Saturday, April 04, 2009

Flashback Friday: Russian mini flashbacks

Sometimes when I'm thinking about which story to tell for Flashback Friday, I come up with little mini flashbacks that aren't enough to be a whole post all on their own, but are still interesting little tidbits. Today I'm lumping a few of those together for a Russian edition of mini flashbacks. Enjoy!

The Mormon Church with the gold balls on the wall.
While we were living in Moscow, we attended a Russian branch. Halfway through our time there, the Church acquired a rented apartment to use as a meetinghouse. Until that time, however, we were stuck meeting in a community cultural center and the main room looked like this:

Ah, yes. Nothing is more conducive to reverent Sunday worship than lime green velvet curtains (with matching piano cover) and shiny gold balls on the wall. I think the worst part of this arrangement was actually the risque photos of previous entertainment events that were hanging all over the foyer. Which is also where the youth meetings were held. Awkward.

Another interesting fact about the Mormon congregations in Moscow is that they were organized not by strict geographical area but by metro line. Everyone who lived along a spoke of the metro line (you can see a map of it here) belonged to the same congregation. It actually worked quite well.

Thrillers are scarier when you watch them in incomprehensible Russian.

We had been in Moscow for only a week or two when we went to see The Others at a local movie theater. I don't know if we knew ahead of time that it was dubbed over in Russian, but it was, and I spoke hardly a word of it at that time. But with a movie like The Others, it actually just made the experience even creepier for me. This movie is also where I learned how to say "What happened?!?" in Russian, as well as "Sooner or later, they will find you." Useful stuff.

My Russian factory worker self.
We already know what I would have looked like as a member of the Young Pioneers of the Soviet Union. Now I bring you Jeremy and myself as Russian factory workers:

We went on an embassy-sponsored excursion to a local sweet-making factory and they made us wear these ridiculous getups for the whole tour. Maybe it was their chance to laugh at the Americans, or maybe it was actual protocol, since all the factory employees were wearing them, too. Regardless, we came home from the tour with two bags full of free cookies and cakes - enough to make me never want to eat vanilla wafer cookies ever again.

You may remember Moscow from such movies as The Saint.

If that building in the background looks familiar, it's because you were paying attention while watching The Saint. I think in that movie it's the headquarters of the bad guys' oil company. In real life, it's a hotel called Ukraina, and it was right across the river from where we lived. Also in real life, as opposed to in The Saint, you could never get into the US Embassy in Moscow just by running toward the gates while screaming "I'm an American!" even if you're Elizabeth Shue, and even if bad guys are chasing you. It just wouldn't happen - you have to have badges and things.

I hope these mini flashbacks are sufficient to fill your Flashback Friday quota for today. I have more of them, but I'll save them for another time. Until then!


Susanne said...

I *love* stuff like this! Thanks so much for sharing!

LOVE the worship center...ha, ha.

Liz Johnson said...

I love it!

I also love "The Saint." Realistic or not, I love that movie. :)

Chris said...

I liked your stories, but as I was reading I saw the pictures on the left and I just wasted a half hour flipping through them all and remembering how much more fun I had in Israel than I am having right now.
Ha ha. Do you remember when that bird hit the big window of the BYU center during sacrament meeting and died? Anna is still traumatized by that. About two weeks ago she wanted to buy a bunch of those bird silhouette stickers and mail them to the center so they won't kill any more birds.

Nancy said...

Ah, Russia. :) So many great things.

sarah said...

very interesting! i like the gold balls :) and the last picture is very cool. i love the saint too!


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