Posts

Нет, Моя! No, It’s Mine!

Under Lenin’s gaze, Naomi, age 4, in blue dress at left foreground, participating in her Leningrad preschool’s celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution’s 60th anniversary, November 1977. One year ago, calling it a “somber centenary,” I wrote about the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution (October Revolution). Now, on the revolution’s 101st anniversary (actually last Wednesday), a […]

Blowing Smoke: Memories of 8 a.m. Russian Class

Since I couldn’t find a suitable photo of a cigarette-smoke ring on Google, here are some shots of a volcano puffing one out. Wow! Last November, in writing about the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, I recalled the birth of my interest in Russia and the Soviet Union. I wrote that when I began […]

Russian Drinking Tales – Round 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about my initial exposure to vodka, back in 1967 during my first stay in Leningrad/St. Petersburg, when a friend and I sat on a park bench and shared a bottle of “the white stuff” with a partially – and soon to be totally – inebriated Russian guy. On that […]

Russian Drinking Tales – Round 1

In my junior year of high school, our history teacher began the year’s first lesson by telling us that “America is a hard-drinking nation.” We may well be, but in my experience, Americans don’t hold a candle to the Russians. I’ll come back to tales of Russian drinking prowess in a future post, but today […]

Just Across the River From the Czar’s Palace

  Dormitory No. 6, Leningrad State University (Neva River hydrofoil in foreground) (Photo: Michael Alberts) Here’s a bit of color about a little-heralded aspect of life in the bad old days of the USSR. The story comes from my first visit to the Soviet Union – as a graduate student – in the summer of 1967. […]

The Best Language-learning Experience Ever

Prabha Gupta, my first Hindi teacher (I discovered this photo in my slide archives over a year after I published this blog post) Part of the good fortune I’ve had in a career that afforded me the opportunity to live and work in several other countries has been the chance to learn other languages and […]

A Linguistic ‘Insight’ That Was Not Terribly Insightful

An article recently posted by a Facebook friend about the “ancient kinship” of Sanskrit and Russian brought to mind a linguistic “insight” that popped into my head several decades ago. Ever since I learned, as a graduate student, about the great prehistoric migrations of people out of the Eurasian steppes, westward into Europe and southward […]

Chai … Чай … चाय

Chai: a wonderful thirst-quencher I was fond of long before it became trendy. Actually, I often drank tea as a boy, as it was my parents’ regular post-prandial refreshment. They enjoyed it with lemon rather than milk, which (unlike coffee, to which they would always add milk) made it acceptable after a meal with meat […]