Aaaahhh, from Russia with love…
A phrase that was made popular after Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, “From Russia with Love” followed by the blockbuster live-action film of the same name in 1963, featuring the late Sean Connery – possibly the most iconic James Bond ever in cinematic history.
Oh, how I totally agree with that phrase!
For me, as a Malaysian woman who’s had the opportunity to work among Russian diplomats and expats some years ago, I’m more than happy to share my own personal story. It first began when I secured a meeting with the former Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Malaysia, Her Excellency Liudmila Giorgievna Vorobyeva in 2014.
Our collaboration began with the 20th Anniversary of the Russian Constitution and the rest, as they say, was history. I acted as a media consultant for the Russian Embassy at that time, securing media interviews to promote their events and campaigns.
It was one of the best experiences in my entire career! H.E. Liudmila Giorgievna Vorobyeva was one of the most brilliant women in the diplomatic circle I’ve ever met and her Personal Assistant at that time, Polina Matveycheva made our arrangements much easier. In fact, she is still one of my good Russian friends until today.
Here are some of my best memories working with the Russian Embassy in Malaysia!
Media Luncheon with the Russian Embassy
We invited some journalists and bloggers to come for an introduction session with the Ambassador. Back then, despite already having Internet access and Social Media, the awareness was still not that great. So it was my job to seed out human interest stories related to the Russian culture.
I remember it was a Saturday afternoon and my media friends were quite excited to attend. After a presentation by H.E. Liudmila Vorobyeva on Russian history and a performance by the young Russian dancers, we enjoyed a fabulous Russian buffet spread.
Trust me, if you’re not familiar with Russian food, you may find them odd. However, once you’ve tried them, you’ll love them! I remember Polina whispering to me to try the Ryba pod marinadom (fish cooked in carrot sauce). Believe me, I still cook this dish from time to time.
The Art of Russian Luxury by Moiseikin
This was one honest-to-God complicated event to organise but we managed to secure a space at the National Visual Art Gallery for Moiseikin, a family-owned Russian jewellery brand from Ekaterinburg.
The founder, Viktor Moiseikin brought in his prized Cornucopia – Horn of Plenty, which was actually a jewellery clock made mostly of the gemstones from the Ural mountains. I can’t recall the actual price, but I believe it was about USD 2 million. So, Polina and I joked by calling it ‘Siput Orang Kaya’ (A rich man’s snail) because of the shell-like shape.
Anyway, I still haven’t approved Moiseikin’s request on Facebook until today, haha, sorry! My Facebook is private, by the way.
The STS Pallada in Penang
Aaah, my former intern, Nazrin and I went to Penang when the training ship STS Pallada arrived in Penang. H.E. Liudmila Vorobyeva told us that Pallada was inspired by Greek goddess, Pallas Athena.
By the way, an interesting fact! At that time, all military personnel at the Russian Embassy shared the same first name – Sergey, which caused confusion for our military officers at MINDEF, haha! I don’t blame the latter, because some Russian last names can be quite tricky to remember. Back then, there were Zhevnovatiyy, Belyankin and Raschevsky.
Nazrin and I also visited the Russian graves in Penang, an aftermath of the Battle of Penang in 1914.
The Commemoration of the Battle of Penang
By the time we helped the Russian Embassy with this event, Nazrin was no longer my intern, so it wasn’t that much fun. I remember falling on my ass after a series of Za Zdarovia with my Russian friends. Not my proudest moment, trust me.
Anyway, working with the Russian Embassy also opened more doors of opportunity for me afterward, for which I am eternally grateful. On a more personal side, I realised that I have learnt so much from the experience. After a few months, I realised that I could read some Cyrillic – although I had noooo idea what I read.
I also learnt how to cook some Russian dishes including Golubtsi, stuffed cabbage rolls and Stolichny Salad (some call it Oliver Salad, or just Russian Salad). My friend, Varvara said, after this, I must learn how to make pelmeni and manty – Russian dumplings!
So, to all my Russian friends, Happy (belated) Russia Day on 12 June 2021! Thank you for the once-in-a-lifetime adventure!