Monday, March 8, 2010

3/7 St Petersburg: Leonid's 60th birthday jubilee

Woke up 1 pm, trying to recover from a late night out. This was one of the smartest things I've done all trip. I think I enjoy seeing the insides of my eyelids more than almost anything else in the world.

Sunday was Leonid's 60th birthday jubilee. There was too much happening there to possibly describe it in a blog post, so I will mention some of the quirky occurrences.

Dressed up on my new tailored Chinese suit. Olga kept pestering me to put on a gag tie, but I so wanted to try my new purple tie-cufflink-handkerchief set. I looked smashing :)

There were well over 100 guests in attendance. Many I had never met before, but had heard of through one story or another. Some I had met once or twice in my visits to Russia over the past decade. All of which were reluctant to introduce themselves for some reason. The cocktail hour went something like this:

Olga> This is my husband Dave
Guest> Yes I know Dave, we've met before!
Me> (awkward pause)

Still it's fun trying to find something in common to talk about, yet not tip our hand that we didn't know who they were, and frequently when we didn't speak the same languages. For those who are intent on finding a common language, there are several tricks. You can use gestures: somebody was trying to explain to me that his grandfather died of alcoholism. In Russia, there is a gesture where you flick your jaw to signify drinking. There are famous names, for example Picasso means they are a painter, Dzhorzh Kluney means they are an actor, etc. There are words in common: sport, cine, musica, vino, vodka, toilet, aftobus, computer, park. All of these strategies come into play when mingling at a jubilee in St Petersburg.

The central motif of the evening was the thread of musical performances from Leonid, cousin Masha, brother Konstantin, many of the guests, leading up to a reunion of Leonid's youth band The Green Ants.

Leonid has friends from every possible occupation and interest: composers and military contacts and businessmen and doctors and artists and teachers airplane engineers and opera singers and translators and editors and theatre directors and librarians and mathematicians and architects. Leonid seems to value his life based on the diversity of his friends -- and how he has connected them to help each other. Based on what I have seen at this party, Leonid's life is very rich.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Sounds wonderful! And wow, look at that Chinese suit! That's hot.