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Friday, 17 February 2017

Learning THE OTHER Russian

I learned the hard way some bad words in Russian. But to start from my background. In Croatia it is very common whenever a foreigner comes and asks you if you can teach him few words in Croatian that you will start with, Hi, How are you?,  but really fast you transition to some not so nice words in Croatian. Actually it is a way to make people know that you accept them and you want them to be a part of your friends list. Croatian, in that respect is very rich. I think it is because we are really open and this is the easiest and fastest way to get rid of your frustration with - never ending paperwork, politics and lets not forget, traffic problems.

Now in Russia, I found people are very polite. Unless you catch them by surprise. They really don't want to tell you any bad words and if you find one by chance and tell it to them they blush, turn their heads away and don't want to confirm if you said it ok or it is completely wrong. So, after some time here I was very interested to know some phrases. At least to be aware if someone said it to me and not to look like a dumb foreigner.

I did have some luck. The catch is that you have to listen carefully to your friend, especially when she is talking to a plumber, delivery service or post office. So one day I had coffee with my friend and as she was discussing delivery for her washing machine and went of the phone after trying to schedule delivery time for at least fifteen minutes, her frustration finally came out and I had one word. Now, because this blog is nice, and I am still not sure if this Russian word composition is bad or really bad I will just put it in brackets with some dots (B.... M...)! The reason why I don't know is because when I tested it with few of my Russian friends, some didn't react and some nearly fainted.

The biggest breakthrough for me was when another friend, this time Estonian. They seem to be more open, although she will probably kill me now. Sent me a link to a popular Russian summer song (Leningrad - Exponat). Now my Russian this summer was not that good that I could understand all the words. And I was just too lazy to check the translation. I liked the song soo much I downloaded it as a ringtone. I was so proud to have a Russian song ring every time, in metro, in post office, in school. I wanted to show how I assimilated well. After this song was my ringtone for some time, I would say at least few weeks, I really got interested what it actually says in the song. Who better to ask than my Russian teacher. Poor lady, she is a teacher at university and a part of the well educated old Russian school. When I played it to her she nearly fainted and said she could not understand but will let me know next time. She really sped out of my apartment barely saying goodbye. Now I was a bit worried. Finally I found good girls at my dancing school who were willing to translate it.

What they explained is that this song is really popular but it has two versions, polite one and not so polite one. Of course I, the stupid foreigner, had the bad version on my phone. And than it started coming back to me. There were some strange looks in metro but the worst looks I got at school. I could really just imagine what the other parents and teachers thought about me. I removed song and decide not to test any more Russian songs without knowing proper translation first. And in relation to trying to get bad Russian words I have to wait to go and drink with my Estonian so I would get the words in controlled and familiar place not to come out as a dumb foreigner blond, again.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Hair and other Renovations

There are few types of renovations that became important as we moved to Moscow. First is rather pleasant, if conditions are right, and it is renovating your hair. More commonly known as - getting a haircut. The other one concerns apartments, but I am going to come back to that later.

Getting a haircut in the center of Moscow is not hard. Hairdressers are in every second building. The problem is the price and the length of service. Price for a women haircut can go up to 260 euro and above. So the trick is finding good service at right price. And being new in town there are not many people who can recommend the right ratio between price and quality. Even worse is trying to get my little boys hair cut. Russian hairdressers don't believe in hair cutter machines. They do everything with scissors. Getting into the artist role and it lasts for at least one hour. A wake up call came to me when my poor boy fell asleep in a hair saloon and they needed to use two people to cut his hair. One holding his head and the other cutting. And they would always cut his hair to one centimeter length. After this, I took up YouTube classes and became a 'professional' hairdresser for my boy. Husband still not trusting me enough.

For me it was a different story. I didn't doubt quality in good saloons but the price was over the top. First year I tried to get by, saying that grown out hair and color is in fashion. Luckily my friend became my saviour and found a girl that comes to your home. Affordable, practical and amazing with colors. You drink coffee, practice Russian and get your hair done in the comfort of your home.

But now let me get back to the other part of the renovation. And not with an ending as pleasant as the hair one. Just stay with me and imagine......
Monday, 10h in the morning, just about to have a coffee after sending kids to school and than.....BANG, BUMP, WIZZZZZZZZZZ. Floor shakes a bit, but at first I am thinking it is just a Metro train passing by, although I have never felt it before. Then after few minutes everything becomes clear since, instead of listening to music I listen to a drill drilling for next five hours. They are renovating apartment above us. I leave the house and try not to be home as much as possible.

But little did I know that renovations in Russia are completely different from any other renovation I have ever encountered in my life. First of all, they ambush you. During your three year stay you have to factor in that in every building in Moscow, being old or new, there is at least two to three apartments waiting to be renovated. So there is no way to avoid it and they start out of the blue, just when you are about to feel relaxed in your apartment!

Second, they last. And when I say last it can be everyday noise from ten am till six pm (if you are lucky and they don't decide to continue throughout the night) for next three to six months. Just recently I visited my friend living in a really nice area and there we found the record of renovation for now. A house is being renovated for at least two years. Meaning workers are there everyday working on something. And it is not some wealthy politicians villa in which they are installing golden toilets, as far as I know.

From the moment we moved into our apartment I think in total we had one month of no noise. And same thing happens to all friends I talk to. I still did not manage to try and talk to the workers to get the proper insight. Are they so thorough, or they like long breaks (not according to the amount of drilling we hear). Promise will try to get down to the bottom of the subject next time I see a worker. Maybe even join them in order to fully understand!!