Tuesday, 27 August 2013


So, yes, in Soviet Union they knew how to mass produce: kitchen utensils, toys, clothes, furniture and even houses. You could live five time zones away from each other and still have the same apartment layout and bed linen. It’s not that everything was absolutely the same, but ‘Hey, I have exactly the same [whatever]’ was left unsaid at least half of the time.

There used to be a lot of satire about that. It was a part of everyday reality. It could be frustrating, but it also forced people to be creative in order not to lose themselves in this mass produced mass. People went to Moscow, built strong ties with so-called speculators, spent long hours queuing in shops and crafted things. In that struggle to express your individuality, boy, you needed skills!

Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore. And many of us, myself included, have left what’s left of it. We moved westwards for different reasons, but one thing we all knew: there will be freedom and plenty of possibilities to have stuff you like. One can go to a shop and buy, without having to queue, things that they like that are different from that of their neighbours, friends and family.

So here I am. When I visit people in their homes I usually see at least one piece of furniture that I can call by its IKEA name. Kitchen utensils – Brabantia, Koziol or Alessi – I can tell from a distance. If you live in the Netherlands, you own any amount of HEMA items that I will recognise immediately. And kids, wearing H&M, well…

My daughter has a Fisher-Price toy that sings songs in Russian. I spotted the same toy, but singing in German, in Germany last week. And today I saw the very same toy at her kindergarten. So despite of all this consumerism with its huge choice, we still all wear, use and play with the same stuff. How ironic.

This is so old, it’s not even on Youtube: “Вот в этом окне - оранжевый абажур. А вот в этом окне - оранжевый абажур. Но зато в этом окне! - оранжевый абажур. Тысяча окон - тысяча оранжевых абажуров. Люди, как абажуры, похожи друг на друга. Так считает министерство культуры. Так сичтают директора швейных фабрик. Тысяча человек - тысяча одинаковых штанов. А нет того, чтобы сшили одни, огромные-преогромные штаны, и уж надели бы их на всех! - директоров швейных фабрик! Вот тогда бы они поняли, что люди у нас разные, и вкусы у них - разные...”

Thursday, 22 August 2013

And the winner is…

 It’s time to unravel the name of the mysterious Soviet stuffed animal. Here’s what you guessed:
- fox (mislead by the neon red colour);
- cat;
- mouse;
- little bear with big ears (I told you it was NOT a bear);
- ballet-dancing bear (still not a bear);
- Richard Simmons;
- wolf.

None of these is correct, even though I liked the Richard Simmons guess. The winning ‘guess’ came from a former classmate of mine who did not have to guess because she probably had the very same toy. At that time of total deficit of everything many people owned same stuff be it furniture, clothes, toys or home appliances. This gave me an idea for my next blog post that I hope to write in a couple of days.

A friend sent me this some time ago: Oliver Koletzki feat. Fran - Hypnotized

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the name of the animal – it’s a raccoon! I will contact the winner about the prize.

Friday, 16 August 2013


One day when my mother came to pick me up from school, she was carrying a big bright stuffed toy in a plastic bag. Yay! In the tram on our way home we must have resembled the Bremen musicians: my mother, me on her lap, my toy on my lap.

Once home we opened the plastic bag and saw a little white sheet of paper with product information. It contained all kinds of information including the price and what animal the toy was supposed to represent. And so from then on we referred to the toy by the name from the label. Somehow we never questioned that. Didn’t bother I guess.

So here’s the toy. Can you tell which animal it is? Place your guesses in the comments. The one who guesses right will receive an invitation to the yearly Sinterklaas party and get a set of Sinterklaas presents.

Round up on Tuesday, 20 August in the evening. Good luck!

P.S. Hint: it’s not a bear.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Brave New…

"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

Well that is still to come in 2540. Despite all optimistic forecasts on life expectancy it is safe to assume that neither I nor you are going to live to see that happen. But don’t be upset, the present is almost as bright. The only difference is that children are not conditioned in their sleep. Instead they are subject to aggressive conditioning every waking minute of their lives starting from birth.

This is how it goes:
I am a little girl
oh so cute and oh so sweet!

As sweet as an icecream.
In my world it's all about the looks.
I live a wild glam life
of constant party and fiesta.
My primary everyday concern 
is what to wear.
Of course I go for couture
and sparkling dancing shoes.
I get glamorous presents all the time.
I can also bake tarts

and grow flowers.
Which makes me a supergirl.
Everything is my life can be described as chique, pretty, glamorous, couture - all things that make a girl happy.
Kittens are cute.
So is Bambi.
I will grow up to be a lady blabla.
Until I glamorously die.

Obviously, I don’t do driving, scuba diving or sailing. Don’t expect me to be an athlete or play ball games of any kind. I don’t like robots, dinosaurs and rock music. Supermen are for boys. Did we cover all the life topics?

I think I'm done shopping for my little daughter.

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