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.

Then comes the reply "Oh, you speak English? I can speak English" Rats! Why do I never think to try that line in Spanish instead?
"I want to tell you that you are very beautiful and I have written a poem for you." Well, it's straight to the point I suppose. “If I had known you weren’t Russian I would have written it In English.”
"Thanks" I reply nervously. I wasn't expecting that. I can feel my cheeks turning red as the guy at the next table tunes in to our conversation and tries to contain his amusement. There follows the usual questions; Where are you from?; What are you doing in Moscow? etc. To which my answers are mostly lies. Jack (I'm guessing not his real name), it turns out is 'a poet and actor' studying something to do with broadcasting at University, I’m not really listening but I nod politely. I try to bring the conversation to a close. The 'poem' is still in his hand; he seems reluctant to give it to me.
"Do you like the cinema?" Oh crap! How do I get out of this one? I'm panicking a bit now.
"Erm...I guess." *facepalm*
"Would you like to see a movie with me some time?"
"Maybe..." What?! No! Re-engage brain; "Why don't you give me your number and I'll get in touch?" -Better.

So I finally leave with a poem and Jack's phone number and VK id. And here it is, with English translation.

I lowered my eyes in prostration,

You will quietly say to yourself – yes.

Recline all of your troubles,

Transgress your unbeknown hall.

Your eyes make me their slave,

You are very beautiful Aphrodite and sweet,

You came from heaven like a Queen.

This poem is for you,

And I know that it’s alone in my mouth.

And again I look at you,

You are the discord of my love.

Weird huh? Suffice to say I won't be giving Jack a call, but curiosity got the better of me and I had a quick look at his profile. I was right, His name is not Jack; I'm guessing he mixed up the English-Russian equivalents. Rather more disturbingly however, his political standpoint is listed as ultra-conservative and his emails and screen names contain references to Hitler.

So thanks, neo-Nazi Casanova, but no thanks.

Thanks for the translation go to my friend Pytor, who is a much better writer/lyricist than young Jack. Go listen to his stuff! - Podzontommusic


  1. Welcome to Moscow its a mad place

  2. Oh dear. I wasnt sure if I should laugh or cry... or possibly have terrors now. Good job getting out of a potential date!

  3. Dear!!! I want you as an English native teacher for Discovery Preschool!!!!!

  4. Dear!!! We want you as a teacher for Discovery Preschool!!!!