I have always dreamed of being able to find my way around the Milky Way, but I am completely lost on planet Earth as well, where orientation is more grounded, so to speak. I can identify the Northern Star and the Ursa Maior, and that’s where my science stops. Nice one for a Trekkie, right. Imagine being asked by the Captain to plot course for some quadrant and ending up in a completely different one, right in the belly of an interstellar entity that feeds on the panic of people with bad orientation skills. This being said, I love a good night sky photo, and some of these are quite exquisite.
Euro 2020, or as the Germans, ever sticklers for precision, call it, EM 2021 finally happened. And what a treat it has been so far. This was Finland’s first time ever at a major competition, and defender Paulus Arajuuri literally couldn’t stop smiling (the article is in Finnish, but so worth it for that radiant smile). The Germans filled in for that mate of yours whom you love dearly, although they keep playing What’s Up on guitar at every party cause it’s the only tune they know. We have all learned that Cristiano does not like Coke but idolises water and Paul Pogba does not like Heineken (though who can blame him), but the real hero is Andriy Yarmolenko, who, as a true Eastern European with an eye for business opportunities, likes them both. We were also blessed with this Swiss gentleman who succinctly sums up what it’s like to be a football fan and this Frenchman illustrating the moment when the drumroll is stopped by the harsh realities of life.
I’ll be honest, my first event in a big crowd since the start of the pandemic filled me with equal doses of elation and dread. And a whole load of other mixed emotions. I love football, I love watching it at the ground- and games as big as a European Championship tie pitting Hungary against holders Portugal in a sold out Puskás Arena are few and far in between. But there was so much questionable politics behind it: the safety of a capacity crowd, the handling of football as a populist weapon a day after Hungary passed deeply intolerant legislation aimed at LGBTQ minorities. I can only hope that football fandom in Hungary and the whole of Eastern Europe moves more in the direction represented by the little boy who, with a transfixed face, looked at his mum and said: ‘Mummy, I still like Ronaldo. He’s a very good footballer, I think, even if he is Portuguese.’
I was once sat at a table with several men. We were, on paper, all fans of the same team. As we were watching the game, I made a remark on our tactics, which fell on completely deaf ears, as if I wasn’t speaking (because, of course, for them, I wasn’t). The very same remark was later repeated by one of the boys, and they all congratulated him on his astute observational skills and deep footballing knowledge. And this is why it’s important, every damn day, to repeat that women can be interested in, and do whatever the hell they want, if that happens to be sports, so be it and here’s an article (in Romanian) about some women who dared and another one (in English) about the amazing Allyson Felix (which I mistyped as Fenix, and I like the idea), who is back at the Olympics to compete for a record equaling 10th medal after the traumatic birth of her daughter.
BACK IN THE DARK lockdown days, I decided that I would learn a bit of Greek on Duolingo, basically because I love to read the labels on products and I couldn’t do it properly when on holiday in Greece. In order to hone my newly acquired skills, I discovered the magically absurd world of contemporary Greek cinema (Yorgos Lanthimos is just the tip of the iceberg, folks). A good source for delightfully bonkers Greek films is MUBI, with gems such as Pity Birds, and The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea. From the latter I became familiar with the term for police. I am thus happy to share that Elliniki Astynomia found a stolen Piccaso, then dropped it, and finally propped it up in the most Greek way possible.
Like any respectable bookworm, I have, over time, erected a small fortress of unread books next to my bed. I often look at it fondly, and occasionally grab one of the books, and read it, then buy about six to replace it. For a long time the backbone, pillar and soul of the pile was the Infinite Jest. But then I read it, and was looking for something equally daunting to replace it with. I am now happy to share that I am successfully procrastinating the reading of The Eighth Life, Nino Haratischvili’s 930 page opus on the fate of modern Georgia. For more juicy recommendations of literature from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia, head here.