Podcasting

I am now listening to some esoteric windchimey free music in preparation for actually doing a Silverlake podcast.

I have found the sheep lady of Silverlake. Her name is Rosa  and I’m so excited to actually have the chance to interview her hopefully next week. She remembered me from my text message and private message on NextDoor.com. Some subjects whom I will interview usually wouldn’t mind a coffee. She welcomes trimmings from your hard (anytime!) for her sheep. I don’t know how much will suffice or exactly how many sheep she has on the hill between where I live with my 87 year old grandfather and the new trendy-for-millennials much anticipated 365 that opened with much hoopla yesterday. She’s also a beekeeper…a new project of hers or one I newly noticed with a homemade sign I saw on her park truck down the hill from where I live.

So my first podcast episode, a rather ambitious undertaking I will admit, will feature an interview with her and an interview with Tales from the Bus’s blogger Katya, a Russian translator based in Los Feliz, on her observations on the future of public transportation in L.A.

Musicians wanting to submit a 30 second sample of their up and coming music are welcome, especially if they live in Silverlake or in the adjacent communities.

 

Projects

I’ve decided to resume several projects I’ve neglected. I have a handwritten travelogue from former Kingdom of Yugoslavia from 1934 that I’ve wanted to have translated and possibly publish it in an academic context.
I would like to pursue my personal interest as well and make a small documentary in the next year as well as organize a monthly discussion group locally. Let’s just say I shall be busy in a good way.

Three cool Happy Hours in Silver Lake

I live in Silver Lake, one of the most hipster neighborhoods in the US. “mid-east” side of Los Angeles is known for its mid-century modern architecture,  and variety of vegan restaurants and boutique shops at Sunset junction. Upon my recent return, I’ve been noticing a few cool happy hours and tried a few out. Here are three of my personal favorite happy hours one can find on a late weekday afternoon after work. It’s also a great way to start a weekend early after work on a Friday.

Hyperion Public

2538 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

(Happy Hour is Monday to Friday from 4-7pm.)

The Happy Hour is not only a steal, but the beer selection, sliders, and overall vibe make this a very appealing place to hang with friends. Who can resist a laid-back place like this? They even have weekly trivia nights!

hip1

(source: LA Times)

Casita del Campo

1920 Hyperion Ave, 90039 Los Angeles

(Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 3-7pm. $2 off appetizers, $1 off well drinks)

This Mexican restaurant has been around for over 50 years and you will soon learn why. I come here for the enchiladas or chicken in mole sauce. They have an enclosed patio that makes dining and drinking al fresco extra appealing.

hip2

Cliff’s Edge

3626 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake

(Happy Hours: Mon-Thurs 6pm-midnight, Friday 6pm-2am)

This is perhaps the most quaint and budget-friendly of the three. Beer is only $3 and there is a daily bartender special.  Thursday nights from 6-7pm they also have an Oyster special, and they won an award for “Best Patio.”

cliff

 

Social Media and Work

Surprisingly, I enjoyed helping some older neighbors in my community embrace social media in their personal job search and figured I could provide a source of help in this way locally.

For the price of a cup of coffee, I would be happy to assist others in their job search and reenergize mine.

I just wanted to put the word out there that if you find yourself flummoxed by job searching, or by social media in general, I’m your gal.

What I have learned as an amateur job seeker

This is my fifth week on the job search and I have learned and received some useful and not useful tips from friends and family alike. Ive been advised to find a job as a travel agent, healthcare interpreter, translator, and even considered teaching English in Israel because of an attractive 10 month fellowship. But, for now, I must stay focused on my own goals and narrow down the job search and yet still keep an open mind. Here are a few of the more helpful suggestions that I have received from friends and my own research.

