Archive for April 18th, 2009

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Abduction, Bribery & Imprisonment? – Ukrainian Wedding Traditions

April 18, 2009

Now, the Slavic People are a very old race…….like the Britons, Celts, Scandinavians and all the other “pagan” pre-Christian races……..and have some traditions which will never die out………….A bit like “Morris Dancing” in the UK………unfortunately, some would say. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoLExQ893HI

What?  No, no, no……..I don’t mean Ukrainians do Morris Dancing too…..I mean they have a number of traditions which can be somewhat “embarrassing”……..but which linger on……and quite rightly, even if unfortunate.

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Like all pagan traditions, those which have survived are those which held particular importance or were such fun, the Christian faith “incorporated them” into it………A bit like April Fools Day and May Day………both of which are, of course, pagan festivals, having absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.

Marriages, of course, are one tradition which endures the ages, even if the original “rituals” have been thrown into the Christian Churches “blender” to ensure that the resulting cocktail has some role for the Christian Church’s in such a large scale social events during it’s expansion across the globe over the centuries.

What has this to do with a Ukrainian wedding you ask?………..Read on, my impatient reader, read on!!

Weddings here can last 2 or 3 days……..or maybe even a longer, if you drink so much, you lose the rest of the week. 

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A wedding here cannot simply be carried out at a church.  As a hangover from the “Soviet days”, you must get married at the Zaks.  This is a civil ceremony where the “State” registers and acknowledges the marriage and gives you a certificate.  This certificate is then taken to a Church……if you want……where, you are married again……although this has no legal purpose or recognition……and it is therefore completely unnecessary……..unless you are a “God Botherer”.  The Church will not “marry you” without the certificate from the Zaks……saying you are married!!

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Anyway, there is no guarantee that you can accomplish marriage at the Zaks and a church on the same day…..due to both having their own agendas and availability……..Hence 1, 2 or 3 days to get married if you want to keep “everyone” happy.

So…….leaving the church out of it……..probably quite wisely……..I will run through the course of events of a Ukrainian wedding, which obviously, traditionally involves, imprisonment, kidnapping, ransoms, bribery and physical danger…………….Well, didn’t yours???

No?……….Ahhh, I see, all that came AFTER you were married………

Anyways, today is the day you get your Ukrainian “ball and chain” shackled to your leg……..hopefully, for the rest of your life………..and here is what “traditionally” will happen.

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The Groom, his friends and family will gather at the “Groom’s” home………….The Bride her friends and family gather at her home, whilst they attempt to make a perfectly divine woman even more jaw droppingly gorgeous…..I agree, an impossibility for 90% of the ladies here…..

Whilst this is being done, the Bride sits on a cushion on a chair…………and once completed, when she stands, all the unmarried women then throw themselves, by fair means or foul, towards the cushion and chair……….for whomever sits on it first will be the next to marry.

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………Yes, I too am reminded of the extreme violence displayed on occasion when playing musical chairs in the days of my childhood.

Once she is ready, the Groom and his friends, then arrive at her home……….at which point the Bride is bundled, unceremoniously into the toilet or a cupboard and imprisoned……before the Groom gets to see her.

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At this point, the Groom is make to “negotiate” the release of his “Bride to be” with her friends.  This may take the form of an opening request for $4000 and that he must also do the “Dance of the Flaming Arseholes” in front of all her friends and family, for example………………..He obviously then begins to barter until they reach agreement and cash and a singed arsehole later, she is released from her little prison.

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The Bride and Groom with all friends and family then make their way to the Zaks and the State recognised marriage occurs.

What?…………That’s it?……….No shenanigans here?………..

Well actually, during the ceremony what I can only describe as “traditionally embroidered” towels, called “Rooshnik” are laid between the Bride and Groom………and the first one to stamp on it after they are officially married will become the “boss” of the marriage………for life!!

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………..Yes, I know, even if I had been the first, she would still be the “Boss”……….and I would have a badly bruised foot too……..’cos she would have stamped on mine, when I stamped in the towel………..but we’re talking tradition here Ok!!

