Category Archives: Culture as I experience it

When you think you've seen it all…

something happens to change that opinion. I am not a novice at living in the former Soviet Union. I have seen much, much more than I should probably talk about. Yet, this week I saw something that shocked me.

I was walking down a sidewalk that I have been on many times since moving to Karaganda. I have seen many beggars in this area and there is one particular spot they seem to like to congregate.

Well, at this time, there happened to be a gypsy (someone told me they are actually not gypsies, but a group of beggars from Turkey) holding her baby. As people would pass by she would speak something that was unintelligible for me as it wasn’t Russian.

As I approached her I felt the need to speak to her, so I was slowing down to kneel when I noticed that one of her breast was uncovered and her baby was having lunch at that moment. Needless to say, I picked up my pace as I had already seen more than I needed to see. Oh, well, maybe next time.


Never heard of this celebration? Why not? It says that it is International.

Well, this celebration takes place on March 8 every year in parts of Europe and Asia. It honors women, whether married or not.

Today, I was in the local shopping center and it was packed with shoppers. Many of the perfume and soap stores had packaged their wares in special baskets with bows.

It was neat to see people so happy and excited about the holiday. The down side is that I was in the grocery store. The small store near my home has 8 short aisles and of those 2 are usually full of alcohol. Well, most of the aisles with alcohol were nearly empty. Not that I was looking, but as I headed to the checkout, one lady commented to the security guy about the lack of vodka. She laughed attributing it to all the celebrations of IWD.

Well, virtually everything will be closed Monday and Tuesday in honor of the celebration.

To all you women reading this, HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!!! I wonder if I could find an e-card on the American Greetings site…?

Valentine's Love is in the Air

I walked to the local “mall” this evening just to people watch. It’s interesting to see that as each year passes, the people here adopt more of our “western” holidays. Of course they also continue to recognize their own holidays (many held over from Communism or Orthodoxy), so it is one BIG holiday here!

When I lived in Lugansk from 1994-96, they hardly knew what Valentine’s Day was. Now they are celebrating it! The little shopping center had several plastic hearts floating in its fountain and streamers of red were hanging along with hearts of all sizes.

Across the street is the Central Department Store where a large banner hung from the roof reminding loved ones to not forget February 14th as the Day for Lovers.

Love truly is in the air. Happy Valentine’s Day!