Saturday, September 30, 2006
Last night I stayed in and watched some movies (Syriana very good and Clerks excellent). Phil joined me, we sat watching films drinking vodka and juice. Then chatted about life love and our lives I'm sure it was quiet deep only I cant remember due to excess alcohol consumption.
Today I tried to catch up on my Japanese easier said than done, I need to learn the whole Katakana alphabet. Katakana is the Japanese alphabet use to write foreign words its the easiest of Japans three alphabets. To learn it for Tuesday is a bit ask, but after missing two lessons I feel I need to put a lot of effort in to get back to speed.
Martin popped over he has bought himself a Jeep Cheroke 4x4 its big black and very very Martin! He took me out for a ride in it. The ride was very comfortable and it certainly has all mod cons. I can see why he likes it, I still think I would prefer a sports car though.
I'm off round to Jo B's hours to play monopoly and drink beer what a rock and roll lifestyle I lead.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Leaving Minsk Behind
I met Maia early so I could grab some presents for the folks back home, I felt a little hung over from the night before and worried about leaving.
We went to the market and I bought some Matryoshka (Russian Dolls) for my parents Phil Bruce and everyone. We went for a final coffee in London (a nice little coffee bar) and walked back to the hotel I found it hard to speak there was so much I wanted to say but it all ended up unsaid. I checked out and we rode into a taxi she joined me till the edge of the city where her home is.
I hugged her goodby a tear in my eye, she got out and I watched her walk away as the taxi sped off. Another couple of hours I was flying out of Belarus back to warsaw a five hour wait for a plain to the UK. I ended up having to throw away the $6 Vodka I bought but managed to bring Ian some cheap fags (only $16).
On the plain home the first song that came on my i-pod was one of Paul's "Until Your Home" one lyric stood out to me "it aint a lonely life if you find somebody right" I couldn't help feeling maybe I had but I was leaving her behind.
I'll never forget my holiday to a country where people earn $100 a month, worry about going hungry not about what car they drive.
The cleanest country I have ever seen with its huge streets, imposing structures, military on the streets, strange laws with friendly people, but no English.
Minsk - Day Seven
Maia had a lecture in the morning so I went to look around the Great Patritic war monument near to my hotel. I met her at noon and we decided to try and head to the village again as the weather was good, buying some break cheese and ham from the supermarket to have as a picnic we hoped in a taxi and 25 minutes later arrived at the village.
Only one small issue it was closed, Monday is the day when lots of things like the market and the village were closed, oh well third time unlucky. As we already had the food we got back into the taxi headed back to the city and into a different park for a picnic lunch. We even fed the ducks with the crumbs, there werent any Swans though.
Emotions were high and we chatted for hour Maia told me so much about herself and her life I felt so close to her in these moment I just wanted to reach out to her but then part of what she was telling me was the love for her boyfriend so I just sat listened and told some of my stories.
In the evening we went out to the same bar from the first night, I ate caviar for the first time, it was pretty tasty thought a little salty. Guila and Andre met us for a couple of drinks even though they were both feeling ill, very good of them. A Croation friend of Maia's also joined us for a drink.
In the taxi home I hekd her hand and wondered how I could leave this person to whom I had become so close to behind.
Dacha - Day 6
Breakfast was a salami and cheese toasty, very tasty, Maia and I were up hours before Andre and Guila slept in a bit. Maia and I cleared up the Datcha and chatted a little. It was a day to move slow, enjoy the sun pack up and head out for the bus.
We managed to catch an auto taxi on the way back it was actually slightly cheaper though it dropped us off on the outskirts of town. Maia and I said goodbye to Andre and Guila and walked off in search of the city proper.
Walking for miles past though city kind of lost but having a snese of purpose we finally came to a place Maia recognised (it had a McDonalds of all things!). We then headed to the library passing the Childrens railway station on the way; a mini railway run by children. Finally we reached the library again I was itching to take some photos, last time my camera had run out of juice.
Maia was dead tired so I grabbed a taxi and went back to the hotel, going to the Datcha and meeting her friends had been a real treat. The Datcha was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to out in the country surrounded by forest and fields. This was definatly a high point of the trip.
I used this evening to finally finish war and peace! Hurrah I dont think I have ever had to work so hard to finish a book, the characters are so well done but some of the descriptions and Tolstoys historical pespectives can be so dry and difficult bits were a real challenge.
