02 October 2006

Who Djanik is and why he has my phone number...

After my last post I realized that you can't mention things like Russian men professing their love for you by text-message without people asking things like, "Who is Djanik and why does he have your phone number?" So here's the Djanik story, which isn't as funny in print as it was in real life, but I hope it'll be enjoyable anyway.

So it was my very last day in Moscow, and I was scurrying around trying to get all my packing done and loose ends tied up before the taxi came for me and L at 4:30. At about 3:00, I realized I didn't have any money left on my cell phone, and I needed to add some so I could call people from the road (expensively, since I'd be roaming, but nonetheless it's nice to have a way to contact people when your plane is going down in flames over Siberia, which was at that point more or less what I believed was going to happen). Since I was short on time, I went to the convenience store across the street to use the cell phone money-adding machine, instead of walking to the supermarket, where you can hand the money to a real person and she'll add it to your cell phone for you.

The problem was that I didn't really know how to use this machine, the cell phone equivalent of an ATM, and the directions were all in Russian. I bet I could have figured it out if I had stared at it long enough - I do speak Russian, after all, at least in some sense - but I didn't get a chance to try, because someone came up behind me, obviously waiting to use the same machine. I gestured to him to go ahead, saying (in Russian), "You go first. I don't know how it works." Being a nice guy (or a desperate guy), he then volunteered to help me, and even helped me get change from the cashier when the only bill I could produce was a thousand-ruble note (about forty dollars).

So I got the money put on the phone just fine, and that was about when the trouble started. Knowing that I couldn't use the standard Russian girl's excuses of either a) I don't have a cell phone or b) there's no money on my cell phone, he requested my number. Naturally, when I explained that I was moving to Vladivostok that very day, he didn't believe me, figuring this was just the best excuse I could come up with now that he knew I had a phone with money on it. So he insisted, in that slightly pushy way that I've now concluded all Russian men must study in school or something. At this point, I decided that giving in would be the easy way out, since I was getting rid of that phone number (a Moscow number) as soon as I got to Vladivostok anyway.

So I agreed. Here the situation took a tragicomic turn, because he wanted to write down his number to give to me, but he had a broken arm and was holding a bag of groceries in the other hand and didn't have a pen or paper. But eventually this was all solved by borrowing pen, paper and table space from the cashier, and I had the name "Djanik" (Armenian?) and a number written in an uneven left-handed scrawl on the back of my cell phone receipt. And he had my
number, because of course I couldn't convince him that I would call him (and he was right to doubt me - that receipt was headed for the garbage as soon as I was out of his sight).

From there things only got more tragicomic, because he called me only an hour later, literally while I was carrying my suitcase and rucksack down the stairs. Too flustered to explain that I was tied up, I just said, "Uhh... you have the wrong number!" and hung up, rationalizing that he had failed miserably at pronouncing my name and thus it was conceivable that I could have really not known who he was looking for.

He called a few more times while I was in the taxi, and I ignored it (rude, I know). I made my fatal mistake when he called while I was in the airport ticket line, by text-messaging back: "I'm in the airport and I can't possibly talk right now!" I hoped that this would convince him that I really was moving to Vladivostok and was therefore not worth pursuing, but instead it just caused him to text back in poorly-spelled Russian: "Please call me when you get there, I can't explain how strongly I have fallen in love with you. I kiss you. Djanik." I felt so guilty. This poor sap! (Or poor sap who wants a rich foreign girlfriend?) But not guilty enough to call him back and explain that I wasn't interested. So he called me a few (that is, ten) more times while I was on the road, I ignored his calls each time, and I bought a new phone number (not to avoid him, but to have a local Vladivostok number) a few days later. And that was that. But I half expect that if I were to put my Moscow SIM card back in my phone, I'd find a hundred missed calls, all from Djanik.

Next time, I'm just going to hold up my right hand (the wedding ring hand in Russia) and say that I'm married.


Lisa said...

I hate to break it to you, but holding up the wedding-ring hand is only usually effective if you're wearing a ring. :-)

<3, L

Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie,

In Hebrew the word for "like" and "love" is the same, so for someone to say I have fallen in love with you may also mean I like you a lot.

What word did he use in Russian? "Ya vlyublil'sya v tebya"?

Hilarious story, nonetheless. I love the cast aspect.


Leslie said...

Lisa - I should have explained that I have a ring on my right hand. It doesn't look much like a wedding ring, but it might do the trick.

Da - Yes, he said, "Ya tak sil'no vlyubilsya v tebya." I think there's only one meaning to that, but Russian is full of surprises for me!

Anonymous said...

Hi Girl!
I just got your blog address from your mom...and I am laughing aloud. I could vividly imagine the entire episode. You heartbreaker!

Mrs. G.
PS This is new to me. Hope I am doing it correctly.

Lisa said...

Ah, you have a ring. I was about to mail you a fake engagement ring, but I couldn't find mine. :-)

<3, L

Anonymous said...

Alas, poor Djanik - I knew him, Horatio - or at least someone like him - in Germany, in Switzerland, in Italy... They're everywhere, girl! Your story is hilarious. . .And believe me, if he was that moonstruck, the ring on the right hand wouldn't have mattered anyway. Someday, I'll tell you my Klaus story. . . .and the one about the phony English baron. . .and about the guy in the wooden mask at a FastNacht parade....and about Salvatore....and then there was the guy in Florence who owned the produce market....ooh, and the two fellas in Moscow who proposed to my roommate and me so they get their green cards. At least they were honest about that. Amour by any other name. . . .
It won't be the first time you get hit on. . . .Just smile and keep moving!
Love, Aunt Susie