Wednesday, July 25, 2012

And now that I've filled you in on Scotland

... I can start catching you up on Russia!

I haven't actually got a lot to say about Russia, in the same ways that I didn't have a lot to say about Thailand, or the Caribbean. I'm not hear on holiday, it's work, and it does alter the way you see everything. Things I might love as a visitor are just seriously irritating when I'm trying to get something done, and instead of having a food adventure and exploring the fridge contents of a Russian house, I sulk because I can't figure out what anything is, and I just want some damn comfort food already.

Please, don't judge me too harshly for not making the most of it. I know I haven't and I do have regrets, but I can't do everything at once (I'm still coming to terms with this thought, I haven't really accepted it yet).

All these excuses, and no real substance to what promises to be a good adventure, it doesn't bode well. But it is just because I don't know where to start. Perhaps with the day I arrived, and at 10pm or so I cracked, and had to ask when it was going to get dark- this turned out to be some time between 10.30pm and 11pm. No midnight suns then. I was vaguely hopeful, but knew that we weren't really going to be that far north, sadly. It would've been neat.

The conversation that evening also turned to languages- I couldn't understand any of what was being said by anyone, not in itself unusual. What curiosity I did discover was that although I couldn't speak German (apparently this would have been helpful for talking to one woman), my (rather basic, and very rusty) Spanish would be. There is one man who speaks Russian and very little English, so it came as quite a nice revelation to discover that he is fluent in Spanish. I think my Spanish is a little better than his English, although not by very much.

It has been quite an experience for me, having to try and speak and understand another language as the only means of communicating with another person- my poor skill in Spanish is the lowest common denominator as it were. Previously I've got along fine with speaking English and gesturing, but when you know that you share some skill in the same language, one feels a curious obligation to attempt to speak it with them, rather than gesturing like a pair of monkeys. It's actually quite a lot of fun, seeing what I can understand. Although I rather tested the limits at one point by not thinking before using the excellent line "Que significa 'Ye nada'? " which is "What does 'Ye nada' mean?" 'Ye nada' being a Russian phrase I hear often. It sounds very similar to the Spanish 'de nada' meaning 'it's nothing' but the context (and tone!) didn't make sense. Of course his attempt to explain it in Spanish went beyond my vocabulary, and into his English, which he eventually translated as 'No make'. Hehehe. It was an amusing realisation that of course asking "what does that Russian word mean?" in Spanish was bound to give a challenging result. But a fun one. And we did get there in the end. I think, from the context, that 'don't' or 'don't do it' is closer, but hey, it's all learning. And it could just be the funky linguistic counterpart to an English "Child, please don't" is "Child, please no make" in Russian.

On that amusing note, I shall leave you there, as it is past my bed time, and if I'm not asleep soon the small people who live in the cellar and make the house work will come and get me. Apparently. 

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