Category Archives: Life in Samara

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009.

What a year this has been. This year has seen many ups and downs for this writer. Unfortunately, it does seem that there have been more downs than ups, but that is life, and we live and learn from the experiences and teach others the things we have learned.

This journey of mine, as a writer, has seen many accomplishments, and has in itself, taken many turns into new and previously unchartered waters. Waters, that I had never thought possible even for me.

But these tides that I have gone through have seen countless blessings, both small and great. And while the experiences of these has been a blessings, there also comes a new level of self-awareness and responsibility. Not only for me as an individual, but also as a person in the public eye.

I have got to meet some new friends in my trek, both in person and online, and I hoped I have inspired some people along the way.

No other joy can be compared though to the birth of a child. One dream that had eluded me for a great many years. But, all is in Gods timing, and that timing came about on May 12th of this year when our house was blessed with a son, David Lindley.

Of course, there have been many hurdles along the way of being a parent, but that joy remains as I know in my heart that I write because of my family. They are a great inspiration.

As I reflect on this Christmas, I am reminded that although it is traditionally thought of a time for receiving, I would like to reflect for a moment on one thing. On this day, a Saviour was born. To some He may mean a religious icon that we worship twice a year, for some maybe not at all, and for others, a way of life. It is a time of remembrance and giving. A time for sharing, a time for reflection, a time for celebrating.

However you decide to spend this Christmas, whether you spend it with family, your friends, your distant relative you see once a year, your co-workers, your neighbors cat…. Just remember this:

Drink Responsibly, Be thankful for this time when we can fellowship with family, friends, loved ones, and even those you may not like.

If I can encourage anyone this day, I would like to encourage you to do one thing for one person. Whether that person has a dream or is in need this season. Give to someone and make this Christmas a blessing for them. They can be anyone, a friend, a stranger, a relative you have not talked to in many years.

One act of kindness this season can make a difference.

You may have heard this a million times already, but I want to encourage you to try it, then post your act of kindness on this wall.

Have a wonderful Christmas one and all.

C.A. Milson

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A Trip To The Store…..

Can be extremely entertaining, especially in Samara, so it seems…

On my nightly walk tonight, we happened to stop in at the Pjatyorochkah Store on Young Pioneers Blvd to get some needed supplies. (For me this means milk, cereal and other snack-attack items after a day of writing).

Now, when we was nearing the check-out, 3 drunken would-be thieves tried to take it upon themselves to escape like thieves in the night with some five-finger discount supplies of their own. Obviously intelligence is not one of their strong points as I will tell…

Before anyone really knew what happened, two of the guys got away with a dried fish, while their comrade in crime got caught while trying to escape with ten bottles of beer in his jacket. (Must have been a thirsty lad)…

(For those who dont know; In Russia it is quite popular to eat dried fish while getting hammered)…

Of course, Mr Big Time Crime-Boss-Wanna-Be didn’t get too far as he was stopped at the check-out by the store manager who happens to be quite a burly woman 🙂 She did not hesitate in locking the front door, preventing the would be Capone from making off with the goods. Of course, that also meant that we were also stuck there, to get a full account of yet another episode of “When Idiots Get Drunk“.

Now I’m not exactly sure what this guy was thinking. Maybe he thought Prohibition was coming back and wanted to get in some serious drinking. But then again, I dont think he thought much at all. Not since his “Gang” managed to flee the scene with 1 dried fish. (Come on guys. If you’re gonna steal, make it more worthwhile than a piece of fish!!!)

Now the absolute hilarity of this is not only was Capone caught in the act, but his buddies (who must have been part siamese, as it took two of them to lift a piece of fish), fled the scene, leaving Capone to take the fall.

Of course, I was an ear-full of True Russian Swearing, in all its beautiful vulgarity, and then some. Among the many extremely colorful metaphors that Burly Store Manager yelled for the entire block to hear, she did let these pearls fly out, “I’m tired of you thieves!” and not to forget the famous last words, “You’re finished!” And what was Capone’s response? “It’s my birthday today and I want to write a complaint!”