Dacha - Day 5
The bus station was my first opportunity to meet Maia's friend Gulia's and her boyfriend Andre. We then had a very crowded bus journey out into the wild of Belarus during which I gave up my seat to an old chap and then was shouted at in Russian by some old women. Guila and Maia were laughing becuase they shouted in Russian but I knew that they wanted me to go take a seat.
The auto bus took about 45 minutes to get to our stop we then had a three kilometer walk to the Dacha itself.
On arrival Maia went into cleaning mode whilst I attempted to help Andre chop some wood,. I am afriad I wasnt a very good lumberman. Luckly Andre was excellent splitting the logs seemingly effortlessly.
Maia and her family have tended to leave all there old clothes at the Dacha. So she had me try on some of her dads old clothes including his tank ommander coat.
Lunch consisted of Maia tasty home made Ravioli and vegitables. It was really nice and afterwards we sat out chatting in the garden for a while, cut a bit more wood, then I helped Maia do dinner by pealing loads of potatoes.
Andre cooked the meat on the bbq whilst Maia made the potatoes and salad, I got to light the Camin (fire) and stop the cabin burning down as it spat out sparks!
Dinner was lovely hot pork nice potatoes and even some home grown tomatoes. After dinner Andre adn Guila entertained us by singing songs (unfortunatly all in Russian or French but they sounded good he played very well).
Whilst he played we drank first beer then vodka, apparently the way to drink vodka is to have a small glass of vodka neat and a glass of juice (or beer if your hardcore). Drink the vodka in one then sip the juice (and pour another vodka).
Minsk - Day Four
There was only one back here a large Belarus Bank, which turned out to be well a little bit of a problem. First thing this largest bank was busy and operated a rather confusing ticket system thought this wasnt in any way clear even to Maia. WHen we finally got our number called the cashere seemed very confused she had never seen either travellers cheques or a european style passport, It took over an hour to explain, wait and finally recieve my cash (minus 1% unlike Minsk Transit Bank which took nothing). All told finding a bank and waiting for the cash took so long we decied to leave the village trip as Maias friend Anton a DJ on radio BA wanted me to record some English jingles for him.
Radio BA is located above a club Anton gave me a guided tour of the place he seemed like a really fun guy I could see why Maia likes him so much. noticed he was running Mac OSX on a beige box pc ;) After the tour I got ushered into a little sound booth and had to read off a list of phrases for the show punctuated by Anton asking for more emotion or extra emphasis on words. I still hd a cold so I am not sure whether they eventual sounds will be good enough to use but it was fun anyway. It was a pretty strange feeling to stand in a room reading into a microphone.
Maia had booked tickets to see a film (in English fortunatly). At first I thought it was a pretty ordinatry thing to do however Russian cinemas are a bit different, firstly it was the cleanest cinema I have ever been into but some considrerable margin. Secondly there were no popcorn not drinks vending just a screen and a chair.
The film itself Tideland was about Jeliza-Rose the daughter of a drug addicted father who moves to the country after an overdose leads death of her mother. It was incredibly dark but told through her childlike observations to take some of the egde off. Maia squirmed her way through several sections of the film.
After the film we grabbed some dinner and then did some late night shopping for our weekend at the Dacha. Shopping was a real eye opener the supermarker was very different to a English one. You had to pay for meat at the meat counter they wouldnt slice anything for us. We bought vodka, beer, tomatoes, meat, bread and some other bits and pieces.
Another early night in preperation for the Dacha tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Minsk - Day Three
First place we visited was a Russian market there was a lot of artwork icons and dolls. Next stop was the musium of the great patriotic war (WWW II to you and me). The musium like a lot of places in Belarus there is a different price for residents than for tourists.
The first thing to notice is that the Russians date the war from 41-45 not 39-45 as we westerners do because Hitler and Stalin signed a non agression pact which Hitler promptly broke in 1941.
Belarus had it pretty hard the Nazis did not like Communists and totally flattered Minsk and attempted to exterminate as many of its people as possible (probably about 1million people). Their hatred was directed mainly at the non airian population they wanted to save the nordic looking to help futher the master race. All in all it walking about I saw the Russians have a very different war then the one fought in the west.
After the musium went for a bite to eat then off for a look round the Botanical gardens, I was a bit heistant but actully enjoyed strolling around with Maia. We sat for a long time next to the lake there watching the Swans and chatting about things.
On the way out we went the wrong way and found ourselves in the amusement park next door. I found out that Pancakes with filings are a common (and tasty) Belarusian meal. Maia insited on feeding me more medication including rather disgusting cough syrup. Watching the Russian school children file through the park I could have been anywhere in the wetern world on the terrible russian techno pumping from one of the cafes reminded me I was in Belarus.
