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Friday, 22 June 2012

Where's Uncle Joe?


The problem with living in a place like Moscow for an extended period of time is that you begin to take for granted a lot of the cultural and historical attractions the city has to offer. It's not that you don't want to see these things, you really do. I mean, why else did you come here if not to absorb some Russian culture? But there's always a reason not to; I'm not a tourist; I have a lot of work to do, friends to see and alcoholic beverages to consume; I'm going to be here for a while, so there's plenty of time; I'll just wait until friends and family come to visit and I can be all smug and play tour-guide etc.

That's all well and good, but here I am, 14 months into expanding my cultural horizons/laying the groundwork for a career in ELT/avoiding the 'real' world back home, and I have yet to visit, among other places, the Kremlin, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, or Lenin's Mausoleum. Shameful right?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Russian Correspondence II

The second letter is a little creepier.

Last weekend I found myself at a bit of a loose end, so partly out of necessity for leaving the house and partly due to a craving for junk food I found myself wandering down Novyy Arbat in the rain. I took shelter in Wendy's and settled down with my curly fries and a copy of A Very Short Introduction to Linguistics (oh yes, I know how to party!). 

After half an hour or so, I'm distracted from the history of Indo-European by the guffaws of two teenage boys. I look up to see that the object of their derision is a young man in the far corner apparently dancing silently in his chair to a music video on his laptop. He's wearing headphones and seems blissfully unaware of anyone around him. I smile to myself, remember that this is Moscow, home of the crazies, and go back to a comparative grammar of Greek and Sanskrit (OK yeah, I'm just trying to sound clever now).

Unfortunately it seems there was one person our beheadphoned friend was not unaware of. Another hour passes and I figure it's time to head home. As I stand up to leave he walks over to my table. He's rather short, even by Russian standards, wearing a tweed jacket over an argyle sweater vest and there is something of the Cheshire cat about his grin. He asks, in Russian, to introduce himself to me. I throw back the old 'I’m sorry I don't understand, I don't speak Russian' coupled with an apologetic shrug and turn to go.


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Russian Correspondence I

So I know this post is a little overdue but I had been struggling to think of something to write about. I could have written about my new digs, but that involves talking about my witch of a landlady and I don't want to give myself an aneurism. Men might have been an interesting topic, but I'm not seventeen, and I learnt from experience that blogging in too much detail about your personal life does not tend to endear you to those involved in it. Plus my love life is an embarrassment that barely deserves such attention. Whole books could be filled with hypotheses about what goes on in the heads (and other parts) of Russian men, and I think I'll leave that to more capable and, ahem, 'experienced' writers.

Having said that, whilst still mulling over what to post, I came across two pieces of correspondence that I thought were worth sharing. They are both letters, of sorts, written by Russian men, but that's about where the similarities end.