Megapolis of a Different Kind (The Fields of Bliznatsi)

Content advisory 16+ Walking in the valley this morning with Poppy and Casper, we came across a dead forest dog. They are small creatures and you could not describe them as beautiful -- they seem almost deformed and probably lead lives of great deprivation at certain times of the year. At night, they set up a great plaintive howl in unison, and it seems they are creeping closer to our … Read the rest

The Rape Culture

Content advisory 18+ RAPE. Such a strong implicating degrading action with grave consequences, but a word used almost casually and thoughtlessly. So many renowned public figures throw out comments which not only makes light of the gravity of the action but also sends out a wrong message to the people who look up to them.

adult alone black and white 551588_result

Rape is such a common occurrence nowadays and people don’t even blink an eye … Read the rest

Soap Operas and Redneck Morality Plays

Content advisory 18+ Have you noticed that when one couple or family invites other couples or families as guests, they try to present a positive image? It doesn't always work out that way -- sometimes the grim and gritty truth of mounting disaffection spills out spectacularly over the dinner table and someone (usually female) flees the room in "flood of tears" (to use the British expression). But usually, the hosts … Read the rest

Enough! Or The Final Song

Enough is enough. Let`s stop speaking about 4% a year inflation when the real price growth is 1.6% a month. Let`s stop speaking about safety when the murder rate is 11.31 per 100 000, that is between Surinam, Botswana and Papua New Guinea (where the rate is lower) and Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica (where the rate is higher). Just stop it.

charts computer data 669615_result

(I had the most read post in our Read the rest

India’s Daughters; An Overview

Content advisory 18+ Being a woman is not easy. Being a woman in India is even tougher. Invariably, you are going to be subjected to so much discrimination since birth, that it eventually becomes the norm.

beautiful child flower 220427_result

Discrimination starts even before you are born. Pregnant women are made to undergo antenatal check-ups not to detect fetal abnormalities, but to find out the gender of the baby. And if it’s a girl, … Read the rest

A Long Night’s Journey Into Day

Content advisory 18+ F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of "The Great Gatsby") was, like many artists, an unstable person and drunkard. He was never among my favorite authors; nevertheless, amid his many collapses and psychological crack-ups (having Hemingway as a 'friend' probably didn't help), he came up with a single line I always remember. He said: "In a real dark night of the soul, it is always 3 o'clock in the … Read the rest

The Narrow Road to the Far North

Content advisory 16+ I was having a spirited conversation today, early, with a really bright man -- he was frying breakfast eggs while talking with me on Skype (the ONLY way to eat breakfast !) -- about the best way to go about living one's life.

beans bread breakfast 103124_result

Of course, the thing about this very bright man (aged 47 and me -- a stout 69 as of today, 8 May--) is that … Read the rest

Victory Day Among the Spoils

Content advisory 18+ Thinking to write about the up-and-coming "Victory Day" in Russia on 9 May (the whole world celebrates it today, 8th May - Artem), I decided to consult Artem regarding the wisdom of saying ANYTHING negative. And since I am not one to mince words whatever the subject, this was quite a concession for me to make.

clove flower plant 73216 glitched 08 05 2018 14 12 52_result

The reason for my indecisiveness stems from the enormous … Read the rest

Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo

Content advisory 18+ I used to believe that the world of “surfaces” which we usually navigate is a false world -- a superficial icing on a cake of deep and interwoven ingredients. I used to think that, in order to maximize my experience of life, I had to somehow “get to the bottom of it” -- as my old English teachers would have us plumb the depths of this or … Read the rest

How Not To Waste Your Life

Content advisory 18+ In America, guys approaching or just past 40 (In Russia it is 30, according to my friends) are always having what is known as "the mid-life crisis". I never had it because I never grew up and never wanted to deal with anything as boring as 'adult responsibilities'. Well, I jest, but maybe it says something about me that for my last Happy New Year gifts, I … Read the rest

JUST SAY NO ! (to drugs and thugs)

Content advisory 18+ When I used to write a lot for SNOB (a once-promising project that I came to by chance in 2009 or '10), they always wanted me to present the point of view of a foreigner who had been in Russia for a while. Not as some guy who just got off the boat (there are no boats) and looking for polar bears in Red Square, or who … Read the rest

The Dawns and Twilights of Offices

“What did I know, what did I know
Of love’s austere and lonely offices?”
Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays

Content advisory 18+ Somehow I found myself reading ancient Chinese poetry translated into English. This was years ago. The other day I tried to relocate some of those verses, but not a chance. There is plenty of ancient Chinese poetry to be had, but not the ones I remembered.

beverage books contemporary 904616_result  Here is … Read the rest

Don’t worry, It’s coming to Your town soon!

Content advisory 16+ Back in the days when bottled water first appeared en masse in America, I recall that a lot of people just shook their heads and mused: "What will be next? They'll start selling us air?" And everyone would nod in amusement at such a preposterous notion.

adult air beautiful 321576_result

Well, muse and smile and nod no more. IT'S HERE !! So, today, as a follow-up to my blog posted Friday … Read the rest

Противостояние будущего c прошлым

Content advisory 14+ Есть на Земле люди, которые смело берутся за воплощение, казалось бы, абсолютно фантастических идей, заставляя даже убежденных скептиков пересмотреть свои пессимистические взгляды. Новаторы разрушают грани возможного и невозможного, делают мир комфортнее и шире. И все для того, чтобы в любой географической точке: от Гренландии до Антарктиды, от мыса Рока до мыса Дежнева – все имели доступ к новым возможностям. К примеру, представьте, что будет, если на планете … Read the rest

“Hey Guy, Anything to Drink Around Here?”

Content advisory 16+ I recently dug up some interesting texts to prompt my students with, and one of them was called "Bottled Water: The Marketing Trick of the Century." The title pretty much says it all, and the article went on to support some suspicions I have held for a long time. Basically, it attacked the premise of plastic containers full of H2O and sold to the public as representing … Read the rest

Where Torches Burn

Content advisory 18+ The other day a friend of mine was trying to explain something during a lesson we were having on Skype. He is a 49-year-old Russian businessman who used to live in America. He is very pro-American, or, shall I say, pro-West, in terms of what he considers its more highly evolved way of life. BUT he is Russian at heart, which I can only explain (to myself … Read the rest

The Summer of ‘18’

Content advisory 18+ When I think about the two great wars of the 20th century, my memory is of course fed by all the ghastly footage that is on hand to help us relive the horrors. As most of this documentary stuff is cast in film noir style black and white, the effect is even more sinister than it would be otherwise. Soldiers frozen in paralytic agony as bullets rip … Read the rest

The Good Old Days

Content advisory 18+ What differences are there between friendships that are mostly face-to-face and those that are mostly online?"

So ran one of the questions in a student book that formed the basis of my Skype lesson this morning with a fellow named Roman, who has studied with me since 2009. He was Pre-Intermediate then, and now we have gone through five or six Advanced level books together. Most of … Read the rest

The Dark Side of Cyberspace

Age advisory 18+ I have a new friend in a nearby village called Priseltsi (Bulgaria) who has a successful business in Varna selling very stylish and often flamboyant hats. The hats are actually made in Priseltsi and sold in Varna. Theater groups use her work as well as individuals. Both my wife and I are proud owners of one hat apiece. Mine is a white cowboy hat and Liuba's looks … Read the rest

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Content advisory 18+ The great old Englishman Samuel Johnson of the 18th century (back when Englishmen were worthy of the name) once declared that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."


It is hard for me to know if that statement is comprehensible to all of my readers, so, without meaning to be patronizing, let me break it down. It means, basically, that when an individual has forfeited, through … Read the rest