1.) Develop a Career Action Plan. My friend Alex and I exchanged cover letters, resumes and he showed me his CAP or Career Action Plan. This was pretty  much a no-brainer that gives you a daily, weekly, and monthly agenda in order to stay on top of your goals. He subscribes, like me, to third-party job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and GlassDoor and receives daily and/or weekly alerts on relevant jobs he is qualified for. This is only a small part of his career action plan. The key is to follow up on several companies that you really dig or want to work for. I’ve made an Excel sheet of publications I like to read and would like to pitch articles to and in this spreadsheet, I try to keep it updated with the relevant and current editor’s name, email address, and then types of articles the magazine/newspaper/website specifically wants. Several career blogs have noted that these third party job boards have only a small percentage of jobs available and the real challenge is to penetrate the “hidden job market.”

2.) Learn about the Hidden Job Market Before you start networking and trying to use your various social media accounts in your job hunt, it is best to sit down and brainstorm what your expectations and goals are. Some job seekers who might be over a certain age might be at a disadvantage due to their lack of familiarity with social media, smartphone apps, and other useful tools that could be a great help in finding more job openings. There are ways that you can use Twitter  to find a job to downloading helpful apps.

3.) If you don’t have one, get aSmartphone and cultivate some serious skills.  If you do not have one already, get a functional smartphone with a big enough screen. When I lived in Krakow, the up and coming “Silicon Valley of Central Europe” my past lackluster knowledge of apps and the IT sector cost me dozens of jobs I could have gotten had I educated myself. I learned the hard way that if you want to work in the real world, you have to keep up with it. Thanks to my more knowledgeable friends, I can recommend two affordable alternative smartphones that are worth an investment. If you want a decent camera, abundant storage space, and a stellar Android operating system these two phones are worth every penny.

Option A) Motorola “Moto G” 3rd Generation (approximately $180.00 on Amazon, $196.00 with tax)

This phone is unlocked, is the #1 recommended phone under “new releases” and has an expandable storage space of up to 32 GB and a 13 MP camera. It is also one of the more user-friendly phones out there. If you want a less expensive alternative, an earlier model for just under $90.00.

Option B) OnePlus One with 64 GB of space and 13MP camera. This phone was previously only available by invite but the newer model, the OnePlus Two is invite-only. The battery life is normally alright, but my particular phone has a lemon of a battery. I can attest this does not compromise the overall quality of this model since my friend has one that works beautifully. Overall, this was not a disappointment. The 64 GB sells for $ 380.00 while the 16 GB sells for $320.00.

3.) Learn the The Alphabet of Social Media. I gave an older neighbor a crash course in social media and tips on job searching. She had just ordered a smartphone for herself and did not know how to download apps or optimize them to her advantage. In one day, we got her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other websites. Job applications nowadays ask for everything short of your blood type and food allergies. Some wanted to know if I knew about apps such as Periscope and Meerkat. The most asked-for relevant apps and or social media sites are: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, and sometimes Pinterest.

4.) Know how to detect b.s  To save time, I’ve learned to not open/apply to these kinds of ads:

  •   Ads that are in ALL CAPS
  • with the word “Internship” or “college credit…”
  • with the title/header/description of “social media assistant….”
  • the conjunction of “marketing,” “fundraising” and “telecommute.”
  • “Get paid to write reviews…”
  • Are you allergic/have migraine/___
  • “Loving couple seeking…”
  • “Assistant” and no mention of salary but marketed to college students.
  • Companies that want YOU to pay THEM for “training” or a “deposit” in “materials.”
  • Anything that describes itself as “MLM” or multi-level marketing.
  • Mary Kay/Avon/Greenpeace
  • I can go on….

