Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blinis and ribbons and hearts...

And so.

It has been a busy month, and I don't know if anyone even reads this blog and noticed that the weekly post has been long due...

But the painting progresses. With Vladimir Vladimirovich's face done, I have started working on the details surrounding the centre of the painting. The blue background is done first in acrylic, and now I've smeared some lovely ultramarine blue straight from the tube on it. 

I've been busy because it's.... Pancake Week/Maslinitsa! The Russia Club and Russian restaurant Buyan organized an awesome blini buffet. Rabbit ragout, sturgeon, mushrooms and all... (well, maybe not all, there was no caviar).

That's about it... but next year I hope to go to Russia for a real Maslinitsa celebration like this:

That has got to be the most fun festival int he whole world!

Anyway, a few parties and several blinis later, I finally get to sit down and paint/write. In my dress and all. I actually am not a messy painter at all--what stays on the canvas, stays ont he canvas. What stays on the brush stays on the brush. 

So after the painting session, I decided to check in on the elections, and the first thing I stumbled upon was this video:

Protesters rallying for fair elections formed a human ring on the Garden Ring Road, waving their symbol of the anti-Putin movement: white ribbons. It is quite an incredible sight, a human ring, drivers honking in support, and people waving and distributing white ribbons to everyone.

One could associate white with surrender--or the lack of corruption, as the People's Action Party in Singapore took to their all-white uniforms: 

So, I shall take the anti-corruption stance.

But what about those people holding the red hearts standing behind the white ribbon people? I took a closer look and saw this:

A bunch of mostly young peeps hit the streets with what seemed to be recycled Valentine hearts to have a face-off with the White Ribbons. "Putin loves all!" they declare, as they hand out tri-colour ribbons. 

Classic Red vs. White. Class.

And with that, Pancake Week Ends.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hyde Park copycats? Not even close!

I nearly fell off my chair when our dear VVP proposed forming "speaker's corner" similar to Hyde Park. It was a weird sense of deja vu... one that punches you right between the eyes and makes you reel back and collapse in tears of mocking laughter. It's almost sarcastic.

There are a few things Singapore has in common with Russia--most of which I celebrate and try to share the joy with my fellow citizens. But this Hyde Park thing isn't one of them.

Really, it isn't.

Singapore didn't only attempt--it really went and do it. In 2000, the government marked out a space in Hong Lim Park for a so-called "speakers' corner". They erected a signboard with the exact words, "Speaker's Corner", just in case people didn't know what that empty patch of grass was for.

Well, we still don't know what it's for.

We thought that anyone was supposedly allow to bring a soap box, stand on it, and complain about the ruling party and government.

Or so we hoped.

When it was first opened, there were some rules which basically killed Speakers' Corner at its infancy. Yes, soap box (stool/chair usually) was Bring-Your-Own and nobody complains, but you had to let the police know that you were going to hold a speech.

And there are more rules... no discussion racial or religious topics which may cause any bit of ill will, and anything said is subject to existing defamation and sedition laws.

Fortunately, after several years of chirping cicadas and crickets, the government decided to make new rules and forgo the police permit requirement... and...

...oh, I forgot, they still required speakers to register on the National Parks Board. And you have to tell them the topic you are going to speak about. And oh, they also installed a new CCTV in 2009.

And they wonder why the only living things at Hong Lim Park are insects, birds and silent people.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, you know how much Russians love to debate. They love arguing about everything. Especially politics. They aren't afraid of walking out the streets to speak out. They'd risk their lives for the ideals. Maybe your idea of a Russian Speaker's Corner isn't a bad idea. But please, for the love of god, don't do what Singapore did.

I'm not sure what he'll come up with next; it's not finished yet. Not the campaigning, nor the painting. Today, I worked on the eyebrows. Yup, he may have raised a few himself.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another milestone in Singapore-Russia relations

Some years ago, when The Singapore-Russia Connection was still in its infancy, it was extremely difficult to learn Russian.

Yes, I know it is still difficult to learn Russian as a foreign language--but what I meant was, it was nigh impossible to find a Russian language tutor. Let alone group classes. I had some individual classes for awhile before I left for Russia--my great escape and greatest adventure ever--at the age of 18. I had managed survival Russian, the alphabet and numbers. 

I returned from Russia in 2006, armed with an agenda for a new era of The Singapore-Russia Connection, backed up with a certificate for Basic Level Russian as a Foreign Language. So when I returned, I continued my lessons. Thats' when I met Katya at a language school here.

A few years later, Katya started her own language school, The Russian Language Center, and just opened the new premises last night.

I had a pretty crappy day on the day of the party, which made me miss the opening ceremonies at the earlier part of the party, and it pissed me off. So I was determined to get drunk. And I did. This is something I don't do often. In fact, I think it's only happened a handful of times in recent history. I mean, to decide, consciously, to get drunk.

Apparently I was saying/typing some pretty bizarre stuff. So all the evidence was there. Scribbling on the RLC "wall" of Post-it notes, on my Facebook wall, sending weird messages to anyone who happened to be online.

Well it was fun while it lasted. The thing is, I remember what happened. All of it. I just don't remember how it feels.


Yes, so, that's about all that's happening. Thank goodness I did not try to paint last night. But that's an idea... and I'll have a blank canvas on standby next time I deliberately plan to get drunk. Yup.

More re-working on the eyes. No painting last night. Was too drunk.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lies, damned lies, and statistics...

Ok, maybe that's an unfair post title. I actually love looking at the results of VITsOM polls. In fact I got really excited when one of them came knocking at my Moscow apartment, only to find out that they were only polling Russian citizens. Ah well. But yes, they say so much with a buncha numbers.

Guess who's in the first? 

Well, that isn't so important because the headline of this RIA Novosti article declared that Gorbachev (14%) and Yeltsin (17%) are the most unpopular leaders of Russia or all time. Even Stalin was more popular than either of them. (Each earned a respectable 28%)

Which of these leaders will get your vote, if they all ran for President next month?

Well, actually... that's a scary thought.

And oh, forgot to update you guys on the painting. Here it is. More work done on the eyes.