We made a quiet trip to the bus station to buy the tickets for the Dacha trip and I got a chance to see the Belarus staggering national library. Its simply increadible, ugly and imposing over the ladnscape it boggles the mind as to why! Dispite being a university professor and having had to make a donation towards it Maia had never been inside. Seems like a giant waste of money to me.
Thanks to the fact I was still feeling ill and wanted to get well in time for the weekend trip to Maia Dacha after grabbing a coffee I headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Minsk - Day Two
I woke up feeling terrible, not just from the drinking last night that was just the tip of the iceberg. The cold and sore throat I had felt on yesterday was now much worse, I was running a temperature my throat felt sore. I was generally feeling sorry for myself. Maia was working in the moring and though I had intended to sleep in I couldn't stay in my room. I needed to get out and see something so I walked round the old town and the river to kill time whilst Maia was lecturing; She is a lecturer of Italian at the univeristy.
Fortunatly when she arrived Maia came to my resque again she pumped me full of Russian medication (available over the counter nothing dodgy!). We spent the afternoon mooching about Minsk various parks and looking at some of the buildings there. It was really a day of exploration Minsk is phonominally different to any city I have been to before. Totally demolished after WWII the Soviets rebuilt it making the roads three times as wide, huge pavements and massive parks so big that whilst in the city allow you to feel like your in the country, yet are still stood right in the centre. I forget the names but we saw quiet a few.
One of the parks was a park dedicated to Kids in which Maia couldn't smoke but one great thing we could do was go on some rides. Now I felt pretty ill and these were Belarussian rides they didnt look particuarly well maintained but what the hell nothing ventured so we went on a couple. Maia screemed on the teacups, but that was nothing compared to one Belarussian girl who was so afraid she clung to a nearby tree rather than get on a spinning ride! Her friend and the attendant laughed loudly at her but she didnt budge until the ride was over.
After an afternoon of wondering we went to the Circus which was really good fun. I have never been to a circus before this one wasnt the standard Minsk one but a travelling Russian show from Moscow. They had clowns, dancers, trapez artists bears, and even trained dogs. It was really good fun I am glad Maia took me, I even managed to get a photo of myself with a bear. Ill scan it in when it arrives Maia txted me this morning to say she had recieved and forwarded it on. To be honest the treatment of the bears was not very good certainly the dogs got treated a lot better I felt very sorry for them though I enjoyed seeing them.
Note to the anonymous poster
Many thanks for the comment I am really pleased you enjoyed reading my blog.
Minsk - Day one
Waking up has never come easy for me, so having to wake up at 4am to catch a 6am flight was hard, very hard.
To be honest I was totally afraid. I wasn't sure what to expect, I guy from the travel company was ment to meet me at Minsk 2 airport other than that I was on my own. The journey to Warsaw passed in a sleepy trance and after an hours wait I was on my way to Belarus. It was only a hours flight which passed pretty quick though I did get a little worried that the pilot annonced we were about to land and all I could see were trees no airport or civilisaion at all. Minsk 2 aiport was the pits, it was really hard to understand where to go as there were no signs and you arrive into the departure lounge and have to march down a different set of stairs, if you got the wrong way scary looking Russian people shout at you. I know becoause I was one of the first (there were not many of us) off the plain and not knowing where to go went wrong.
Passport control was harsh it seemed to take forever I dont know what the women was doing but it seemed important she took many long hard looks at me asked somenthing in Russian seemed very upset I didn't understand and answered in English. After about 10 minutes I was let thought only to have to go through a security point to leave the airport! Then one of the best moments of the trip after all the worry over whether she would turn up my friend Maia was waiting for me in the arrivals lounge. along with Alex from the travel company.
Alex drove the 40km to Minsk dropped us off at the hotel. Maia and I then went walking about the city. She showed me the old town and Afgahanistan memorial. Its a memorial to the mothers of soldiers lost in the Afgahnistan war, its a favorite stop for newly weds to put down some flowers and to touch one of the statues, we even saw one newly married couple heading there. I was like a kid wowed by all the different sights around me. Riding along an almost empty motorway passing forest and villages totally unlike anything I have seen before.
In the evening we went out to a bar I got rather drunk on Russian beer and listened to a rather strnage cover band, there were good musicians but had a tendancy to play a really uptempo song followed by a real downer! Strange Strange Strange!
