Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spring's almost over

Late spring in Russia teaches you something, amongst others: heat can kill people. Otherwise, it makes you excessively sweat till you tip off the scale of your gross-o-meter and feel like marching up to the dean’s office in the heat of the moment (pun not intended) and demand the lecture halls and classrooms be installed with fans. I mean, honestly, it isn’t winter all year round in Russia, okay! And some of the teachers seem to have this uncanny thought that we Asians are blinking used to the heat. Firstly, ladies and gentlemen, we don’t normally reach 40 degrees on a sunny day, and secondly, we’ve got fans to keep us cool. And yeah, we don’t normally do sunbathing, thank you. It’s pretty amazing to notice scantily-clad locals lazing on the benches in the parks, soaking in every ray of the sunlight with this unperturbed expression. And oh, don’t even think of wearing an umbrella, you’ll be laughed at by some of the nastier, cooler-looking ones. All I can say is, thank God I won’t be here for most of summer.

Mid-spring, now that’s a different story. Before the pollens began to hit town like blowing snow, there were tulips. Blossoming in wide-ranging colours, these charmers lent shades of meaning to the beauty that was spring. The weather was at its best when the tulips were around, short-lived as they were. All but a mere month, and the soil took a sombre hue once again, until the advent of the roses, come June. In the meantime, the temperature spiraled upwards, we got all sweaty and reached paragraph 1. It’s a vicious cycle, life is.

Victory Day celebration on 9th May imparted delightful memories of a lovely spring holiday. Last year I went to the banks of Volga river for a taste of the merriment, so this year Mother Russia decidedly became the choice of destination. I originally wanted to dedicate a detailed entry on the subject, but lazy writer mode has kicked in this time around so many apologies everyone. I do hope the pictures will atone for the lack of story in my part. Blame it on the weather! Tee-hee.

Sin Ye before our morning route

introducing my sister's camera- it's got some issues with the batteries and didn't even make it halfway through the trip. sob. (the radial blur- saje tweaked digitally- is kinda ironic- that's the effect my own camera would naturally produce in its current condition. haha)

Pak cik and mak cik sleeping on the bus. They looked so cute I had to snap a pic. The bus was a classic sardine can case, but we weren't prepared for the sight awaiting us upon arrival. The crowd turnout was simply amazing; it was such a pity that the weather was cloudy and thus, not ideal for good photography.

One of the many people selling balloons; I didn't buy one this year- wondered why.

These two guys were playing tag- I had fun watching their cute antics, taunting each other as they engaged in the chase.

The pool at the lower level of the memorial- flowers were laid, coins thrown for good luck into the depth of the still water.

A pretty li'l girl who had this cute distressed look on her face whilst throwing her chunk of coins.

The statue in the middle of the pool- I forgot its name. Mother Russia in the background- I didn't notice it was slightly blocked by the statue then (bad eyesight. tsk, tsk.)

Isn't this balloon cool. Couldn't find it sold anywhere though.

A girl tracing her fingers along the chiseled wall as she climbed the stairs- she scurried away the instant she saw me though. Anyway, you could see flowers placed amongst the curvatures, which depicted scenes from the war- complete with sound effects to lend the patriotic impact.

The pool at the upper level before the memorial. You could see tulips in motion, slightly blocking Mother Russia. Again. Hehe.

The unobstructed version. The flowers were beautiful.

Red-jacket guy and yellow-blue-jacket guy having a contest on coin-throwing skills. I think the latter won.

SMS-ing whilst on guarding duty. Hmm. Haha. By this time, my sister's camera had gone dead and I began to use Sin Ye's camera.

Mother Russia with wild flowers beneath her feet. Bad lighting, bad weather- could be salvaged by the Photoshop perhaps but I lacked the skill and patience.

A very photogenic boy and his sister (strictly an assumption) posing amongst the wild sea of flowers. I could have gotten a better close-up had the guard not bebel at us for stepping on the grass. Obviously the rule did not apply to children; I forgot I wasn't one anymore.

There were a number of graves of ww2 heroes along the hill leading to its highest point. At any rate, this was the first time I saw someone put soft toys in lieu of flowers on 'em.

A war veteran (look at those medals!) with his wife (again, assumption). On top of the hill.

More veterans. I realised one of my many weaknesses as a photographer- I don't have the guts to approach my subjects; especially since my favourite subjects are people. Often I would end up with banal, half-hearted shots 'cos I was too wimpy to go all out for it in order to obtain the best angle. There was this veteran early on with medals all over his suit but due to my lacking courage, I only had this tame, long-range shot of him with his body somewhat turned to the side. Nice.

