• DIARY,  ESSAYS

    A Peculiar Speed Dating/e

    One of my acquaintances went to Speed Dating. She had met 20 or so men within the limit of two hours. Those men could have been “anyone,” and she ended up getting six numbers. “Amazing people,” she commented. “Physically?” I wondered. “Emotionally too!” she assured me. “I doubt it…” I shrugged. The idea that you could sample a personality – and a compatible one at that – through so brief an interaction, got me thinking, “What if Speed Dating had a night where men or women from history would get a few minutes’ acquaintance with you? How many fanatics, ruthless mass killers, and dictators would you recognize in those couple…

  • ESSAYS

    The Wake Up Call to Fall Asleep

    The ongoing lack of sleep and the shortage of time for accomplishing tasks are globally reprised complaints. 72.2% of high school students, over 50% of college and university students, and 36% of adults in Toronto have reported sleep deficiency in 2018. However, numerous studies suggest that an excess of sleep may be equally harmful with side-effects of depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Sleep deficiency is defined by less than 6 hours of sleep; an excess of sleep – by 9 hours and more. Certain studies imply that each person’s need for sleep must be determined individually, while preschoolers are recommended to average 10 to 13 hours per night. The so-called…

  • ESSAYS

    Italian Rhapsodies

    Many readers have enjoyed humorous descriptions of 18th century Moscow and St. Petersburg by one Italian adventurer who charmed the Russian nobility with his smooth manners. The acclaimed memoir, “The History of My Life”, is rich with witticisms and psychological observation. It had been translated into Russian in 1861 with a foreword by the editor who was none other than Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881). The author is Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798), who had travelled to Russia in 1764 in search of love and opportunities. Having proposed a reform of the Julian calendar to the Gregorian to Catherine the Great in 1765, Casanova lost patience with the White Nights in St. Petersburg, which…

  • ESSAYS

    Russia and Italy: A Musical Collaboration

    The world’s first opera, “Dafne,” premiered in 1600 at the Florentine court of the illustrious Medici. The Roman Jacopo Peri (1561-1633) was the composer. His second opera, “Euridice,” survived to our day and may be heard on YouTube. “Dafne” had been lost to time. While opera developed and thrived in Italy, music in Russia was mostly liturgical. The first opera performed in Russia was the comical “Calandro” by the Bolognese Giovanni Alberto Ristori (1692-1753) in 1731 when the exuberant August II of Poland had sent his Italian opera troupe to Anna Ivanovna of Russia for her coronation. Autocratic and imposing Empress Anna (1698-1740) detested boredom and welcomed the musicians to…

  • ESSAYS

    The Architects of the “Third Rome” and the “Venice of the North”.

    For centuries, Italy and Russia have led a cultural dialogue which few countries could match in mutual sympathy. Thus, a series of articles shall explore the historical and modern ties which Italy and Russia share, tributing Italians whose names are gratefully preserved in Russian memory, and honouring  the Russians whose works were inspired by Italy.    In 2016, Russian TV had shown one of the most successful historical dramas of the decade, commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of Russia. The heroine is Sofia Paleologa –the last Byzantine princess– who had become the wife of Ivan III. Raised in Rome, Sofia brought an extensive Italian entourage to Moscow. The TV…

  • ESSAYS

    A REFLECTION ON REFLECTIONS

    It was my first year in Canada. Recess in Grade 6. A few girls from Grade 8 beaconed to me – I was to become their next fashion project. “I like your gray eyes,” one of them examined my face like a canvass before procuring her mascara. I smiled in reply, “I think all shades are beautiful.” The girls seemed to agree in celebration of diversity. A pretty brown-skinned girl was making her way across the grounds. Our eyes met. Hers were striking jet-black. She seemed eager to join us, but the girls whispered to each other, “Don’t look at her.” Sensing their distrust, the girl continued on her way.…

  • ESSAYS

    TOGETHER

        Recently I had a talk with a CEO of a major joint venture company. He noted that only 1 or 2 out of 100 connections on LinkedIn had proved useful. Quality and productivity will always exceed quantity. How many connections have you helped this year so far? – 1 or 100? How many are still waiting for your aid? In 2013, I met a New York Times Bestselling Editor, whom I considered the best thing that happened to me in 2013. She was also the worst that happened to me in 2014. After promising to help me with my first novel, she took 9 months to respond, and…