Wednesday, 2 September 2009


“And look, there’s the sea!” “I know, I’ve seen it already.” “Come on, you are supposed to say ‘wow!’. Give me that pleasure - you’re a woman!” It was the end of our first day together in Odessa and he started to lose his patience for me. Not that he is so impatient. It’s just that I was behaving too much not the way he is used to. I am direct, I argue, I like to have the last word. Apparently Ukrainian women don’t behave like that. I would have labelled him as a macho and moved on if I haven’t heard this from my mother so many times: “The woman is the one to give in in a discussion. She is the wise one.”

This discussion on Arnon Grunberg’s blog doesn’t seem to have an end. We keep on reacting to each other’s statements. We’ve probably annoyed all the other readers with our smug remarks. I’ve read his last response and thought up a dozen different answers to that. But I won’t react. I will let him have the last word. I’ll be a woman this time and let him be a man...

Timeline: 1991 – I have no other photos of me revealing my Jewish roots so well. This was the time when I had to decide which ethnicity would be stated in my passport. I chose Russian, but it was a tough choice.


  1. I feel most discussions has nothing to do with truth anymore. Why do you like to argue?

    Do you believe (your) personality is defined by etnicity? Did you feel you lost something when you chose to be Russian?

  2. I believe that my ethnicity is an important part of my personality. I find it difficult to choose between myself and myself.

  3. I agree with Sasha, ethnicity makes an important part of once personality. After being Dutch for a while - where ethnicity is something which sounds like a bad word - and some nice time meeting people I start understanding the role of ethnicity. I am ethnic Dutch, but ... I do feel more like European. Do I loose something if I have to choose, or am I both?

    I know, as Dutch I make many mistakes because I feel more like European ... as European I make many mistakes because I still have a lot to learn being Dutch..

    Reading this back, it opens my eyes a little more.

  4. You are always everything you are, there is no need to choose. That's a good part. It took me years to realise, though.

  5. true ... no need to choose :)


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