to go.  The tricky part is to learn how to slide in order to propel your stone as far as you can, but not too far of from the red dot at the other side. You slide on one leg on which you have the plastic part which I professionally call - the slider. It looks so damn easy, when you look at other people doing it. But when my turn came, I gave soo much of me into sliding the stone that each time I landed on my back. Ok after 3 tries I managed to realise that the black thing around my knee is there to slide on it and I was feeling like a real Curler.

My biggest issue is my competitiveness. If I play something, I am really in it. That is how I managed to break my toe playing football in our apartment. Yeah, I know what you are thinking now. But if you need me to do presentation for kids - Why you shouldn't play football in the apartment - call me, I will be amazing speaker with real life experience. But to get back to Curling. So, I am waiting for my daughter to slide the stone. I am ready to broom the ice to make it faster. But the stone goes faster then expected and I need to get to it. I turn and try to make a step with my left leg (forgetting its the one with the slider). My left leg goes under me. My right leg follows and I hit the ice full force with my butt. I got up faster than I fell. The competitiveness in me screaming - 'Of the three kids there you are the only one spread flat on the freaking cold ice!' I stroll along pretending its a standard thing. But oh my God. Next two days I spent home with my butt telling me where it is located every minute of the day. Fortunately it got better soon. But falling with 36 and when you are younger actually makes huge difference. I have a new mantra now - It is just a game, no need to break myself if not participating in the Olympics!

In the end the other family won, but actually me and my friend found out a great thing. In the game guys were really doing great in wiping the ice with the broom. So, my plan is to buy some stones, place them around the apartment. Place a broom dipped in cleaning solution next to the entrance to our apartment. My idea is that when my husband comes home and sees the stones he takes the broom without thinking and starts working around the stones. Good practice for him, clean flat for me. And yes, if you try this please let me know if it works for you?! Until my butt fully recovers I continue to practice a less dangerous Russian sport, very good for cold months of winter - drinking vodka!!!!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Perfect Russian wife, to be.....

When I think of a Russian lady, first thing that comes to my mind is a good looking lady in high heels and with perfect hair. Probably from all the influence from Russian top models in the news. Nobody warned me that they are also really good at cooking. In Russia there is still this notion of a perfect homemaker. You, as a woman, are expected to always look amazing and at the same time be a perfect wife at home. And that is where my troubles start.

In Croatia I was a working mom and my cooking was limited to anything that could be done in fifteen minutes. And even when I tried doing something more complex, like a banana bread, it ended in a disaster. Here I really decided I will try to change that. Especially since all my Russian lady friends were experts at everything. And I did try. I even put different names on some things I prepared so that it looks as If I have done it on purpose. Like my famous Flat Banana bread. You can imagine that the trouble was that it never raised in the oven but stayed in some mushy flat shape.

One day my Russian friend, an amazing cook and a lady always looking her best, invited me and my kids to come and build a gingerbread house. It was before Christmas and since in Ikea they sell the houses it sounded to be a fun playdate for the kids, assembling houses and decorating them. She did not really know how bad I am, so she asked me to look up the recipe for cream, in order to be able to assemble the house. I thought I was reading the recipe right. But somehow the cream did not perform what I expected - stick the pieces of the house together. But I was not going to give up. I did my house. Luckily, my kids were already used to my fails and although the house broke and fell apart they were looking forward to eating it. It helped when I explained that actually this house has gone through an earthquake but is still edible.

That night I took my kids home, but my Russian friend did not accept the failure, she stayed up really late. But, she managed to have all three houses, for each kid, done and ready to be decorated. Even my Earthquake house was up and ready.

After this adventure, I think she understood how much I struggle. In a few days she sent me lamb chops prepared in some amazing sauce. She said that at least sometimes my husband should get a proper dinner. I still continue to try, and I did have some success lately. I thinks also if I hang around women who can prepare great meals it will pass on to me. And I will wake one day ready to make my own cook book, or so I wish.