Unfortunately I didnt get to see much more as Burly Store woman unlocked the door to let us out, locking the door behind us, while Capone continued to protest….

And who said that life is boring….  It’s moments like that when I wish I had the camcorder with me 🙂

Yet another episode of “When Idiots Get Drunk“….

Pumpkin Pie

Another Christmas has come and gone, and this year, I must say, has been really fantastic!

We started our Christmas a little early this year. Now, although in Western society it is common to exchange gifts on Christmas Day, here in Russia, the western tradition of Christmas on Dec 25th is not seen as a religious holiday, and for Russians, Dec 25th is a normal work day.

So as mama goes to her regular job at the kindergarden before the sun rises each morning, we decided to do our gift giving last night.

Without going into details of who got what, I will just say this: That last night was the best Christmas Eve I have had in some years.

Now getting onto the food, which is everyone’s favorite. Without a doubt, the Christmas celebration (or as my sister calls it “Festival Of  The Feasts“),  is about the one time of year when one can get together with family and friends and eat them out of house and home)  🙂

Yesterday, we started the food preparation later in the day. I started with my famous Pork Roast. Now, I will say here that finding a market that sells pork with the crackle on it (the skin) is really hard to come by, just as it in the US. (I guess this brilliant idea comes courtesy of the Heart Foundation). But in my opinion, the crackle is one of the best parts of having a roast pork to begin with. Not only is the crackle good to eat (if done right), but it also seals in the natural flavor and juices of the meat.

Okay, so my famous pork roast is a trade secret, and I wont give away any details on what I use in the preparation, but to give you all a hint, I use around a dozen secret herbs, spices and sauces in my recipe 🙂 Needless to say, the end result is nothing short of spectacular (not my words, but the words of everyone who has had the fun of trying my home cooking)

Now comes the gravy. Gravy is not a big thing here in Russia, but this year it was part of our new tradition.

To make the gravy I use the juices from the roast. Pour this into a pan and bring it to the boil over a low heat. Mix some flour and water and add this to the gravy, stirring continuously until done. Add salt to taste, but really you don’t need any extras if you have done this right.

Now comes the part which we all love. The Pumpkin Pie. This is my own recipe so try it and see if yours turns out the same.

Although some online recipes tell you to use molasses or a cream substitute, I came up with this brilliance when I discovered that here in Russia such items are pretty much non-existant.

Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees.

BASE: For the base lets start with the basics:
250 grams plain flour
4 large eggs
60 ml cold water
125 grams unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend ingredients until you have a thick batter. Batter is properly mixed when it has a thick texture. Spread evenly in a pie dish and put in fridge for about an hour. (or put in freezer for half an hour). (This will let the base give a firmer texture and easier for your baking).

Next, lets go onto the filling. What I use here is:
1 large pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar

Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and place in a large pot. Boil pumpkin until tender. Once tender, take off heat and allow to cool. Next, peel the pumpkin and put into a blender. Add eggs, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla sugar. Whisk until well blended and thick.

Next up, pour the puree evenly over the pie crust until you have a thick layer. Place in oven. Cook for approx 30 minutes until done. Pie will be done when you can stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean.

Serve with instant whipped cream.

Enjoy!

An Australian Christmas

For people in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is all about cold mornings, large hot lunches, and snow. In Australia, Christmas is celebrated during the summer months with no snow and log fires for us! For Australians it’s about sun, the beach, and often inappropriate large hot lunches, though our Christmas Cards and traditions usually depict those of colder climates. Australians have Christmas Trees, Father Christmas, Christmas Carols and gifts which are a familiar Christmas scenario.

For the majority of Australians, Christmas Downunder experiences all the seasonal variations of a Summer Down Under…..electrical storms, floods, hailstorms, cyclones and bushfires. But 80% of the time they are blessed with blue skies and depending on the Australian location, temperatures ranging from 25 – 34 degrees centigrade.

