May 18th, 2017

Vodka, gold and hava nagila

One of the last times I flew to Moldova for a meeting I went to the ministry straight from the airport for what turned out to be an almost six hour session. The guys picked me up from the ministry afterwards (in the evening) and instead of driving to the village we went to one of our volunteers' place in the capital (where the ministry is) because we had to make some changes to the project documents and send the new versions to the ministry by 7AM next morning (we used his place as our Chisinau 'office' more then once before).

When we arrived we got on our laptops and started working right away. Our host (a young Russian dude, who lives alone) asked me if I wanted some food since I was in the meeting / in the air all day and offered to make us some sandwiches.

Moments later this plate landed on the table next to me "here is your sandwich":

Not quite what I thought it would be. This was a generously buttered slice of bread with a thick layer of fresh salmon roe on top obviously. Turned out his aunt in the village baked fresh bread and made fresh butter that day and brought some for him and his cousin came from somewhere deep in the north-east of Russia and brought him half a bucket of salmon roe. The salmon roe might not look like much but it was incredibly good. I thought that the open sandwich was awesome and I liked it a lot (but then I like and can easily enjoy most of the edible stuff).

When one of the other volunteers (an Israeli guy who was born in Moldova but was taken to Israel when he was 11) who attended the meeting at the ministry with me saw those open sandwiches he got excited, ran to his bag and pulled this out:

A bottle of Kosher "Hava Nagila" vodka. He then looked at us looking all guilty and said "this is for when we are done, guys". What the guys didn't know was that I had one of these (which I bought for fun in Singapore where I took this photo) in my bag:

Russian "Royal Dragon" vodka with 23 carat gold leaf.

It took us about three hours to finish the project docs and send them off and then we killed both bottles (with more of those open sandwiches) and arrived at the village in a cab at dawn.

Do you play lottery?

I know a guy who plays lottery all over the world online all the time. I have never bought a lottery ticket, not even once, not even a scratch card. I buy a tabloid once a month and flip through it and if I find one of those scratch cards that come with the paper there, I just throw them into the bin right away without doing any scratching.

Do you play lottery guys? What kind? And most importantly, did you ever win? How big?

Ready to hike

An Orthodox priest in Mount Athos begins his hike to one of the monasteries.

I took this photo also because of the flag on the jacket of that dude behind the priest of course. He actually was with that priest. I talked to them later at one of the monasteries and they turned out to be Moldovan (but the dude had been living in Italy since he was a kid).

The odds of meeting Moldovans there are actually pretty high because they are one of not that many Europe's Orthodox majority nations and are quite religious too (and it seems to be on the rise there).

Greeks are still the largest group of visitors (Mount Athos is in Greece and it is easier for them to get a permit to visit but they need it too) with the Russians probably being the second largest group (Russia is by far the most populous Orthodox majority country). And then come the Romanians, the Serbians, the Georgians and the rest.

Western Europeans, Americans, Canadians and Australians are not rare too but strangely the percentage of Westerners seems to be higher among the resident monks (quite a lot of them) there than among the visitors.

A lot of things are still relying on the good old scotch tape

This picture of Donald Trump:

reminded me of this picture of his colleague, reality TV star Kim Kardashian:

And made me think again that lot of things are still relying on the good old scotch tape even today.

I also liked how swiftly the Russian LJ bloggers reacted to that picture of Donald Trump and added some more scotch tape where it would definitely be needed way more than on that tie: