Met many happy people at a random picnic in Greenbelt Park, which was announced on RussianDC.com on Friday. The instigators, Vitaly and Misha, showed up with two pots full of pork, and I with a chocolate raspberry cake. We tried to find a secluded spot, so the police wouldn't see the beer. Turns out Misha knew Greg from the Takoma Park aikido dojo. Small world moment. Another Misha showed up with Alena, Julia, then Elly and Leo, and then Olga. Then, in the midst of heating up the grill, skewering the meat, and making tomato salad, the police showed up and said the party needed to move to a less secluded spot. Well, at least they didn't take the beer, so except for the wasted coals, there was nothing lost. I got a ride to the new spot in a car that had the soundtrack from "The Triplettes of Belleville". More people arrived, including Andrew, Volodya, Lena, Leo, Zaur, and Anna who happened to know the artist Anna Shakeev from the Torpedo Factory, and Oleg whom Masha and I met earlier at the UMD Valentine's dance. Oleg was getting interested in Hillel stuff, to my surprise. Anna told me about how much fun the artists from the Torpedo Factory have - I guess I never thought of Russians as a particularly artistic lot, but there were at least two graphic designers at the picnic, and two other who had attended MICA. More small world moments. But, less about art, more about food - Volodya had brought and cooked a competing lot of pork blobs. Of course, besides the bbq people brought all the standard fixings like bread and pickles, and somebody brought honey pepper Nemiroff, but fortunately, I only found that out towards the end of the bottle, so there wasn't any temptation of yummy vodka to resist. After the eating, a game Durak in a format that I had never seen before - same rules without passing, an even number of people, and alternating people form teams, so a person on your team never goes against you and never adds cards against you. Lots of people were speaking Ukrainian, and even singing Chervona Ruta, and it made me wonder why I've always been so anti-Ukrainian - I guess I just didn't know so many cool people spoke it!
Also, there were more people whose names I didn't find out or didn't remember. I'm hoping that listing all the ones I do remember here will help me remember them even longer.