Australia is a multicultural country and with this, the traditions we have are often mingled and derived from a mixture of other countries. Australia, although huge in size, has a population of just over 20 million people. Our country is a harmonious mix of many ethnic groups. Our backgrounds are very varied, with people having connections with England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Europe, Russia, Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Middle East, Vietnam, China, Japan, Thailand as well as North and South America. So you can imagine that each of these national groups brings the colour ,customs and festive rituals of the Christmas celebrated in their respective homelands. Australians are able to appreciate culturally diverse Christmas celebrations.

House decorations in Australia are not usually as elaborate as in the United States, although there are plenty of decorations and symbols, and even a few wreaths. Because it is warm weather, there are many native plants in bloom. These are easily picked for decoration around the holiday season – orchids, Christmas bells, and the like are common.

Christmas is special to the majority of Australians for it is their Summer Holiday season and students especially are “wrapping” up their school year. That means sitting for end of Semester tests or exams and waiting for their results, as well as getting ready for the Summer Holidays. For the majority of Australian students this means …SUN….SURF….SHOPPING. For students it means an end to homework and school studies and the beginning of lots of time for family, relatives and “mates” (friends).

Traditional dinners have been replaced with family gatherings in back yards, picnics in parks, gardens and on the beach. For many, it is the occasion to be with friends and relatives, to share love and friendship and not to forget, the exchange of gifts in the traditional manner. For many, it is a time to enjoy and consume massive quantities of food.

So how do we REALLY celebrate Christmas? Christmas for childen means presents, and lots of them! When I was a child, traditionally in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we would decorate the house with tinsel, Christmas lights, and a large plastic Christmas tree would adorn our front entrance. Christmas was an exciting time of year. Next to Easter and my birthday, it was my favorite time of year! 🙂

Every Christmas Eve, I would put a “Christmas pillowslip” (stocking) at the end of the bed and try to stay awake to wait anxiously for Santa Claus to arrive. Of course, I always fell asleep and never saw Santa arrive, but when I awoke in the morning, my pillowslip was filled with toys and goodies of all kinds. Each year was as exciting as the previous. I would throw off my bedsheets and open my presents from Santa while everyone else in the house slept.

In more recent years, I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with my sister in New Zealand. Although we had forgone the traditions we experienced as children, we still decorated the house with Christmas lights and various other decorations, and on Christmas morning we would sit around the Christmas tree and exchange presents we bought for each other. Of course, there was always one of us who would dress up like Santa and give out more gifts, which added to the magic that is otherwise “Christmas”.

In my sister’s house, the usual Christmas Lunch consisted of roast pork, roast turkey, roast potatoes, pumpkin and other hot vegetables as well as salad, cold ham, cold chicken. The traditional Christmas meal may either be taken in the middle of the day which is the hottest part of the day or in the cooler evening hours. With some families opting for a celebration meal as dinner on Christmas eve. In some households, Christmas Dinner may be a barbeque in the backyard or a picnic on a beach. The evening meal is leftovers from lunch.

Currently everyone is beginning to get ready for the “silly season“. Everyone is busily planning Christmas break-up parties. Children are writing letters to Santa Claus. Decorations are being bought and set up. Shopping centres and malls are experiencing record breaking crowds. In homes, many of the traditional Christmas rituals are being followed. Many children are helping to decorate the family Christmas tree. Australians have yet to follow the American ritual of getting “real” Christmas trees……though some do use gum tree branches. Children are learning Christmas Carols so that they may be sung at festive occasions such as public “Carols by Candlelight” and school concerts. Christmas stockings are being hung in homes….though fireplaces are in short supply. Cards galore are being written and posted. Everyone awaits…….the anticipation is high!

It must also be mentioned that Australians consider Christmas a time for remembering the true meaning of Christmas………a time for remembering the birth of Jesus and the spiritual meaning of Christmas. For many, Christmas will begin with families attending a midnight mass. 70% of Australians are either Catholic, Anglican or Lutheran. After the midnight Mass, a little sleep is attempted. For many, the children in various households, wake up the family at dawn. Gifts are unwrapped and the joy of Christmas begins. For many with relatives and friends overseas, it is a mad scramble to get an early phone call to relatives worldwide.