So, we now head off to the recepetion, either at a restaurant or somebody’s home………but as you’re walking out of the Zaks door, not even having made it to the street, someone throws a bucket of water…………

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………….over the pavement, not the Bride and Groom……..that would be a particularly nasty thing to do on such a day! 

Why?……….I have no idea. and nobody else can tell me, but the “symbology” of the act would seem to indicate washing away all the dirt and bad things on the ground in front of them…….therefore providing a clean, clear and problem free future. 

This act of “kindness” is subsequently paid for in cash by the “Best Man”. 

It is at this point you are glad you have married a Ukrainian beauty………..and not some lard-arsed American “All You Can Eat” Heifer from Arkensaw………as the Groom then has to carry the Bride over the wet floor. 

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This is not the only time during the “festivities” you will be glad she is not the lard-arsed American “All You Can Eat” Bride……..as you will see as you read on……….

The usual photo’s etc etc then take place……..assuming you didn’t marry the heifer from Arkensaw…..in which case, if you did, you are obviously now on your way to hospital with a slipped disk or hernia.

On arrival at the reception, the Bride and Groom are met by their parents holding bread called “Karavay” which in the centre and on top, has a dish containing salt.  They both break the bread, dip it in salt and then eat it.

A toast to the “Bride and Groom” is then made………….followed by throwing the glasses everyone has just drunk from, as forcefully as possible, over your right shoulder, ensuring they smash into the wall or floor…….but they must smash.  It also saves on washing up!!

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At this point, everyone then eats more than they possibly can, and drinks………and drinks…………..and drinks………..and drinks.  Then they drink some more!!

When everyone is absolutely “hammered”………the children at the wedding will climb under the tables and steal one of the Brides shoes………..not because they are malicious little twats……well maybe they are……….but because it is tradition.

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The “little shit’s” then demand a ransom for the Brides shoe……which normally equals the cost of the shoes when bought.  Once this has been negotiated and the ransom paid………..by the Best man, again………the shoe is returned.

This is yet another time when you, as the Groom, are glad you didn’t marry the American Heifer…….because the dainty little shoe stolen from your beautiful Ukrainian Bride…………is then filled with Vodka……..which you must drink……..and you have already drunk so much that the American Heifer would start to look like the beautiful Ukrainian because you are soooooooo pissed……so a heifer’s “welly boot” full just ain’t what you really need right now!! 

Now I am not a “foot fetish” kinda guy, and the thought of drinking a shoe full of vodka, previously occupied by a sweating little foot……well, it doesn’t really do it for me………but the amount of vodka which can be contained in the shoe of the “All You Can Eat” lard-arsed American Bride would probably mean a stomach pump or a sustained period of unconsciousness for me………..Then again, that may be preferred to a night with your US heifer where you have to ask “Fart…..go on, give me a clue!!”

Once this has happened, more eating, dancing and much, much more drinking continues………until the Groom finally admits defeat and goes to the bathroom………either to relieve the discomfort in his bladder, bowel or succombs to projectile vomiting through enormous alcohol intake.

Upon his return to the “festivities”………he will find his Bride has been abducted!!!  

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No, I’m not joking, this is tradition and this did and does still happen at the majority of Ukrainian weddings.

Now, at this point, we have to remember that everybody is absolutely and completely “w*nkered” on booze………….and it has happened on more than one occasion, that the abductors were so drunk that they forget where they have hidden the Bride……..Brides have gone missing for 24 – 48 hours……..whilst people have sobered up……..or the Bride herself has sobered up enough to remember she got married and where……….and made her own way back.

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It has also happened, that when negotiating the release of his Bride, the Groom has said decided there is no rush for her to be returned and refused to pay the ransom………preferring to carry on drinking with his friends.

In theory though, and in most cases, the Groom then negotiates the release of his Bride…….again by way of cash, bizarre forfeits or a combination of both……….Again, any cash is “stumped up” by the Best Man.

The Bride, assuming people remember what they did with her, is then returned…….and the eating, drinking and dancing continues until everyone is either unconscious or they simply run out of food and booze…….although the former being much more likely!!!

