05 October 2006

первый блин является комом

Yesterday was a good day.

First, during my balalaika lesson, this woman bursts into the room, says a bunch of stuff to Natasha that I don’t really understand, and starts accompanying my (painfully slow) balalaika-playing on the piano. She turned out to be really friendly and contagiously energetic and later said a lot of stuff I did understand (including an adorable story about a friend of hers who studied in Anchorage and then in Boston and then married a guy from Anchorage and thereby gave hope to all Russian women who haven’t found true love yet), but I still have no idea who she was. Situations like this are always funny when you’re functionally alinguistic, because you get this sense that there’s information missing from the picture, but there’s no way to figure out what it is. (Of course, that can also be frustrating, but not in this case.)

Second, as I was scurrying around trying to find a place to print the lesson plan and handouts for my evening adult class, the following conversation ensued (in Russian, of course):
Woman at the photocopy center: So, why do you speak with an accent?
Me (amused): Because I’m from America.
Her: Oh. What were you doing in America?
Me (more amused): Umm... well, I was born there.
Her: Oh. But you’re Russian, right?
Me: What? No!
Her: OH. Hmm. In that case, what are you doing here?
Me: Oh, I’m an English teacher at DVGU, etc. etc.

She thought I was Russian! That’s always exciting, especially if they keep thinking you’re Russian after you’ve spoken more than one sentence. As I was leaving, she said, “Come again, and we can practice Russian!” Cute! I love how kind people here are.

Third, after the adult evening class (which I was half an hour late for, because of rush hour), I said something in Russian and one of the students exclaimed to another, “She talks so fast! And with such a strange accent!” This is a compliment because speaking as fast as a Russian in Russian is hard; and having a strange accent might not be a compliment, but in my book it’s better than having an American accent. And when I asked her what she meant, she explained that my accent is “cute.” Whatever that means!

Then I went home and accidentally dumped an egg crate with four eggs still in it onto the floor. Three of the eggs fortuitously landed in the empty trash can (completely empty – no bag or anything) and the fourth oozed under the TV stand. It didn’t ruin my good day, but it provided, shall we say, a counterpoint. I never noticed before what an interesting consistency raw eggs have.

So, I’ll have to get around to putting up pictures from our trip to Russian Island last weekend (facebook users can see them in my facebook profile). I’d also like to write about the election that’s coming up this Sunday, because learning about it and observing the campaigning that’s going on has been an interesting window into Russian culture (and politics, of course).


Anonymous said...

So, the incident wth the eggs reminded me of the time co-worker Eric was taking care of Pete the photographer's dog and fish. Absurdly full-to-brim fishbowl on top of TV, Eric chasing dog around living room to try to get leash off him. Dog bumps into TV set, fishbowl sloshes over, fish lands under the TV stand, amid the dust bunnies, paperclips and rug fuzz. Eric flattens himself on floor, extends arm under TV stand, finds the fish and plops him back in fishbowl. His comment at work was, "if that fish dies, it's not my fault!"

I figure the egg under the TV stand was a yucky mess ... and probably worse than the flopping goldfish!

Good work on the accent and the conversational speed. Perhaps people will believe you are from another part of Russia, such as Kazakhstan!


Lisa said...

Congrats on your cute not-American-sounding accent - your Russian must be getting really good! I've been told I have a "little kid accent" when I speak Russian - I'm not really sure how to take that...

<3, L

T.J. said...

Holy hell. This may be the funniest account of a foreign land I've ever read. I think the falling in love in the blink of an eye idea must be a very widely accepted thing in slavic cultures, because Ziva the Slovenijan girl was ready to marry me after a weekend. Given our divorce rate, I don't think it could be any worse than the way we do it here.