5.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, social circle, colleagues, and so on. I posted something on LinkedIn and a former classmate from my undergrad whom I had not talked to in years responded saying she might have technical writing assignments for me. You never know who might surprise you! I’ve exchanged resumes with friends, know when to regularly check in with my friends who are my cheerleaders and biggest supporters, and there are people out there whose job it is to help you find a job. I’ve contacted temp agencies, vocational services centers, workforce centers, recruiters, and so forth. I know it’s my fifth week in finding the right job and know people who’ve had a much longer search of over six months so..my last tip is:

6.) Have a gratitude and appreciation diary. Part of the job search is knowing how to deal with hundreds of variations of: “You weren’t the right match,” “Someone was better suited,” “Thank you, but..” I was grateful when a gentleman took it upon himself to write me an actual personalized letter that suggested he actually looked at my resume, liked what I had to offer, and made actual suggestions on how I could better qualify for his company in the future by offering me a free course to further develop my skill set. If you want to have a gratitude diary on a smartphone, then this is for you.

7.) Channel it. Just know, it’s easier to sink into a depression, lose your motivation and morale along the way than it is to keep on going. The challenge is to keep yourself motivated, not lose hope or self-worth. and develop a thicker skin along the way. Many have different ways to channel this angst and tension. My aunt makes her living studying and lecturing on the benefits of meditation. I dabbled in standup comedy earlier this year when I was in a funk. The benefit of being unemployed is that you have more free time than you normally would otherwise, and there are so many cool free things to do. There are free museum days, half-off screenings, happy hour specials, and free yoga classes. It’s also a great time for you right now to further develop skills you have, discover new hobbies, and finish projects you’ve been meaning to get around to. The bottom line is to stay positive and not give up on yourself or your community.

Meet our devilish cat

My family and I acquired a cat through NextDoor.com. A neighbor’s Russian blue had a tryst with the local tom cat and this was the result:

cat2

Her name is Billie Jean and at six months, she is very much a mischievous kitten/teenager. Her hobbies range from jumping on hot stove, chewing up the shoe rack, and attacking feet from her safe position of under the bed. She is blissfully ignorant of the cat that tomorrow she’s getting spayed.

cat1

Two racks done, three more to go. But first, a catnap.

Five Jobs for that very special person

Dear Readers,

It’s been a long time. I just moved back to Los Angeles, my hometown and have joined many in my generation in the great Job Search. My background is rather unconventional. I went to Poland for graduate school, and stayed an extra year to gain experience. Well, I taught English (as a foreign language) for about a year, and after having many adventures in Europe, decided to come back and find more work.

I have made lists, rewritten several dozen cover letters, my resume several times, and met quite a few interesting people in my job interviews. I even did a two day internship in downtown Los Angeles and learned so much in those two days.

Meanwhile, to amuse largely myself and maybe some of you, I’ve made a list of ten interesting “once in a lifetime” jobs I’ve found on Craig’s List and other sources.

  1. Actor/Actress Wanted for the Role of “Manic Zombie” in “Panic Mountain.” Responsibilities range from being able to work weekends crawling around on all four’s, presumably moaning, and scaring the clients. Also, in the advertisement, “Unique or abnormal traits are acceptable for certain roles such as exceptionally tall or short statures, skin modifications, amputees.” In other words, the disabled are welcome. Compensation: 225 dollars for a 28 hours of work. That is below minimum wage (currently now 9/hour in L.A). But lodging is provided! Right, in a cabin with bunkbeds less comfortable than your own bed. If you have leadership skills and want to earn an additional 100/month, you can apply as the “resistance leader.”
  2. “My Cat from Hell” is casting for cat ladies with codependent cats (or the other way around.) You will get 800 dollars to feed your cat plus “consultative services,” is this code for therapy, on camera, where you will be immortalized on late night television? The funny (or sad) thing is I’m tempted to apply. I have a cat who is definitely quirky, and I’m thinking of how many cans of “Fussie Cat” I can get for her with that much money…not to mention some starring roles on television and the silver screen.
  3. “Do you have a secret?” This is probably one of those Jerry Springer-produced shows like Steve Wilkos (yes, I confess I spent/wasted some time watching his program(s) when I was sick in bed once). If you want to tell your husband/wife that you more than tipped the wait staff the other day and get paid for it, be my guest. I hope it’s worth the risk.
  4. If you are older than 75 and in dire need of food, then this is for you. Pros if you like acting in someone’s film school project. Cons if you are a misanthrope.
  5. If you are a pop culture junkie and want to win a hundred grand, then this is for you.