Kids could get away with anything, couldn't they.

Sin Ye with a nearby Orthodox church in the background.

Visitors having picnics on the grounds near the church! They ate, sang (mostly folk songs), took pictures- basically having a good time with families. Truly a warm-hearted sight.

Brother and sister plucking flowers from the tree. They looked like twins.

I didn't really post detailed pictures of the place (like the memorial hall, the monuments/statues, etc.), the reason being this was my 7th visit to the place. I was bored of taking the same pictures again and again, so... I had lots of unpublished pics on the place, maybe I'll post 'em one day... one fine day. Hehe.

After the enjoyable excursion, we went to watch a match of our local football league championship (Malaysian students) at Lenin Square before walking all the way to another celebration by the river Volga. I think I'll put up the pictures later, this is way hogging the space. Gomen ne!

ps: I’d also like to wish my uncle, Acu aka Red a happy belated birthday (Sunday, 27th May). He’s my father’s youngest brother and had to layan us a lot when we were younger. Hehe. Amongst my clearest memories of him was teaching me and my sis algebra when I was nine, dangling me over the indoor balcony in our attempt to revive the last scene in Return of The Jedi (him Darth Vader, my brother Luke, and me, as always, dumped to the role of the Emperor), entertaining us with awesome magic tricks, and bullying us into calling him Acu Handsome or Acu Macho whenever we wanted something from him. Hehe. Happy birthday, Acu!

pps: On looking back, this entry is rather a mess, not quite what I fully intended to write. But I feel the need to post one, I've been delaying it for almost a month! Heh. And not to mention my, ehem, trip to Turkey. At this rate, I think I can only resume my travelogue when I'm back in Malaysia, a little over a month from now. Good day, everyone. ;)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Roses are red, violets are blue...

I have been feeling under the weather lately, and by that I don't mean my health. The squeamish helix of student life is rocking the heck out of my boat this time around at an infinite accelerating rate and again, I don't mean homework and tests and stuff. I've become mad as a hatter. I've gone retro and loving origami all over again (made a pigeon last night. Great achievement for starters. Thanks Neemo for lending the book and your help, gonna find lots of coloured papers now). My klutzy spell has subsided, though by no means disappeared- I'm kind of jinxed for life. Truly inspired, the Victory Day celebration on 9th May made me dig out my semi-retired camera from my trinket box, only to find out that the battery's charger was missing. My charmed memory has, yet again, failed me. Aah. And now, out of sheer stupidity, I've got myself a phone stalker. Who says life isn't a bed of roses? Mine is. Only it's quite full of 'em pesky thorns. Rather distressing eh.

Today is Mother's Day, as we all are aware of. I don't think people here celebrate it though, you can find no such cards in the gift shops. To my mother, and every mother elsewhere, may all your love and efforts be bountifully rewarded by Allah, on this day, tomorrow, and the life after.

My mother has always been my source of inspiration, the person I admire most in a whole number of ways. I never truly asked you how on earth you did it, Mak, but giving birth to three kids whilst slogging through med school has got to be one heck of a bundle to juggle, to put it in the mildest sense. It's one thing to be having a 'cool mum', as many would say when they hear the story, but I never really gave it much thought, of the level of sacrifice it took for my mother (and father) to raise us little wrecks. To be carrying around a heavy chunk of lifeform in your belly for the better half of your varsity life, putting up with the nausea, cramps and whatnots, suffering through labour, nursing us, having had to send us to our grandparents for care, taking bus to visit us every weekend, later having to deal with our stubbornness and attachment to our grandparents, and everything beyond, until now... still dealing. Only Allah can repay you rightfully, Mak. I love you very much.

ps: Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been asking whether I've watched Spiderman 3. For the record, I didn't even watch the first two movies. And just so anyone's interested, my favourite superhero would be Batman.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bad Day

There are times when I just can't help but hate myself. Today's a prime example. It began when I spilled hot tea all over my labcoat and pants at our uni cafeteria this morning (and got a good laugh from gedik Russian girls), extended with the graceless knock over our water filter which had the handle smashed to pulp and practically instigated a flood at our doorfront, and ended with dropping my piece of fish for dinner on the tattered carpet. Hey, they don't call me Sofi The Sloppy for nothing now, do they?


ps: And if you happen to remember my room-locker-key-toilet-bowl disaster quite a while ago, I just did something along that line, right after I wrote the above entry. Won't elaborate, too depressing. I'll have this to say though- my day is complete.