And not only can they cook, they always look amazing, no matter what the weather is outside. A lot of women constantly wear high heels. Last week in Moscow was minus twenty seven. And you could still see women walking in heels with no sign on their face showing that it is, at least, a little bit uncomfortable.  I think everybody could see that I am not from around here. I walked dressed warmer than a polar bear.  My Russian friends vowed that in two years time I will be wearing high heels. Somehow, I think, I might cause some Russian ladies to go into comfortable mode. Look out, this time next year all Moscow will be in warm boots.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Bars, Bargains and Freezingly cold!

Hello world from FunnyNotesBlog!!

So today I asked my seven year old daughter to read my blog name, or to say - former blog name. I think you now understand why I changed it. This name is actually my daughters idea, and being a bit superstitious, I feel the name is lucky.

Reentry to a club: Success!!

We already live a year and a half in Moscow. And I have to proudly say that I managed to get two times into a club, after my misfortune this summer. Yes it was the same club both times, but lets not split hairs. The club was actually great, because you have a place to have dinner and a place to dance, so after few drinks I was ready to hit the floor. I am just not sure if I got old, or if the DJ was bad, but it was a REAL workout. First, the music was like techno dance fast, and just as I was starting to catch the rhythm, it shifted to slow-motion but still keeping the techno beat. Or maybe you lost me here, since the names for the music genres come from a decade ago. The point is, after ten minutes, every part of my body ached and I had to get another glass of wine sitting down.

Cutting down prices like a machine!

I also discovered a new passion: bargaining. Moscow is the best place to do it. No, not in the center. Tried last New Year. I bought fifteen shirts with Putin in different poses for friends in Croatia, and I though I would get at least five percent discount. But no, stone called Russian lady just pretended she did not even hear my question. This year I was smarter and I got some intel from few friends. The place to go to is Izmailovsky market.

The first good thing was that me and my friend went during the week and it was minus fifteen outside. So as market is outside and everybody is at work I knew we had a good shot at getting really low prices. For me, it was going back to my young days, working at different kind of promotions, dragging people by their arms - that you have just what they miss. First, near the entrance was a guy with scarfs. HOW MUCH!!! 500 RUBLES FOR A SCARF!!!! I immediately started to explain how I come from a very poor country and I need it. End price 350 rubles (Last year, I bought same scarf in the city center for only 1500 rubles!!!). And I was just getting started. Best experience was with a guy who tried to sell me Matryoshkas for Christmas tree. I really did not plan to buy any. But we got into a long discussion about which country is poorer - Croatia or Russia. In the end he even invited me to stay eat lunch with him at his stand, since he saw I do look a bit out of money. But he also managed to charm me into buying his Matryoshkas, but for a smaller price. In the end I do come from a country half the size of Moscow.

I had so much fun that I dragged my husband and kids just a week after to go on Sunday. I saw it is going to be minus eighteen, so more bargains possible. And we did well, although not all the Russian sellers understood my jokes. One lady said that for Ushanka, which my daughter wanted, we need to pay 3500 rubles. I immediately told her to give me for 1000 rubles and that I will write her name on the hat and market her around the world. Her face stayed seriously frozen (and not from the cold) so we left.

Just above the market is a wonderful place with museums and different attractions for kids and grownups. In the end we chose a blacksmith, who was freezing in the square. He made a dragon tooth together with our kids. And I truly admire him. Because standing there whole day and being friendly is not an easy task. I did ask him if he is still there when temperatures go to minus thirty. He said - yes and then explained in Russian that he drinks something from the pot. I am not sure if he said tea or vodka, or maybe both?.

In the end we took our loot and headed home. fingers nearly black from
frost. And if anybody knows great places to bargain in Moscow, please let me know. I am even thinking of offering the guys at the stands to help them sell. I just love that simple selling talk and the adrenaline when you score!!!!