From (Bela)Russia With Love
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Not long now
I only have one more day before I fly out to Minsk, I am both excited and worried. A guy from the travel company is going to meet me at the airport which is nice but only because I owe him money. I have been unbable to buy currency in this country so am having to take cash and travellers cheques to change to Roubles out there.
I went out with Ian last night he seems happier now less dark looking at all th nice ladies in the rectory.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
We got home to find one of the back plates was wrong, played merrygo round moving facplates to try if different combinations would would getting more and more frustrated. One of the sockets had shorted and been melting on the indside so we were lucky to change it.
I dont know what was worse the frustration of the task, my dads annoying comments or my mum repeating "theres no such thing as a short task" over and over again.
All was well in the end though got all of them replaced just took way too long.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
To be honest I am totally afraid what will it be like in a country surrounded by non English speakers on my own will I rise to the occasion or sink without a trace?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Easy Peasy Japanesy
E mi the Japanese girl taking the class seems exreamly polite and good tempered she did move on at a fair pace thought I am not sure I quiet took in all that was going on.
I will be in Belorus for the next two classes though I am going to have to rely on Philip to help me get upto speed, and on my own determination to succeed, I am doomed!
Japanese seems especially hard not only is their alphabet nothing like the latin one they also have three alphabets. We are starting with Katakana the alphabet used to describe all things forign (to Japan). I learned how to write my name though I doubt I will remember for long without practise.
Caught up with Ian and Danny at the rectory for a quiet drink Danny has replaced Lynne with a girl from Liverpool, which is good.
Ian is doing a brisk business by the sounds of it weird thing was I was the only person of Phil Ian dan and myself who isnt self employed, am I not doing as well, should I look to work with Phil or move on try and get somethign else. Its just so difficult I dont really know what is best, its easy to leave a job only to find myslef in a worse position or back on the dole queue. That wasnt fun at all.
Plus its not like my dad got anywhere trying to do his own thing he spent a fortune on stuff to get going and just flushed it down the toilet.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Tonight I found out that the postal service dont have a record to say my passport and visa application was delivered there is less than a week to go I am going to have to make some frantic phone calls tomorrow t make things work out and there might not be a way :S It makes me feel sick to think about it all the pain to get things organized to do undone by the loss of my passport.
I went out for a drink with Phil tonight typically Claire was in the unicorn I cant ever seem to get free I should go somewhere else I shouldnt still feel anything I should have moved on a long time ago and in most ways I have yet she hurt me in a way no-one else ever has and that marked the point from which my love life has yet to recover. Since her I have has a few trysts, Nikkie, Liz, Lynne, and Janice. Yet none of them burned such an indelible and negative image on me. Perhaps I am just destined to be alone to always desire and yet never to fulfill those desires.
Yes I know who wants to go out with an overweight depressive like me, but yet I can be more am more I just need to cut away this cancer this malaise which pulls me back.
Its my first Japanese lesson tomorrow Lulu was most upset when I told her I think she would prefer me to learn anything but, however it dosnt change my desire to visit China before returning to Japan, who knows where life will lead perhaps Ill change perhaps i wont even so the world will keep turning the sun will still burn and life will go on.
Spoke to Liz last night she thinks the quailty of my blog has declined marked recently and I cant say I arguewith that particularly I feel a lot like I write the same thing over and over. Perhaps its bause I keep repeating the same mistakes or I am too afriad to move on with m life. It seems every choice I make is wrong and I doomed forever to waste away my days trapped in a cycle of decline. I hope one day to find a purpose some relife from all this, this life, this pain, this nothing.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Laugh at the Legion again
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Late nights and early mornings
Next stop was Macclesfield to meet up with Ian Paul and Wooler, we met them in Weatherspoon, they were drunk already so Phil fitted in well. Everyone was in high spirits dispite the rather agressive people sat behind us whom seemed to be spoiling for a fight. Especially with there cheap and dangerous women flirting with some other guys who were there.
Next stop was Barracuda bar, this was a much nicer place though did they really need the airport style security and is they was the scanner work in line with the data protection act?
Barracuda is a South African style theme bar it was pretty modern and nice there were certaintly a lot of nice looking women. Ian exained the dancefloor and on his return accidently knocked over the pint of someone twice his size oops. Fortunatly he was nice enough not to make a fuss. Ian pulled the same trick demolishing someones pint when he went to the toliet as well oops.
We chatted and they drank some more I was sober so the jokes started wearing a little thin, I wish I had stayed this way last time I went out with him.