In order to celebrate an Australian Christmas in your house this year, consider displaying a map of Australia on the wall. Use an Australian animal, like a kangaroo or koala, as the gift or favor of choice for your guests. Create a beautiful tree with wooden decorations, tinsel or garland, and the fairy, angel or star on the top. Serve up a picnic instead of dinner, with champagne and pavlova, (a meringue dessert that is topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit). Or if you choose to serve traditional Christmas plum pudding, offer ice cream or cream on the side. The Christmas pudding during Australian gold rushes often contained a gold nugget; the lucky person who found it was considered to be blessed with good luck for the coming year. These days the gold nugget is replaced with small favors; consider adding these to your pudding.

This year will be my first Christmas in Russia, so although I will be celebrating the traditional Orthodox Christmas with my family, I will also be bringing a little bit of Australiana to Russia with celebrating Christmas “Aussie” style, with lots of decorations, roast pork, roast chicken, roast vegetables, salad, and not to forget, lots of presents for my family!  🙂

Happy Holidays everyone!

C.A. Milson

Australian Recipe: Pavlova

The Pavolova was first created in 1935 by Chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

4 egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar (granulated)
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
half pint whipped cream (one cup)
strawberries or your choice of fruit such as passion fruit, kiwi fruit…

Place egg whites in a clean glass bowl. Beat slowly until frothy, then increase the speed and beat until stiff.

GRADUALLY add the sugar, beating well after each addition. (When all the sugar has been added, the mixture should be shiny, very stiff, and should stand in peaks.) Gently fold in the corn flour with a metal spoon.

Line a cookie sheet with brown paper and grease it lightly. Pile the meringue mixture on it

Slow-bake the mixture at 150°C (300°F) to dry all the moisture and create the meringue, approximately 45 minutes. This leaves the outside of the Pav a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist.

When cooked, turn off the oven and leave the door open to let the Pav cool on the oven shelf – this helps to prevent the middle of the Pav from collapsing (although if it does collapse, generous application of cream hides any mistakes)

When cold, peel off the paper and transfer to a serving platter.

Slice the strawberries in half. and roll in icing sugar (confectioners sugar), and refrigerate.

Cover top of the Pav with whipped cream about 1 hour before serving.

N.B. Turn the Pav upside down before decorating with cream and fruit because the bottom is less crispy than the top after cooking and, unless you serve it immediately after decorating, the “top” absorbs moisture from the cream.

http://schoolenglish.ru/

Public Speaking

Okay, it has been a few days since my last post, and there is probably a good reason for that. Lately my headspace has been all chaotic with different things going on at home and in my professional life, so I have opted not to post anything new until I had something to actually say…

So with this new topic I guess that means I do have something new and interesting going on!

Last week was a busy week for yours truly with a radio interview on the Saturday with my friend Kim Smith; Then on Monday I was at the Theatre, then later in the week I met with my good friend Mikhail Sedyshev, who introduced me to the sport of Rope Cutting. Now as simple as this sounds, it is quite the opposite. For one, you have a bundle of ropes tied together – often it is a bunch of 4 or more ropes tied together – and second, you have to successfully sever the rope in one swing. Okay, easy you think? Yeah right! Did I forget to mention that the rope hangs freely! Not as easy as it seems, but quite interesting to watch!

Okay, so I did try my hand at this sport, and I found out that although the concept is the same as chopping down a tree with an axe, the result is not quite the same… At least it wasn’t for me. Oh well, they do say that practise makes perfect!

Right, getting back to the post topic… Public Speaking!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I often get chills (and not in a good way) at the thought of public speaking. Even as I am writing this, my head is spinning with the new challenge I face for myself… Speaking to a mass audience in a stadium. Yes, little ol’ writer me will be delivering a speech at the Mayak Stadium in Samara this coming Tuesday evening.