The art and science of culling and letting go

I love the word culling. It can mean the art of letting go. Sorting. Tidying. Deciding which things you keep and which ones you let go. 

I used to have a lot of clothes. I’ve learned to give away or donate most of the ones that I outgrew in style or size or that were just not in fashion anymore. As for things, I’m pretty simple when it comes to jewelry. I have the Moroccan silver ring that I selected and that my mother bought for me when I was 14. I have the amber necklace that I wear every day that a family friend bought me for Christmas and I have a pearl ring from Macedonia and a funky handmade ring I bought in Odessa, Ukraine. And I have my mother’s pearl necklace she wore on her wedding day.

The most prized possession I have of my mother is a framed photo of us together on Children’s Tidepool in La Jolla Shores right around the time the sea lions came and reclaimed their territory and this children’s’ pool became a birthing and resting spot for San Diego’s sea lions.

In the photo I wear black and white striped leggings and a toothy grin. This is years before she became sick and back when she had her trademark low-lighted auburn curly-wavy hair at shoulder length. We are both crouching next to each other and this is back when you could get as close as an arm length’s distance from the seals. If we wanted to, we could very easily had touched these majestic creatures. Now a days, these marine mammals are roped off and if you get so much as thirty feet away, an environmental activist with a loudspeaker will yell at you.

My mother and I would visit La Jolla and San Diego every year and stay with my grandfather or when my mother found a good deal, we would stay one night at either the Pink Lady or the Del. I loved San Diego so much. The air was cleaner, the beaches prettier and everyone seemed more relaxed and laid-back. In fact, I liked it so much that I went to undergrad here as well at UCSD.

During my first semester at university, when my mother was dying of lung cancer, the kind that killed the late Dana Reeve. And no she did not smoke. It seemed wholly unfair. My mother did air force exercises reinterpreted for ladies and went on two long strenuous walks in the hills twice a day. She did crunches, push-ups (the man kind), and lifted 10 lb. weights. She was buff, always had a tan, and knew how to enjoy life. She liked to go to movies, TV-related press conferences, played ping pong with me at posh parties, and did a whole day at the beach prepared. We would picnic with lawn chairs, big umbrellas and avocado or peanut butter sandwiches, melon, and lots of fruit available. For dessert, we would end the day by sharing a ginormous slice of either strawberry shortcake or key lime pie at Gladstone’s in Malibu.

  These are memories I hold on to. What I have left of her physically are the cremated ashes of our family dog Linda, the black and white terrier she surprised me with one summer day in 1996. The geraniums she watered every day on our back porch. Her many boxes and boxes of writing from yellowed newspaper articles she published in the 1970’s until blog posts/articles she wrote within days of her death in March 2007. I have scrapbooks and photo albums. Her purse(s). Her black winter coat she bought for a trip to London in 2003. Her collection of coins that I keep with me wherever I am. Funky dress-up jewelry she collected as a fashion writer in the 1980’s. Delicate scarves I always pack with me but never use. Purple suede lace up go-go boots from her college days. The rocking chair that I remember her reading to me on. Quirky artistic reproductions that she inherited from her gay fashion designer friend who passed away less than two years later she did.

The last conversation I had with him was about a cat I had been fostering at the time. He seemed mildly interested in adopting it but was still getting over his other cat named Brrrr. 

His death was unexpected. 

The last 7 years have been difficult. One of my mother’s friends was right in that her upcoming death would mess me up. At the time, I refused to believe and just wanted to get to the hospital in time to say goodbye. I was preparing for my exams week towards the end of fall semester and got a phone call while in the library from her friend. I knew in my gut that something had happened. She was in the hospital and not altogether conscious. I had to go home right away. The details are a blur but I remember throwing together stuff in a suitcase, a friend giving me a lift to the train station and me waiting in an annoyingly long line to buy a one way ticket home to LA. I was familiar with this station, Solana Beach. I was a regular and Cathy, the ticket agent was familiar with why I was going home every single weekend. She could tell this time that things had taken a turn for the worse and immediately bumped me up to first class, a gesture I remember and appreciate to this day. 

