Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Trip to Russian House

During the Olympics last month, there were around twenty or so hospitality houses from the different provinces, countries and a few major Canadian corporations (tho I'm not sure if the Mint qualifies as a corporation) and only a few of the Canadian houses are sticking around during the Paralympics. All of them had massive queues to get in, particularly the ones with a liquor licence -there was usually a three hour wait to get into Irish House which was in a tent next to a pub downtown. Since I was refusing to wait more then fifteen minutes in a queue, I only managed to get into one house during the two weeks, but I might try to get into a few houses on Friday.
Since Russia has the Winter Games next, I thought that I should make an attempt to stick it out and get into their House and I was in luck and only had to wait ten minutes on the afternoon that I went down there.
The Sochi organizers had taken over Science World as their pavilion for the Olympics, but they only had it open to the public from noon to just before 5 PM every day, which was rather odd. I had not been to Science World, which looks like a giant silver ball, since elementary school when we would be taken on field trips to check out it's cool Bill Nye science-y fun stuff.
I order to get into Russian House, you had to pass through an airport metal detector and the bouncers might search your bag. The bouncers, you can see one of them in the above photo next to the digital clock, were actually, IMHO, KGB agents. I say that they were KGB because they didn't talk, showed no emotion, wore matching suits and black overcoats, looked like they were armed under said coats and the older ones looked like they had killed people. I would have taken a picture of them, but I was afraid that I would disappear in the middle of the night. I have since talked to classmates who also went to Russian House and they also thought that it was the KGB. Did anyone else who watched the Closing Ceremonies think that it was strange to see images from Stalin's propaganda films included in the Russian presentation or that they have gone back to using the old Soviet anthem music as their new national anthem?
Once inside the house, you were greeted by this creepy holographic Russian couple, giving some trivia about Russia and their upcoming Olympics. I didn't know what to think of the hologram, since none of the other Russian representatives would speak to anyone without a media pass. But it would have been nice to talk to a human.

There actually wasn't a lot to do in Russian House
They had a massive model of Sochi and it's Olympic venues. But it was too large. Imagine the size of your living room, it was about that big.
There was also a continuous performance by these lovely ladies and their traditional band. They were my favourite part, but reminiscent of light entertainment on a cruise ship.
But I did take two short videos of their performance -just wait for it to fully load before watching.

Everything else was just geared for the media. Like this poster for an Olympic University. I wanted to know what an Olympic University was, but there was no one to ask and no leaflet to take.
There was a video of the high speed train being built in Sochi, but no mention of the war going on at the moment in the Caucasus Mountains which is where Sochi is.
There were also some random hot air balloons advertising a Russian bank for some reason, along with several other presentation alcoves with flat-screen television sets and lots of bright and shiny colours to promote various Russian and international corporations (like BMW) to members of the media and businessmen but not the visitors.
The only free stuff available were a giant basket of animal crackers and a girl handing out very hot tea in the cheapest and smallest paper cups available. I tried to drink it, but the tea softened the cup too quickly and burned me. There was also a bar, but it was closed to the public, which was the worst part since I wanted to sample the vodka and iced wine.
The only nod to the Olympics being about the athletes was a small display of hockey memorabilia, including the above jersey from the 1972 Summit Series where Canada beat Russia.
And finally there were some cardboard cutouts of I think Russian athletes with the Olympics mascots. Only this lady looks like she is scared but the plastic faced doll who is trying to kill her.
That was about it. I was only there for about half an hour and then I got bored and walked to nearby Chinatown to buy some candy.

1 comment:

Ivy Black said...

How strange... kitsch and scary at the same time. That holographic chap reminds me of Grizzly Adams.