Now as exciting as that be for all extroverts, I am not quite in the class of artists who lives for the limelight. Infact, I once heard that writers are quite the reclusive mob, preferring to glow in the radiance of their famousosity by themselves or with those closest to them… I think that much is true, but I also think that in order to grow, we are allowed to face certain obstacles in life.

As I write this, I am reminded of one of the great men of history who also loathed public speaking. Now if you are thinking of Michael Jackson, then you are wrong (although he is one of the reclusive types – and strange). No, the person I am talking about is the biblical hero, Moses.

If you dont mind me sounding off hear for a minute, let me explain what I mean.

Moses, the once former heir of the throne of Egypt, and the leader of the Hebrew nation. We all know who he was. After all, I am sure many of you have heard about him through the teachings in Sunday School or learned a little about him through Charlton Heston portrayal of him in the Cecil B. DeMille‘s 1956 classic The Ten Commandments.  As great as Moses was, he was terrified of public speaking.

When Moses was met by the vision of God at the burning bush, he said to God, “How can I speak to these people as I am a man who is slow of speech” and slow of tongue“.  Moses was terrified of speaking to masses.. Hmmm That is probably why he had Aaron.

Okay, so I dont have an Aaron like he did. But I have an Anna! (Even better!)

It is times like this that I am grateful for having a wife who stands by my side.. and will be standing  by my side on Tuesday evening to translate to the audience the fantastical speech that will really move the audience, and by that I mean they will leave, and for a moment I will hear the sounds of crickets… Then silence as they will leave too.. Leaving me to stand on an empty stage, applauding myself. Good Grief. Okay, that lightheartedness makes me feel better. I just love to ramble sometimes! 🙂

Coming up this week:

I will be on-air on Elemental Musings. Catch my radio interview on the 14th with Bev.  The broadcast is at 7 p.m. Mountain time (8 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Eastern). 6am Samara (the 15th)

I catch up with Brian at The New Author on the 15th through to the 17th.

On the 18th I interview my good friend Kim Smith, author of Avenging Angel. Catch that interview on this website!

And of course, if you live in Samara, you can see me live on Tuesday evening at the Mayak Stadium, Samara.

Have a good week everyone!

C.A. Milson meets students at Nayanova University

Okay the title is a little off, but that is all I could think of right off thetop of my head.. Besides, today I have a migraine the size of Montana, so I can be a little slack with a new post.

Today was the day I had been secretly dreading for almost a week. Talking with students! Okay, I have to say here that I am not particulary afriad of taking to students, but it is the whole “public speaking” thing that I cringe at. Public speaking is not the easiest thing to do.. Especially when everyone is staring at you, and one feels like that they have to be an actor and portrait a certain image that everyone has built up in their minds about you, and hope that you don’t make a complete idiot of yourself in the process. 🙂

We arrived at the university a little later than expected, thanks to the traffic congestion that was backed-up some two miles or more, and when we finally got there, we were introduced to the editors of the magazine School English. As it turns out, the main editor – Valery – is a HUGE AC/DC fan, and has their latest album on the computer. He also had the latest Metallica album on CD. Quite interesting note there as AC/DC is an Australian band.. So, way to go Valery!  🙂

Okay, so getting back to the topic… Speaking. I was shown to the class of Philosophy Studies, and introduced to the class of ten students. Nice and small? Well, I will say that.. The audience and room was small, and made me feel a little awkward. (Not because I am claustrophobic, but because I think public speaking is about as much fun as watching grass grow!)… But awkwardness aside, I think that the students must have felt some degree of awkwardness also as the questions were few.. Or maybe they were bored with my presense?? Hmm.. Anyway, the lecture went something like this:

I introduced myself and Anna to the class, and then their teacher asked her students of they had questions.

Silence.. (Okay, this is the point where one should hear the sounds of crickets!!!) 🙂

Finally one girl with black long hair in the back asked the first question, and asked how old I was. I replied “Over 25.” trying to break the monotomy of sounding like a real card. (Obviously that didn’t work!)

