March 25th – The Kama Sutra and Lenin

Hey there!

I am happy to report that the hibernation is over! I went to Kiev over the weekend and it was actually +15 on Friday and incredibly sunny! But today in Kharkiv it was the coldest day I think I’ve experienced in a month or so… it snowed and when it wasn’t snowing it was raining and windy and in general was just a rather unpleasant day, weather wise. Otherwise it was pretty fine. I taught an exciting lesson, as usual, that left my students enthralled and delighted if not by my wit than by unique ability to exact some degree of humor from every circumstance… such as laughing today when a student told me about his dog running away when he was 7 and how he wanted to “make” that is, commit, suicide as a result. The other students looked at my laughing as rather horrifying but what can I say? The thought of a 7-year old being so distraught over a dog running away that he contemplates suicide is a little amusing, is it not? Okay… maybe it wasn’t my finest moment. But regardless I made up for this by later singing the American national anthem (on request) for my students and as much as I didn’t really want too, I am first and foremost someone who likes to see other people happy so I obliged them. I’m certainly not a singer, so I don’t know whether they were happy that they’d managed to convince me or not. In return though, they sang the Ukrainian variant, which was interesting and… well, in my mind a tad bit gloomy. The title is roughly translated to something like “Ukraine is not dead yet” which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

This evening I met with a friend near the huge Lenin statue that stands lurking over Freedom Square (ironic, is it not?). They seem to have one of these Lenin statues in pretty much every city around here. You’d think the guy had written the Kama Sutra or something. Personal note: I really must visit India and see whether or not this latter individual has any kind of tribute or shrine or something devoted to him… they ought to make a Bollywood film based on his life.. yes, that would be interesting… and possibly X-rated, but whatever. Authenticity is what’s important, especially in a biography. I wonder if there was just one woman or if he had a harem of some sort… assuming of course, that the Kama Sutra was written by a man… though what if it had been written by a woman? That would make more sense actually… I mean, the majority of men don’t really care about the position do they? (myself excluded) It would seem most natural that a woman wrote this because she wanted to educate men a little, and who can blame her? I’m sure many couples would be in line to thank her in fact. What an internationally diverse queue that’d be… certainly it isn’t just Indians who’ve taken her good advice to heart, but many ethnicities and nationalities. I’m sure the Ukrainians and Russians would be among them. For all we know, Lenin was probably quite a fan as well. In fact, I’d be shocked if he didn’t at some point in his exceptional existence get his hands on this revolutionary book. In fact, whatever her name was that wrote it probably had quite an influence on his politics. Equality? Public Service?  Market Socialism? All looked good on paper at least, just like the illicit illustrations in the Kama Sutra, but when applied well, some of these things I suppose just didn’t work as well as they appeared too. Not unless you’re a yoga enthusiast on Viagra anyway. So I guess what I mean is, Lenin should thank her (maybe the Czechs, Estonians, Poles, Latvians, etc; not so much…)

Errr, rabbit trailed a bit there… which reminds me, Easter is coming up! Ah yes, who doesn’t love painting eggs and easter egg hunts? As for me, I made eggs this morning for breakfast! And I happen to be reading a book about egg hunting in the U.S.S.R.! God, everything really does come back to eggs doesn’t it? Maybe the chicken really wasn’t first… So right, eggs, those nasty marshmallow peep thingys, chocolate rabbits, dinner at your crazy Aunt Gertrude’s house and an assortment of other fantastically charming pagan traditions are just mere weeks away! Ukraine, being the international bunny mecca that it is, supposedly has quite the Easter celebration! Or at least, that’s what I’m told… but based on some of the things they’ve told me (to never sit at the corner of a table otherwise you’ll never be married, for example) I’m starting to doubt my sources…

Oh right… that meeting at Lenin’s statue! From there we went to Shokoladka, my second home here in Kharkiv, and had bananas, hot chocolate, cinnamon and chocolate cake while discussing such matters as love, distance, relationships, life, happiness, the future, and other common chit-chat. Somehow we got onto the topic of whether guys and girls can be just friends and my female, ummm,  friend, said she definitely doesn’t believe this is possible. Right, so that’s one less friend I thought I had before I didn’t. Perhaps it was meeting in front of the Lenin statue tonight that did it. Or the chocolate. I wonder if I had a chocolate Kama Sutra whether I could resist eating it? It could make for one really cool advent calendar type thing anyway… you know, the calendar where for each day that passes you tear off the flap and get the candy? A similar game could be devised…

One of my student’s the other day gave me a teeny tiny little book full of quotes about chocolate! How cool is that? Only downside: It’s in Russian, but much like the Chernobyl museum I visited in Kiev the other day and which had the same issue, I can understand the significance of it nonetheless. Wow… Chernobyl. I saw a trailer the other day for a horror film that is set in modern-day Chernobyl and recounts the story of a  group of extreme tourists that get one by one taken out by mutated radioactive people who live in the supposedly “abandoned” buildings. No word yet on whether this is a true account or just rumors… I’ll be there at some point to investigate in any case.

I went the other night to this little movie theater/lounge called “The Pintagon.” Get it? There I watched an excellent Charlie Chaplin movie. Have you ever seen any of his movies? Somehow I never had, but last night I watched a film called “City Lights” and well, was it ever spectacular! It truly is incredible how without any dialogue at all, a movie as well written and acted as this one can still retain such a potent emotional impact! Oh, and maybe the best part of all, they actually had a live piano player in the auditorium who was so damn good that I forgot the soundtrack he added wasn’t just a part of the movie already! Because of this story, this night and the rain that accompanied me on my walk home, I couldn’t help but once again think of my precarious situation… and since rain has long been a symbolic indicator used to forecast some upcoming change or situation, I wondered whether the rain that poured as I walked would bring with it the kind of change I longed for, or change of an altogether different kind. As in all mortal matters I am of course victim to time, constrained by its cruel whims. I used to, growing up, long for some kind of way to speed the clock up… how silly I was. But in some form, I have essentially fought all my life against time… but alas I must, like all others, wait and see what time has in store for me.

I hope you didn’t mind that terribly long-winded and oddly Virginia Woolf-ian take on Kama Sutras, Lenin and time. But for me, well, I’m a bit winded and am going to get some sleep now. Have a timelessly titillating Tuesday (you can see what’s on my mind after this message, can’t you?) and I hope to hear from you very soon indeed!

Love from the Ukrainian Spring,


P.S. I just looked it up and the Kama Sutra was supposedly written by some MALE Indian scholar named Vatsyayana. But, much like that corner table sitter who supposedly won’t get married, you and I know that can’t be true!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply to lmjakob Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s