Indulgences and Some Pleasures

Weekends are usually very nice and I look forward to it very much. The first qualifying criteria to have a great and happy weekend is to have all the work in the office well taken care of the week before. If there are still work not taken care of, not necessarily finished because the larger part of my work involves some very long term timelines such as the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and the ISO14000 and Green Certification projects, then the weekend will not be that enjoyable as I will have a very bad nagging feeling inside me and I won’t feel at peace.

So yesterday was great. Not only we played Go and Shogi in the Japan club but also in the night, we played Risk. Alex, Philip, Zaid, Jacky & Chi Kuan came and with the new and improved Risk, we played until 3 something in the morning. There are many other ideas to improve the Risk some more and make it more enjoyable and to also increase its strategic and tactical gameplay but just the basic gameplay itself takes 3-4 hours to finish. It is still very enjoyable nonetheless, a good break from the “serious” strategic game that is Go.

I really appreciate these friends of mine. They are really great and interesting personalities.

Then today just right in the morning, I woke up quite early despite sleeping at almost 4am last night, I read some Isaac Babel. I managed to finally buy a copy of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ISAAC BABEL and looked forward very much to read more of him. That is probably the reason for me waking up early. Babel is another great story writer and for me rank right up there with other Russian writers, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, all three whom I love, but loving Chekhov the most among the three and Dostoevsky second.

It is perhaps by pure coincidence or perhaps it is the work of my subconscious mind, I popped in Shostakovich’s 13th symphony into the CD player (Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Decca), one of the greatest symphonic works and can stand side by side with the greatest Mahlerian symphony (okay…. tsk tsk… Mahler is still the GREATEST!!). Babel is a victim of the dreaded Stalinist regime and Shostakovich’s work is also a criticism of the Stalinist regime. The combination of these two sent shivers down my spine and reminds me of how lucky I am to be born in this era in Malaysia.

The 13th symphony is actually a choral symphony, putting into music the goosebumps-inducing texts by the Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Some excerpts:

From Babi Yar that speaks about the Nazi massacre of over 100,000 civilians, mostly Jews but also consist of other races: “There is no Jewish blood in my blood, but I feel the loathsome hatred of all anti-Semites as though I were a Jew – and that is why I am a true Russian”. It is a call for all humanity to put an end to Racism. Racism has caused just too much blood to spill.

Also, here’s an excerpt from Fears: “They stealthily subdued people and branded their mark on everyone: when we should have kept silent they taught us to scream, and to keep silent when we should have screamed.”

These are just excerpts of the harrowing text. Now, imagine Shostakovich’s music accompanying these texts. (Then read about what happened to Isaac Babel)…

Maybe I should have Pelmeni and some Vodka for lunch afterwards…..

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