Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book review and Musing of an Immigrant

The only kind of literature that I have been reading lately was Cook books and Gardening books. I will talk about those later. First I want to talk about book, that I accidentally picked up the shelf at Target  Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes  .  True it is still kind of cook book, since it contains some recipes. But it has so much more to offer. There is a romance, an adventure, some politics mixed in, and what appeals to me the most - an immigrant's point of view. Even if it is about life in France, not America, there are a lot of similarities in lives of immigrants everywhere.  Trying to "fit in" into the new culture, looking for friends, work, dealing with language barriers and :) People here often ask me if I like living in America more then Ukraine. The truth is, I can't even compare. First of all I grew up in a Soviet Union, the country that does not exist anymore, so almost everything that I associate my childhood with, isn't there either. Second, the adult part of my life in independent Ukraine was different because I was young and single and for the most parts care free. Now I am older, married and a mother of three kids. So of course it is very hard to compare. Do I miss seeing my family? Of course. The reality is lots of my relatives passed away, some moved to different parts across the globe and my Dad remarried. So when I think about parts of my life in my former home, my nostalgia is about my memories from the past, not present. I miss the vacation and holiday times the most.
 For example every May when the weather got warmer and flowers and trees started to bloom, my parents, me and couple neighborhood families visited Botanical Garden together. We lived pretty close, so it was about 20 minutes ride.  First we all visited a "formal part" we bought our tickets and went on a tour - there were so many different plants! Lilacs, peonies, tulips and roses - I can't even tell how many types of roses they had. By the way our city used to be called a "City of Million Roses", at one time. There were also different kind of trees - shade trees, flowering, fruit. I especially remember pretty fences that separated parts of the garden, the fences that were made out of growing trees - espalier fruit trees. It looked like this  . It looked even prettier in the Spring when those trees were in bloom. After taking a tour our families went across the road to the "other" part of  our Botanical garden. That part consisted of several meadows, couple ponds and some groves made of different kinds of trees. We had our picnic there. We shared our food and then played games like badminton, Frisbee, tag etc. Often my family attended plays at Drama, Ballet and Opera theatres, Puppet theatre and Circus performances ( we had a permanent circus building in our city, that hosted performances of many touring circus groups).  Every summer we managed to go on the family vacations - to the sea shore, or river bank. Those were good times.
Of course here in America, we had made lots of good family memories together too. Here in Utah we visited many National Parks like Arches, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, etc. The views are breathtaking!  Our vacations here are usually shorter, only 3-5 days at a time, unlike 2-3 weeks, that I got to spent on vacation with my parents, as a child. I think it is because life is more intense here and it is hard to put work problems aside and relax. There are more opportunities here - better car, bigger house, better position at work, etc. On my opinion this makes people feel that they are in a constant race, and makes it hard to slow down and "enjoy the sunset". 
Anyways, I really enjoyed reading the book. It made a contrast to  Sarah's Key , the book that we read for our book club last year.  That book was actually pretty good and had an two interesting story lines, one about events that took place in France during the Second World War and the other one about American journalist investigating those events in present time. I liked it, but to me it contained too many stereotypes about France and French people.  I do not like stereotypes in general. On my opinion, each person is different, no matter where that person lives. There are so many individual experiences and events in our lives that shape our character, it is almost impossible to generalize us in categories. But again, that is just what I think. May be I am so opinionated, because I am Russian LOL!


Ria's Random Thoughts said...

I love the idea of taking long family vacations. Pete's family would go to Greece for a month or more.

I would really like to do a two week vacation at least.

I think you are right about life being too fast pace.

You are right, we shouldn't sterotype people.

Natasha said...

Thank you Ria, I appreciate your comments. I do have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment AND count my blessings :)

Jaalsey B said...

This made me tear up a bit. I'm not sure how well I would handle so many dramatic changes...really, I think I would fall all apart. You're doing awesome!