Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Check-in. What's in it for you?

Would you know the difference between a hotel and a guest house? One may think the size, the price, the room service. Well, that too, though you would know it the moment you set your foot in the building.

In a hotel you are greeted by a concierge, by a reception clerk, anyways, by a person trained to welcome guests. In a guest house you can skip all that. Depending on the hour of your arrival you find the guest house owner somewhere around the premises. After 7pm, most likely - having dinner, sharing the meal with friends and some guests already "checked-in". All men around the table, so no shirts required :). Just by your first name (no ID checked) the owner, Garik, is ready to show you your room. He somewhat covers his torso, grabs your suitcases and heads upstairs. You only need to follow. Having realized both suitcases are heavy Garik has an immediate solution - he pulls one of the guests from the table, gives him one of the cases, and you are all taking off, marching stairs to the fourth floor. How Garik convinces your helper is beyond understanding - with zero English vocabulary he appeals to everyone being Canadian (Bryan is from Vancouver) hence having to help each other. Two more minutes and you are all set in your room under the very roof, in a quiet corner, with a sky view over Adler.

Russian version

Up in the air...

Taking off. Dreams ought to come true.

So many words said about the dual sensation the plan to go to Sochi creates. Today I know for sure that I am willing and will avoid expressing my views on the politics in Russia while speaking of the Winter Olympic Games 2014. Here is why. Sitting comfortably in a chair, thinking that Russia is no place for the Olympics, being concerned by misuse of budget, corruption, by the impact on the ecology and on the region's future is an easy thing to do. Had the citizen society been strong enough to rise against the very application of Sochi as he host city for the Games back in 2007, we wouldn't end up in an awkward situation having the population pay a huge price for the event and not being able to afford or not willing to attend it and support their fellow athletes. Lesson learnt: raising one's voice is key before things become irreversible. Flooding social media with opinions now, weeks or days before the opening ceremony is easy, while does not lead anywhere.

I've been dreaming of going to Winter Olympic games for some time now, no matter the host place. 2014 turned out to be the perfect time to make this dream of mine come true. So here we are on the plane taking us to Europe. We will be landing in Sochi International airport in 12 hours or so. Safety and security concerns pulsing in Canada go overboard. Some hockey players' families supposedly refused to travel to Sochi. Nevertheless, some journalists, volunteers, athletes' parents are on the same flight as us. I want to be in the Olympic park for the same reasons they are going. Except my cheek will be painted three colors :) and long months of the voyage planning are totally worth it. And one more reason... I've never been to Sochi before, only traveled to the other side of the Caucasus. The view of the seashore and the white mountain tops must be marvelous.

Russian version

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kitchen notes

Many times promised but just now delivered recipe...

Chicken Mushroom Sauce

Rinse 5-6 chicken breasts (preferably never frozen), slice them across in 1-inch pieces.
Cook chicken in a pan adding salt, fresh ground pepper and olive oil in moderation until golden crust.

Mushroom sauce:
Mushrooms - 2 lbs
Onion - 1/2
Olive oil - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup
Sour cream 14% - 200 g
Flour or cornstarch - 1 - 2 tbsp (until the sauce thickens)

Cook finely chopped onion with few drops of oil until light gold color.
Cook sliced mushrooms until reduced and juice is out.
Mix the onions and mushrooms with milk and sour cream in a saucepan.
Add salt and pepper to your taste.
Start cooking on medium heat. When the mix warms up add flour or cornstarch gradually, constantly mixing the sauce with a wooden spoon.
When the sauce thickens turn the heat off and leave the pot to cool down for 15-20 min.

Add the sauce to the chicken and set in the oven at 350 F for another 15-20 min to allow chicken take the mushroom sauce flavor.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Who is in the rush?

How does one tell a nation with no rush on the agenda?

Hint: turn on the TV in the morning, zap the national tv channels and count how many will display current time non-stop.

Switzerland: 2 channels out of 20.
Calm, safe, relaxed.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


What a beautiful piece for a "self-improvement kit"!!! This visualized story is not about cooking and it is not about links between generations. Neither it is about cultural heritage or cultural differences. This movie is an almost intimidating instruction on how to get committed and how to keep your "motivation shoes" on.

Coincidence: the book I ordered a couple of weeks from Amazon arrived yesterday. I found it in the mailbox coming back from the movies - all inspired by a simplistic way suggested to handle our laziness, uncertainty and shyness to get something DONE, COMPLETED! It didn't take me long to unwrap it :) Guess, what! Apparently there are no easy ways to get motivated, keep the drive within yourself no matter what anyone around you says or does.

Subject to explore... I have many more ideas popping up in my head than I in fact bring to life. Moreover, I do start projects with the best intention at heart but somewhere mid-way they vanish and I have no clue how to "gain" them back...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Never take context out of the picture! or A quote out of context...

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.
- Stephen King

I was looking for a word today and actually still am... I still can't give a decent verb to express what happens when you bring a new methodology into this world.... Anyways, that's work...
Deadlines are marching and tasks are piling up (check out yesterday for details) so I turn to a colleague of mine for help. With a sneaky smile he shows me a randomly displayed quote that I just placed here.

Stephen King indeed said that, in fact, wrote. A very 'down to the point' piece called "Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes".
The article looks sarcastically American (...in Ten Minutes) and unmistakenly universal. Twelve simple rules that become gigantically powerful when you think them through and open yourself up to accept them instead of arguing. In my schematic mind they fall into a spectrum to balance each other and to bring into its center a gifted you... or you, or... maybe even you. The rules that give freedom to the writer-to-be and set up a frame to fit in. No big promises, but those given are barely seen behind the series of Do's and Dont's.

The quote that woke my curiosity is part of rule #5 - Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft.

The good thing about tomorrow is that my draft will have been reviewed and I will be entitled to look up some dictionaries...