Okay, questions were now limited to questions on writing. The only guy in the class (lucky him!) asked me about Russia literature. Sorry, but my knowledge of Russian authors is limited to what I see online 😦

First girl then asked me about how I got started. Okay, this is where I got “Interesting” . Of course, I gave her the condensed version, skipping the part about “Shack of Evil”, and the titles of the other 26 short stories I had penned back in 1989.

Some twnety minutes later, my brief encounter with public speaking was over, and I could breath again. (Phew!). With the nervousness aside, I think that it went okay. I certainly think it did as the students did ask me for the web address.

Then it was back downstairs to the knife-throwing area. Ah how I missed this! I spent the next hour throwing knives at the target (Did alot better this time I did!), and got to meet the Knife-throwing president, Andrej, who invited Anna and I to the local Samara tournament on December 12th. Andre, we will be there without a doubt!

I would like to take this moment to say a special thank you to the Philosophy Class with hosting me today. You all were great!

Keep watch for a special edition of School English, where I will have an expose on Christmas in Australia, titled, “An Australian Christmas”. I will be looking at the traditions of Australians at the festive season also some famous Aussie Slang that you Canna Miss Oi!

Again a big thanks to Sergey to helped put this together.

Sad… But true

My new blog is rather a disturbing one. So please, if you are offended by cruelty, I would suggest you go here.

Otherwise, please read on….

Today was like any other day in Samara. It was damn cold, and overcast. I was standing on our balcony drinking my morning coffee, watching 3 *street-dogs barking at something they had found in a pile of wood that is under someone’s balcony, in the building across from ours.

(Note: I call them street dogs mainly due to the fact that they are homeless)

At first I thought nothing of it, as these three mutts had obviously found something entertaining to amuse their small minds…

How wrong I was!

After watching these three Hell Hounds for some moments, I soon found out what all their commotion was about… A cat! I watched as a small cat had made a dash for freedom, to escape these hell beasts, but that was not to be. I watched, horrorfied, as these three mongrels from the bowels of hell attacked the poor cat, with one of the dogs quickly snaring the cat in it’s mouth….

Needless to say I did not stand there and continue watching. I put my shoes on and ran out of our apartment to go to the aid of the cat, but I was too late. These three dogs had killed the cat, and they took off as soon as they saw me running towards them…

My heart went out for the cat as I picked it up and disposed of the dead animal. Now I could understand if they had killed it for food, since they are homeless, but they didn’t. They killed this cat, which was obviously someone’s pet, for sport…

I do have to say that this was the first time I had seen this happen, and yes, it is sad to say what I saw, but it is also true.

C.A.Milson in…. My, Samara….

Winter is approaching, and what better way to spend the day by going downtown and get in some last minute window shopping before the snow sets in….

Anna and I started our day by taking our first stop at McDonalds. Of course, as this is the most popular restaurant in town (probably because they dont serve portions of food by the gram), we had a wait a little while before we got out order and found a place to sit. Lunch was nothing spectacular, but hey, this is McDonalds and as we all know, Maccas is home of the famous “Lard Burgers”. Really, their slogan should be “Over 1 Billion Lard Burgers Sold”… I will say this though, at least the chicken nuggets here taste like chicken.. Not like in the United States or Australia where the nuggets are made of anything BUT chicken meat 🙂

While we were having lunch, a young boy came up to us and begged for money. This boy was not some average child who would beg for money, but he was a true street-kid. Almost blind in one eye and wearing tattered cloths. Of all the people who sat there in Maccas today paid little attention to him, and either ignored him or looked away. Anna and I watched as this boy went up to a table and ate the remains of food that someone else had left. Doing what we felt was right, we gave the boy some money and gave him some hope for his day…

Next on the agenda for us was a visit to the Russian version of Ticketmaster, and we got tickets to go see the Russian cicrcus this coming Saturday. I am looking forward to this as this will be the first time I have been to a real circus! And what better way to see it than with family! (One person in particular.. If you are reading this, you will be in for a treat!)