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……..Yeh, you’re probably better off getting married somewhere else!!!

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Turkuaz Restaurant/Nightclub – Odessa

April 18, 2009

Well, as the name suggests, this restaurant/nightclub has a very Turkish theme to it.

The theme does not run through the decor……..but the food.  If you like Turkish cuisine……..and I don’t dislike it, this place is Ok………..and it does the hookah!

www.turkuaz.com.ua

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It is on Deribovaskaya.  During the day, you can sit outside on the pavement in a “patio” environment in the summer months……as I have done on several occasions.

The menu is not “exclusively” Turkish…..and the standard “European” can eat here without a problem……..but hey, if you go to a Turkish Restaurant, you’re going for Turkish food right!!!

The nightclub itself does not open until 2200……..and stays open until 0600…….playing predominantly “dance” music.

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It does host live music on occasion, together with “show programmes”………………and strippers.

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………Well, I know you have been a little disappointed by the lack of “fun pillows” in my blog lately!!

Eh?…….You can’t see?…….But I always make sure every photo claiming to be taken of a place is taken from that place……it’s called authenticity!!

There are no better pictures of “fun pillows” from this club!!

You don’t care eh……….Ok, hang on…………….

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Happy now……….even though they have nothing to do with the nightclub in question?? 

It is quite a small club though, accommodating a maximum of 350 people………so therefore the average Ukrainian or Moldovan wedding packs it to capacity……..Errrrm, no I’m not joking, the last Moldovan wedding I went to, there were over 500 guests……….and no he works for me, he isn’t an Oligarch.

What?………..Sure, if you’re interested I will put a post together on traditional weddings here……..but this post is about the Turkuaz……which is an Ok place to eat!!

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Ok….We think we’ve got the money…..Time for a break!!

April 18, 2009

Well, dear reader………as no doubt Ukraine was somewhere you had to look up on a map before the little gas spat with Russia that looked like it was going to make you wear your socks in bed on a night, the joint hosting of the UEFA 2012 football and the IMF loan of $16.4 billion……..Yeh, I know, $16.4 billion isn’t much to save a nation is it, considering Gordon Brown and Barack Obama spend that amount every day…….you are now at least somewhat more of aware of it’s location.

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Of course, the IMF loan and the politics behind it will have made the news in most nations……..due to the fact that the politicians here want it……..but won’t pass the necessary resolutions to make it possible………as there is an election coming.

Eh?……..What do you mean, “surely they should do what is best for the country”………I would suggest you read an earlier post of mine which outlines, very simply, the state of the politics in Ukraine………nothing is done under the reasoning of “what is best for the country”……..it is done under the reasoning of what is best for the politicians……and even more so the businessmen behind each politician.

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Anyway……..the story regarding the IMF loan, in a nutshell, goes like this………

Ukraine requests assistance from the IMF………and no country will do that unless they are totally screwed and nobody else will lend them money, as the IMF always lays down conditions which people just don’t like and are completely monetarily and fiscally orientated without any concern for the social effects they bring…….Just look at the Asian Crisis a decade ago……..or Argentina……who defaulted on their loans rather than have massive civil unrest due to the huge unemployment issues and banking issues created by a purely “$” orientated viewpoint from the IMF at the time.  More unemployment means more state expenditure by way of benefits…….and less tax revenue, social and political unrest…….leading to less likelihood of inward investment to create “private sector” and therefore jobs which are not on the governments books………Yes this is very simplistic and no I am not anti IMF…..but a view a little wider than the “$” alone and a “smidgen” of social awareness as to the results could of course be thrown into the mix.

“Bollocks!!”….. I hear you cry, “if they can’t balance the books and need to borrow money, then they either do as they are told or not take the money”.

Unfortunately Ukraine does not have China to buy it’s debts………and if we follow that line of  thought, then US financial policy would be directed by the Chinese…….after all $16.4 billion is only a very small percentage of the $1 trillion…….and growing……..debt the US has to China.

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Anyway, it seems that Ukraine and the IMF have actually taken some social consequences into account and the previously insisted upon 0 State deficit budget by the IMF……..has now been relaxed to a 4% State deficit for this year.