     My mother’s friends picked me up at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and whisked me across rush-hour traffic (mind you this was a Sunday, March 18) to get to Cedar’s on time. Well, my mother could sense I was rushing and she ultimately passed away three days later on Wednesday, March 21, ironically the first day of spring and the first real sunny day that week. It was eerie and and symbolic at the same time.

My mother was the one who taught me the art of letting go. She could not speak due to her condition but in her last moment of consciousness, she hugged me one last time. I cannot write more about this for personal reasons.

Her clothes were matronly and in different sizes. She had lost and gained weight dramatically over the nearly five years she struggled with this disease. When she was in remission and in better health, she had a hearty warmth about her and wore overalls. When things were bad, she was thin and fit into my size 4 clothes.

   Giving away and donating her clothes and calling for things to be donated to her favorite charities in lieu of flowers were what she would have wanted.

Not accumulating stuff and constant culling of my wardrobe and material goods were habits I especially adopted after her death. Maybe it’s a fear of “What if I die tomorrow?” What is the significance of my things? I do most of my writing and work cyberly like most people nowadays and the most delicate items I have collected and hold on to are for what I imagine to be my future home.

But that then begs the question on what  is home. I hate the cliche “home is where the heart is.” But what if your heart belongs to too many people and places? To make my home more homey, the few aesthetic items I try to bring with me are

1) Candle holders that my mother painted with me at a family event over 15 years ago

2) the Menorah that my mother used to celebrate the holidays with me 

3) framed photograph of my mother and I

4) the slightly frayed poster of Pulp Fiction that once hung in my father’s office on Wilshire Blvd. It brings back memories of me visiting him in his two room office and him generously giving me a few Walkers biscuits out of his several tins.

5) my Bosnian coffeepot and Armenian coffee set and other tiny souvenirs from my travels. 

6) my favorite antique books 

When it comes to material objects, my clothes are the first and easiest thing to get rid of. Of course I always hold on to and keep the green African tribal handmade dress my friend Mercy gave me. Or the yellow strapless dress I wore to my friend Jenny’s wedding. 

After losing someone, it is too easy to gain perspective. At the end of the day, can you take your dresses with you to the great beyond? 

 

 

Safe in Kyiv

The United States Department of State has increased the security alert for Odessa and it is now on the same level as Kharkiv. A local British expat blogger who has lived in Odessa for a decade predicted there might be a demonstration between 6 August and 15 August and it would happen within the same week as events in the east and thus would be coordinated  as to show the Ukrainian government and the West that they cannot a) cannot be everywhere at once, and b) can demonstrate just “because they can.”

   Despite the looming threat of an upcoming military draft, both Odessa and Kyiv seemed relatively calm considering. People ate out, strolled down the streets and carried on as usual. But what can you do? These cities have running water and electricity unlike Lugiansk right now. The UN has called the humanitarian situation in Ukraine’s east as worsening dramatically.

Meanwhile, drunks and drug addicts are conscripted in the east as a form of “punishment brigades.” The Guardian has an article suggesting that there are “increased mutterings for a new Maidan.” I wonder who Mr. Walker talked to but in the people I’ve chatted with on the train, street and around town, yes there is a weariness but I doubt there will be another Maidan. Several locals are even getting tired of Poroshenko. The local Odessa expat blogger said that while he is one who says what he means, and is passionate, the question of whether he can deliver what he promises is another. For example, there is hope that the war will be over by 24 August, Ukrainian Independence Day and Donetsk will be liberated. But realistically, whether that may seen to be true is whole other ballgame.

