Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Women's Day

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements.

Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former block. In many regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and St Valentine’s Day.

I was in Minsk, Belarus, on March 8, 1995. My company had won a contract to refurbish the Ecomir Laboratory, where radioactive and environmental samples were analyzed to assess the pollution left after the Chernobyl disaster.

Around 11 am, one of the Belarusian chemists came to tell me, the Ecomir director was inviting me and all the ladies in my team to a Women’s Day lunch. I had no idea what she was talking about, but we followed her to the big canteen of the Academy of Sciences, next to Ecomir.

The huge room was packed with Belarusian women. A lunch with vodka--of course-- was served and the Director presented me with hand-made straw place mates and a wooden tray crafted locally. Each of the female chemists in my team also received a gift.

Then the entertainment started. Children recited poems in Russian, or sang in groups, or danced in ethnic costumes. They were adorable. All I understood was Mamoushka and Baboushka! But I smiled, clapped hands, and hugged them.

I learned from the chemists in the lab that they were invited for dinner by the special men in their lives, husbands, fianc├ęs, lovers or brothers or sons. And they were not supposed to cook, clean or do any housework on that special day.

Of course, I had to close the lab after lunch and give them the afternoon off.

From my book, Rx in RUSSIAN,
Rx in RUSSIAN, international romance on kindle. Sweet and sensual novel with Russian culture. Armchair trip to Belarus,

“Today is Women’s Day in the Russian countries, a day when we celebrate our special women, Fyodor said. “Tonight, it will be just you and me.”
“Okay.” Yes, yes. Jillian needed to go out and forget her disappointment, brainstorm with Fyodor about a new solution for the orphan baby, but mostly she wanted to be with him. Alone with him. Maybe in his arms again. Oh yes. In his arms. His special woman. She smiled, her heart in her eyes. “I’d like to go out.”
“Dr. Vassilov.” Sofia sauntered toward them. Fyodor straightened up. “Your mama called us last night. My mama and I are coming to your apartment for dinner tonight. To celebrate Women’s Day.” She tilted her head coyly and granted them a sweet smile. “Maybe I can leave with you after work. Mama will go straight to your place.”
Fyodor stared at Sofia as if he’d seen a ghost. “Tonight?” Jillian stood, flicked a glance from Sofia to Fyodor, and walked to the door. “Jillian, wait.”
“Did you forget?” Sofia pouted.
“Uh... Yes. I’m sorry, I completely forgot. Jillian, please, wait.”
But she’d heard enough. Her back stiffened. Talk about embarrassing. She should have known better.
You are here on a mission. And that mission didn’t include being in Fyodor’s arms or sharing kisses. She was not the woman for him.
Sofia was the one.
The one his children needed. The one he should marry. The one who had a right to be in his arms.

Blurb: Fyodor Vassilov is a Russian widower, surgeon and officer. Duty demands that Fyodor provide a mother to his four little boys and marry a woman who loves children and big family. Jillian Burton is an American pediatrician on a mission to improve medical conditions in Belarus. Jillian blames herself and her ex-husband for their son’s death, and has lost her illusions about men and marriage.

When they work together for six months in his hospital, their fascination with one another shocks them both. Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?


Anonymous said...

Women's Day, hollister is always their favorite, just like like a flower

Celia Yeary said...

Mona--everytime I see you in this kind of setting, I am amazed. Our Mona, once a chemist in Belarus..very impressive.
I loved this tale! I can see why you had to give them the day off.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I look at those furry clothes and the snow and I can't help shivering. Yet I know its doable because there's a whole culture of people thriving in that cold, cold place.

You have such nice memories of your time there, Mona. I'm so glad you shared them. And the excerpt you posted really caught my eye. I know what it's like to feel that someone else has the inside track with a person you're interested in.

Enjoyed the post. Maggie

Vonnie Davis said...

Mona, thanks for sharing an experience and place we'll never be a part of. I loved it! And enjoyed the pictures, too. Reading your excerpt reminded me I should revisit Rx IN RUSSIAN. It's in my Kindle favorites.

Mona Risk said...

Tom, thanks for stopping by.

Mona Risk said...

Celia--I love the memories I have from Belarus. The time spent there was the highlight of my career as a chemist.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Maggie, I'll never forget the bitter cold. There was no place to hide from the cold as the apartments, hotels and labs were barely heated. I was shivering and drinking hot tea or hot coffee all day long, and at night vodka. What else.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Vonnie, both TO LOVE A HERO, and RX in RUSSIA count many of my adventures and memories from Belarus. The only thing I regret is that my husband never came with me to Minsk where I had so many friends. At least he accompanied me on my last business trip to Moscow in 2002 and he was agreably surprised by the magnificence of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Nancy Jardine said...

So...did you have an even bigger party after you closed the lab for the day? Great stuff, Mona!
What does Dos Vedanya (excuse th espelling) mean again?

Mona Risk said...

Hi Nancy, das vidanya (sp??) means goodbye. We had lots and lots of party there. It was so nice at the beginning, but at the end it was a nightmare, but that's another story.