Now you would think, desperate for cash for the nation, all Ukrinian politicians would be jumping for joy……..but that of course is not the case.

The opposition party, which is the biggest Ukrainian political party and has more “MP’s” in parliament than any other party, does not support the IMF loan because it raises taxes and the price of utilities, like gas and electricity for a nation which is suffering from rising unemployment due to the crisis and fall in exports.

Eh?……..How can they be the “opposition” if they have the most MP’s?……….This is Ukraine, that’s why……..I told you read my other posts on Ukrainian politics!!

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So the shaky alliance leaders met, Tymoshenko, Yushenko and a few top Ministers, with the IMF and ground out a plan………..2 months after the second tranche of money had been due…….but had been refused due to their inability to get the “resolutions” through parliament required to receive it…….Don’t ask!!

So Monday, they all emerge having agreed a plan……..and with all MP’s from the alliance voting for it, there would be enough votes to get the “resolutions” needed through parliament and get the much needed money.

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However, the “resolutions” failed to get through……….as the Presidents part of the alliance didn’t vote in favour…….leaving the Prime Minister’s party and a few of the President’s party well out numbered by the opposition and those from the President’s party who voted against the “agreed plan”.

Normally, of course, this would have still “festered on” for months and months…….whilst “political trade-off’s” were made to gather enough support to get it through parliament.

Tomorrow, however, is the Orthodox Easter, followed by 3 national holidays on 1, 2 and 9 May………and politicians being politicians, of course wanted a holiday from yesterday, 17 April until 12 May………..well, what’s the point of working the 18 days in between all of these national holidays………it’s not like there’s a crisis or anything, is there.the Prime Minister, Ms Tymoshenko, and her “Cabinet of Ministers” universally adopting the IMF conditions and would seem to have ensured the next wheel-barrow full of cash to Ukraine………….even if she did had to ram it through by way of “executive order”.

Now, one may question, why, if she can do this now, she didn’t do it in February in order to get the timely and agreed release of the next tranche of IMF funding. 

The answer probably lays between 2 positions.  Firstly, Ukraine as a nation has been “dictated to” for almost 100 years from Moscow when part of the USSR…….and forcing something through can be seen as “authoritarian” and/or Putin like…….a position which maybe uncomfortable for Ms Tymoshenko with an election in October.

Secondly, Ukraine still wants to be seen as a “democracy” by the rest of the world…..well, it still has eyes on deeper EU integration by way of trade at the very least.

………..Yes, I know, I know……… Gordon Brown and the EU make Putin-like “executive order” decisions all the time, removing both voters and parliament from having any influence or decision making ability, but that kind of news does not reach the average Ukrainian……..not because of a lack of “free press”……..but a lack of English ability and in Ukraine, EU politics and even more so UK politics is not newsworthy……..unless it effects or mentions Ukraine specifically, in which case it will be translated and covered.

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The next question is why did the President’s party vote along side the Prime Minister’s to get it through “democratically”……..and this I cannot answer convincingly.

It maybe, despite the President agreeing to the plan, face to face with the Prime Minister and IMF, he felt that when it came to vote, it would further weaken the Prime Minister if once again she failed to get the cash from the IMF.  This though, is probably not the case having publically stated he favoured the plan prior to the vote…….to then sabotage it will further damage his credibility as he would be seen to be continuing to do anything to hinder the Prime Minister. 

The answer, is probably, but not definitely, that he currently has a public popularity rating of under 3%……..and with an election in October, his party are feeling either able to defy him……or are looking to vote along the lines of other parties they are considering defecting too when they get obliterated at the next election.

Strangely, despite his party’s vote, after the Prime Minister ” forced to adoption” of the IMF plan via her executive order, the President supported her decision………for reasons probably too opaque and obscure to comprehend…….but will have little to do with it being “the right thing to do”………..no, I kid you not!!

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Anyway, having probably now ensured the next mountain of $ cash………..the MP’s have now buggered off until 12th May……..having solved the crisis………obviously………and to check their “off-shore” accounts.

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