Another question that may be raised in the future is what will happen to the Maidan where EuroMaidan took place? Right now, it serves as a tourist attraction/open-air museum/homage to Euromaidan/memorial site and open market for related souvenirs. It is a museum in this respect but when the conflict calms down, will the local city government establish a museum devoted to Euromaidan and use parts of what is currently on display? The sponsors  of some of the photo exhibits are the Fulbright Foundation and the Ukrainian Women’s Fund.

Now the Maidan looks like this:

euromaidan1

euromaidan2

euromaidan3

euromaidan4

I found this one eerie in an ironic way:

mothercare

Note the Mothercare shop (part of a three-story mall) surrounded by the wreckage of Euromaidan and the wall of tires on the left. One could interpret this as a motif that motherhood is a battlefield, as is life.

And some people refuse to let the conflict get in their way of pursuing love. I met a couple at the hostel where I stayed last night. The man appears to be in his late 20’s/early 30’s and is an American from Chicago-area. He had long dark hair, was quite slim and seemed like a free-spirited soul one would meet at a yoga retreat. His bride-to-be was a Ukrainian lady in her mid to late 30’s from Lugiansk region and they were planning on going back to the east to wait until they could get married. When I asked if they had plans to stay in Ukraine or America, the guy, named Ryan answered that for now they’re staying in Ukraine because he doesn’t want his wife to be a foreigner just yet. They had been dating for 11 years and the premises of how they met was “a long story.” His wife spoke very little English but understood a little bit. His Russian was maybe half a level better. And yet, despite that, the two did not seem to have any problems communicate.  Body language and speaking a kindergarten level of each other’s language was more than enough for them. Love was the answer. When the lady, Natalia learned that I was American, her eyes lit up and she responded that her “muzhh” or “man” was also American and insisted that I meet him. The way her eyes sparkled and her pride of her enduring decade-long partnership was impressive. They didn’t seem to like Kyiv all too much and are returning to Lugiansk any day now. 

Odessa, a new discovered world

I’ve been in Odessa since Friday, August 1. As my friend Michael put it, I woke up in Tbilisi, flew into Kiev where I had lunch at the well known Ukrainian chain Puzata Hata, and took the 3pm train to Odessa where I arrived at 11pm. Michael was supposed to meet me at the train station at around 11pm but because he missed the bus coming from Moldova (Chisinau)  he couldn’t make it until 11.40pm. My smartphone had died (the outlets on the train did not work) so I decided to wait there until he showed up. Curious to see how much the taxis would charge for 3 kilometers to the hotel, I tried to ask in my awkward Russian. Tired, I thought they were quoting me 700 HRN or 55 dollars. I saw a local militia and asked him if that was right. He said it was a fair price and that if I didn’t like it I should just walk the rest of the way. I later found out when Michael and I went to a shop and the kind shop owner called a taxi, that it was really 70 UHN not 700 and that I was making the same mistake again, mistaking my tens for hundreds linguistically and that I came across as a cheapskate to Ukrainian standards…thinking 4 dollars was too much to pay a driver to lug my suitcase, backgammon board, and backpack 3 kilometers. I was not surprised in retrospect when these militiamen first asked to see my passport. They probably wanted to know not what country I was from, but what planet I thought I lived on.

 