Unfortunatly I already felt tired so I left about 11.30 took Phil with me he was still very drunk dispite being on cola since I picked him up. I grabbed a relativly early night in order to get up at 6am and get into work in order to get a software release out before 9am. It actually went very well and I was finished a little after 10 (had a couple of hours of testing after the release).
This afternoon I am off to the other server to grab a full backup.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
From one weird concept to another last night I watched 911 loose change which is a documentary presenting an alternative version of the events of 911. When looked at in a different light there are a number of things that are very strange, especially surrounding the collision with the Pentagon and the missing gold from under the trade centre. I would definatly recommend a viewing.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Bruce popped over last night we were going to watch a film but he brought the wrong hard drive round so instead we ended up a the pub with Nick and Becky. This wasnt all too bad really Becky was tormenting Nick as usual and looking forward to their upcoming Moldive holiday.
Arctic Monkeys won the mercury music prize a fact which galls me slightly I thought it was time Thom got some recognition form the judges, FFS Roni size was given the award the year OK Computer was up what a traversty.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Life Long learning
Live tonight at the Retro Bar
Phil and I went out to Retro Bar in Manchester to listen to some band of whom the bass player was a student of Bergers, in fact a lot of people there seem to be students of bergers. I dont know what the band was called they were pretty good thought in fact there were at least 3 good bands hoever the last one were so awful phil and I walked out our ears needed peace.
It was only 10pm so but we didnt feel like going anywhere else in Manchester and headed for home stoppping at the unicorn for a few more beers (for myself Phils was driving). Julie has bought herself a new car and she was really excited telling us about it.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
After feeling sorry for myself most of yesterday playing counter strike and reading the latest economist I was feeling well enough to go out for a couple of drinks with Becky Nick and Ian. Ian had recovered better than me and was in fine spirits, we sat in the rectory beer garden slowly freezing in order to check out the women much to Becky's chagrin. I do of course remember her from her pre Nick days in her more provocative dressing. The upstairs bit of the Rectory was closed off because they were having a corporate event for Jet 2, one of the barmaids (the cute polish one) made a tie out of the immense receipt.
Bruce and Phil joined us as well for drinks chat and fun I had a few drinks but managed not to disgrace myself which is a bonus. I think Ill go to the gym in a couple of hours but first I am going to read a few more chapters of War and peace, its really hard going at the moment lots of description of battles and military goings on, personally I feel Tolstoy is better at working with characters rather than discussing historical events however its good stuff just dense.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The one with the riot
It all started nicely enough, I had done an early morning at work to roll out a software release (the most successful this year I think). I got my papers from Smok travel for my visa, so I went to the post office to get it all sent off. It actully was quiet annoying you can only pay for a visa by postal order I didnt realise you can only pay for postal orders with cash, not cards so I had waited in a queue for 20 minutes only to have to leave the postoffice get cash return to the post ofice queue again :S
A quick gym soon soothed the tension away though, I did a cardio session I was a little achy from the weights I did last night so it was hard going but I managd an hour on various machines.
Berger decided to drive, he picked up myself, Ian and Phil at 8. We headed to the John Millington in Cheadle Hulme for a few warm up beers, sitting outside in the darkening evening we chattered about life caught up on things. Generally though we avoided talking about Faye, I told everyone about my experience in arranging a visa to get the Republic of Belarus. We had a few drinks a few laugh but the crowd in the Millington was older and we needed a change so we headed out to Withington.
This was where the night suddenly started to go dark so times in life you turn a corner metaphorically suddenly finding things change last night we drove round a corner into the middle of a riot. I don't know why they were fighting but I watched a tall guy throw a teen on the floor and start pummelling him. Other guys and girls wee fighting and pushing it was horrible. We all jumped out of the car and tried to break it up. The older lads saw us and jumped back into the car Ian called the police. The police fortunately were at the scene quickly. Unfortunately one of the protagonists mistook me for a guy who had attacked him his head was bleeding and I don't think he really knew what was going on. So my shirt got covered in someone else blood, really nice.
Fortunately Berger had a spare in his car, it was a bit big on me because Jo is so much taller. Next stop was Withington we drank some more stood outside Dave and Clare rolled up we chatted to them I got quit drunk and morose I don't know if it was the fighting or the place. I don't know what time it was but we left went and got a kebab (oops what happened to the diet) and some more beer from Tesco. Berger dropped us of at my house where we ate and drank some more. Phil and Jo left Ian stayed telling me all bout the Faye situation it was horrible there wasn't much I could say and I was so drunk. I think he just wanted to get some of it out there, I can&pos;t believe either she or people like Phil P could be so deceitful.