Saturday, 12 May 2012


Tenth birthday: my party was cancelled because my great-grandmother died. Nobody told me that she had died, but suddenly one day her bed was empty. They didn't take me to the funeral. I had my party the following weekend. Don't remember anything special about it. My mother used to have nice birthday parties for me, with dressing up and party games. I invited classmates and some neighbour children. 

 This is not a birthday photo, but as close to the age as I have. There are very few photos from my childhood.

Twentieth birthday: newly married and moved from a luxury apartment two block from the Kremlin to my husband's tiny room with shared kitchen and bathroom with another family, in an industrial zone outside Moscow. Nevertheless huge party with friends and my father and aunt (don't remember why my mother couldn't come). I had baked a huge cabbage pie and bought a cake. My father said it was sacrilege to put birthday candles on a cake from a shop so they had to go on the cabbage pie. I was pregnant, but didn't know it yet. 

Thirtieth birthday: my first birthday in Sweden. Staffan not particularly responsive to the idea of celebrating such an insignificant birthday. I was pregnant and it had started showing. The year before, which was my last birthday before I left Sweden, I had a huge party with all friends, effectively a farewell party. Funny posters, poems and songs, flowers, presents. Joyful and sad.


 A 17th-century mansion where I spent my first year in Sweden.

Fortieth birthday: after the previous ten failed attempts, I decide to celebrate in Moscow. Sixteen very carefully selected friends invited to a sit-down dinner in a friend's apartment. I was going to say: Don't remember why I could not do it in my parents' apartment, but I remember now. The apartment was being renovated. I went to a bank to change a hundred dollars into roubles. My friend told be to bring a big plastic bag. I didn't get it. The bank gave me two million roubles in ten-rouble notes. I bought a huge piece of meat at the farmer's market and made a roast in my friend's tiny kitchen. I had a sitting plan. I set the table Western style, with individual, very pretty starter platters. Afterwards, my friend told me that the other guests were shocked that I had become so Westernised and stingy. At a Russian party, you put dozens of starters on the table, and people help themselves until they are full and cannot eat the main. No pictures from that one.

Fiftieth birthday was grand. Castle environment, guests from all parts of the world, including Down Under; elegant three course dinner, speeches, poems, songs, and afterwards dance to the band of the Royal Guards in traditional uniforms. I cannot beat that. Sadly, many of the guests from that party are no longer among us.

The imminent sixtieth, at least as far as I know (although it has been hinted that some surprises are to be anticipated): a reception at Homerton, a family dinner in a fancy restaurant in Stockholm and a small reception for friends in Julia's apartment. Reports to follow.

1 comment:

anton said...

2 million rubles in ten rubel bills would weigh two hundred kilos. How on earth did you get it out of the bank?