  We arrived at our accommodation and after some much needed beer and rest, started the day Saturday with a walking tour. Last summer our guide Yuriy gave 120 tours. This summer, we were only his third tour and the summer is more than half gone. He was not the first one nor the last one to be surprised and baffled as to what brought us to Odessa during the conflicts and possible war. It was a long story, but basically I was supposed to go to Konotop, Ukraine to visit a friend but that friend and I had a falling out and I was left with a one-way ticket from Tbilisi to Kiev. Instead of crying over spilt milk, I decided to keep my ticket and meet my friend Michael in Odessa instead of Kiev because Odessa has always been in my top five cities to visit one day. And he found hostel prices at a 5 star hotel so the rest is history. There are a few things to note about Michael. One, he’s Australian and thus was born with an innate love to travel. Two, he’s extremely frugal in an ingenious way which means he travels more than a spy or secret agent. This month, Ukraine, next month Poland and the Carpathians, October Italy and November Lebanon. And he’s already met me in Poland on his way to Israel, took a fourth trip to Georgia (the country) and we did have a week long tour of Belarus during the hockey championships. So you get the picture. We both have a love and fascination with former Soviet and Eastern European countries so that’s how we both met up in Ukraine. As for myself, my maternal great-great grandmother a Gitl Tsipperbrun (Brown Bird in Yiddish) was originally from here. According to her husband’s family story, he took the train from Dnepropetrovsk (formerly Yekaterinoslav) to meet her. She loved her Odessa and was proud of this cosmopolitan city and told her children and grandchildren on summers swimming in the Black Sea, going to the opera, and how wonderfully multicultural this town was (and still is).

 

  I soon saw for myself the beauty my ancestor saw in this place. The balmy summer evenings one can see many locals and Ukrainians walking in pristine breathtakingly marvelous parks surrounding the supposedly  most beautiful opera house in the world. The tree-lined streets are occupied by cafes. Sushi bars are in vogue as are night clubs and elegantly dressed ladies. The beach Lanzheron was packed and had sandy shores a nice contrast to the stony shores of Batumi where I was a week earlier with another friend.

 

I love bazaars and markets because it’s how you really get a feel of the place. It’s heaven for people watching. I went there to buy certain Georgian and Central Asian spices for friends back in Poland and we encountered quite a few Georgians who weren’t just Georgian but a minority from within Georgia: Mingrelians.

mingreliansatmarket

This lady was selling Churchkhela a Georgian fruit snack that is basically nuts soaked in fruit juices. Michael bought the ones soaked in kiwi but after I recited a Mingrelian tongue twister that my friend Tina’s parents had taught me that probably sounded like this; the lady refused to charge us. It turned out that she and her two friends were Mingrelians and they weren’t the last ones we ran into in Odessa that day. My friend Tina is Mingrelian and after meeting some of her family and other Mingrelians around Tbilisi, she taught me how to tell if one is Mingrelian or not. Maybe it’s body language or features that this group shares but this group, closely related to the Laz minority in Western Georgia/Eastern Turkey is immensely proud of their heritage as they should be. My friend speaks probably as much Mingrelian or understands as much of it as I would understand Yiddish or Hebrew expressions. It’s her parents and my great-grandparents’ generation that can/could have spoken these respective languages fluently. 

 

We went the above stand at the famous market called Privoznaya. The market was the perfect site for people-watching and spice shopping. I not only met Georgians there but we chat with Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Persians there too.

uzbekspices

The spices were endless. They ranged from Georgian ones such as khmeli-suneli, adjika, Svanetian salt, to more Central Asian ones such as barberry, coriander, and custom-made mixes for manti and plov.

spice2

spice3

Going to open air markets in foreign countries never ceases to fascinate and excite me. When I was in Tbilisi, the people were just as friendly and lovely.

tbilisimarket

 

It was too easy to spend all day in the Privoz market where we sat and drank some Bessarabian wine and sampled the local nectarines. We stopped at a cafe along the way where the owner was too happy to practice his English and refused to speak any Russian with me. A foreigner coming into his bookstore/cafe on a Sunday afternoon was probably a big surprise. His cafe was not even in the touristy parts.

He was born in Sloviansk which I found out while admiring the Turkish copper and clay coffee pots. He pointed out that these were all made from Sloviansk which was famous for their clay craftsmanship and nearby rivers and nature, which no one would know normally because now his hometown is known for being part of the conflict zone. This young man’s name was Eugene or Evgeniy and he moved to Odessa when he was just a month old and thus considered himself more of an Odessan than anything else but still took pride in his birthplace.

Odessa is known for its opera house, the Potemkin steps made globally famous by the baby carriage scene from Sergei Eistenstein’s Battleship Potemkin

 

 

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