Monday, 16 January 2012


Last night the school where I'm working held a New Year party for the staff. Fortuitous for me, 'cos it meant that I got to meet most of the people who work there in one go. It was fun, and I had some good chats with people about movies (I found out about an "art house" cinema here that shows movies out of the mainstream), about being a foreigner in Odessa, about the Ukrainian equivalent of a PhD (one of the teachers is embarking on hers just now), and so on. Everyone was very welcoming.

I was rather relieved when the attempt by the restaurant to encourage us to take up the karaoke facility they offered was resoundingly ignored by our party! I've failed to understand the attraction of karaoke ever since I first came across it in Tokyo in 1985 - well before it caught on outside Japan. But then perhaps that's just because I sing so badly! :( Having said that, I do remember the end of a splendid evening there with some Japanese guys, all of us completely rat-arsed, barely able to stand, who insisted on singing "My Way" etc. in wonderfully incoherent and quite incomprehensible fashion! A quite unique experience at the time.

Back to last night, where I was very impressed by the daughter (about 10 or 11, I think) of one of the teachers, the only child present, who showed us the moves she'd been learning recently at her dance class - this involved her effectively commandeering both the sound system, by getting the dj to play the specific pieces of music she needed, and the floor space in the middle of the restaurant, where she went through her routines, entirely on her own, with great skill and panache. She dealt with those hiatuses in the routines, where others in the group would have featured, by simply standing and counting through the music, without a trace of self-consciousness, until it was her turn to dance again. I confess to envying her complete insouciance. Her mum, who appeared a little abashed by her daughter's utter certainty that centre stage was her rightful place, told me she had suggested that perhaps she not go through all the dance routines, because that might not be so interesting for everyone else there; to which her daughter's response had been to conduct a poll amongst us all, asking if we wanted to watch her dance or not! Needless to say, we did. I think it's fair to say that centre stage was in fact her rightful place - both in terms of her dancing, which was very accomplished, and her winning the "more front than Blackpool" award for the evening!

I was rather inactive on the photo front, being more involved in talking and spectating, but here are a couple of pics of me in charming company. First with Sabine, who's from Latvia
and second with Elena, who's Ukrainian
They both teach English at the school. I sat in on several of Elena's classes last week, as part of my "familiarization" process.

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