Monday, September 13, 2010

Commie in Finland

Read Inna Latisheva's Ryssänä Suomessa. The name of the book translates as "Russian in Finland", except that the word she uses for Russian is a slur - there is no exact translation for it in English.

The book is ostensibly about how hard it is to live as a foreigner in a place where your country of origin is not well-liked. She does have a point - being such a foreigner in such a place does have its problems, and Russia is not well-liked here, but she often brings this into the realm of ridiculous, claiming for example that company A was a nice place to work in because it was really a Swedish company, and company B was a nasty place because it was a Finnish one.

Most of the book is the story of a woman who was unhappily married and decided to extrapolate her feelings towards her ex-husband to the country.

The story of her life in Finland is not what caught my attention, though. It was the story of who and what she was before. Most every sentence made me think she was lying.

The woman was born in 1955 in Baku and raised in Leningrad. She then starts describing herself as a sweet and innocent girl who believed in her country and the party. Well. I always knew where must have been somebody who believed in that shit.

She got a degree from the propaganda department of Marxism-Leninism university, another one from a real university (she doesn't say which, but apparently a degree in some language or languages), taught languages in the Military academy, and worked as an Intourist guide. Right. Sorry, but this CV doesn't say "an innocent young girl who loved her country and trusted her government". It says "an extremely cynical career KGB weasel" or, in some cases "an extremely cynical career commie weasel whom KGB didn't bother to hire".

At the same time she describes how she was dreaming of bagging herself a foreigner and moving abroad, and also what kind of things she was and wasn't allowed to say to the tourists. Her jumping from "I thought it was so wonderful, I didn't know anything better" to "I knew about everything bad but had to keep quiet" and back are almost endearing. Seriously. If we are talking about 1980, even I knew better, and I was 9.

OK, anyway, the innocent patriotic girl by some accident went to study in a place no decent person would have touched with a 10-foot pole and acquired a job known to provide access to under-the-table money and foreign husbands. Only then her innocent eyes started to open to the fact that there is more money in the West and that her job does indeed provide the opportunity for meeting foreign men.

Well, she met hers. He was tall, handsome, intelligent and foreign, and married to a friend of hers. That last detail didn't bother her, because she remembered Julius Caesar's words "I came, I saw, I conquered". After coming with her to Finland the man brought her to a couple of parties, and she was wondering - and upset - about why the married man does not introduce her as his fiancee at a party attended by his wife and her friends.

Anyway, he did get divorced and they did get married and he didn't turn out to be a very good husband and she thinks that this happened because Finns don't like Russians.

The book has a happy ending, she moved to Spain and is happy there. We'll see if there is a sequel in 20 years.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

RIP Claude Chabrol

Claude Chabrol has died today.

The obituaries will probably say that "one of the most important directors of the French New Wave", etc., etc., but I have never really understood what the New Wave was all about, or rather what its different directors had in common. This one, though, I actually like. Quite a lot. He was really good in creating a certain sort of suspense.

Oh well. If there is a heaven, they are gonna have really good suspense thrillers there real soon. Since we aren't there, I really recommend his movies that I am sure Orion will be showing pretty soon to honor his memory.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I ain't dead

Lot's of work, a trip to Tallinn, a major root canal problem, and desperate attempts to clean my place and catch up on sleep and workouts have interfered with blogging.

Anyway the Tallinn pics are here, catching up on sleep is so-so, work is ok, and as for cleaning my place - the friend who is coming over once said that if she ever sees my place cleaned, she is gonna start getting ready for the end of the world. I can't scare her, now can I?

Anyway, life is reasonably nice, Berlin Zero rocks, my throat is sore but not too much, is my gum, I've been to a really great crayfish party, and life goes on. Planning a couple of vacations, a game, cleaning my place (eventually) and going to bed (also eventually).