After buying more tickets to go see a play on December 7th, we went to meet my new friend here in Samara, Sergey. Sergey works at the Nayanova University in the downtown of Samara. At first I had not thought too much into the details, but as we walked there, Anna mentioned to me that I may be speaking to some students today.

Okay! Panic Time!… Me? Infront of a classroom of kids, and talking? To quote Shaggy here, “YIKES! GANGWAY!!!” Public speaking was something I was never good at. I remember the last time I had to face an audience. It was at an Amway convention in Brisbane, when I earned my first (and ONLY) 3% Pin…

(Flashback)
Now although I didn’t have to say much (apart from my name and who my uplines were), that was bad enough… Being there on stage all I could see was that darn spotlight shining in my eyes.. Giving me the feeling that I was about to sing to a train!!!

(Okay… Flashback now finished)

Okay, but that was then, and this is now… I am not the Shy person I once was.. Infact, I rather now like being in the public eye…

Right, I better get back on track before I go into a complete non-related tangent and confuse everyone.. including myself 🙂

We arrived at the University at around 4pm, and met Sergey at front as arranged. Sergey is really cool. He also works on the School English, which is a national publication which goes out to some 10,000 subscribers in Russia (way cool Sergey!!) http://schoolenglish.ru/

Sergey also asked me to drop by next Wednesday and give a talk to the students about my travelling experiences, writing, and answer questions. Really looking forward to this! Kinda reminds me of my “Show and Tell” days 🙂

As it turns out, Sergey is also into knife-throwing and competes at a national level. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with knife-throwing (no, it does not involve throwing knifes at someone, in the hope they will catch it in their teeth… For those who thought this, you have been watching TOO much David Copperfield!), you can go online here and check out what knife-throwing is all about:

http://www.knifethrowing.info

The version for Samara is here: http://ivek.ru/knife.php?kn=1_1_23

After a brief tour of the Uni, Sergey took us to the area where they have the knife-throwing practise. Now this area is more or less located in the basement area of the Uni, and I have to tell you, this place is really decked to the nines! When you see the area for the first time, the walls have been hand crafted with oak and made to resemble the middle-ages. This was hand-crafted by current world knife-throwing champion, Mikhail Sedyshev (Who I had the pleasure of also meeting).

There are throwing knifes of all kinds, (one in particular was the knife that looked like it was made for Vlad the Impaler… and by the way, this one was my personal favorite!) and to say I was impressed is an understatement! Not only did I get to see what this sport is about, but Anna and I got to try our hand at knife-throwing. Okay, the object of this sport is to throw the knife at the target.. More or less like Darts… Sound easy? Yeah right! This was not as easy as it sounds as the knife doesn’t always hit the target, and more often than not, the knives would hit the target and go bouncing off somewhere else, mainly to the other side of the room, or anywhere else but the target. Okay, as difficult as this sport it, I still had a blast of a time! It was great fun to try to master this sport in a few seconds, but alas, it seems that my Jedi powers were completely on the blink today 🙂

Then we got to meet Mikhail Sedyshev. He is the current world champion. I have to say, he is a very down to earth guy and is very hospitable. Anna and I got to see all the different style of knifes and hand-crafted swords of all kinds that would make any collector envious! We even got to see the showroom of swords that are unavailable to the public (and got to wield these swords), and to top it off, I got to try on the official Sultan outfit that Mikhail won for first prize in the Asian Knife-Throwing Tournament.

Before we left Mikhail presented us with gifts that are truly amazing and absolutely priceless, not only for him, but us also.

Two more great things today. Mikhail and Sergey asked me to be a part of the National Tournament in February to represent Samara. This is a really cool, as I will be an Australian representing Russia in a national tournament. You can bet I am excited about this!

Lastly, soon I will be contributing to the School English magazine, so be sure to check this out online at: http://schoolenglish.ru/

Thank you Sergey and Mikhail. Anna and I had a great time this afternoon.

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