I'll just go ahead and rant if you don't mind...
30.07.2009 - 11.08.2009 15 °C
So as I mentioned in July I was having Russian classes and in the last two weeks we had a different teacher who had some quite bizarre philosophies. As does often happen in Russia-we all know not to sit down on a stone surface for fear of going infertile or for this same reason immerse oneself in cold water. As one Russian girl I met said "We must think about our futures".
In one of these classes we had to watch a video on water its emotions. This is quite a simplified explanation of the whole concept but that was it in a nut(ty)shell. We received concrete proof for this of course which is the high incidence of disease where a nuclear explosion has occurred. This of has nothing to do with the nuclear waste but to do with the upset molecules in the water. Koneshno.
In spite of our ideological differences I can't deny that the teacher is a lovely, lovely lady, an excellent teacher and an all round example of the nicest kind of Russian - very generous, hospitable and well-meaning.
So kind in fact that when we had a day off she took us to her dacha and we met her in-laws who offered us vodka with our lunch (we declined) and fed us. I have always wanted to go to a dacha but I have never had the opportunity so this was really exciting. A dacha is a kind of summer house which is usually quite basic but more or less equipped with all the necessary amenities. The dacha was, like all dachas, right in the middle of the countryside and it was really beautiful. Most of dachas are built by their owners, including the basic plumbing. There were lots of little gardens in which they grew herbs (or a herb: dill) and vegetables. It was quite impressive and we had a lovely time.
About a week later, she also took us to a music concert which we really enjoyed.
However, as so often happens with Russia my trip has taken a turn for the worse. There is no question that being in Russia could never be boring as it's always full of ups and downs.
The first not so fun story I have is actually of my own doing. I went to visit Lena (my previous khoziyaka) again and she and a friend took me to a different part of the Onego lake, a bit further out of town, where we had a nice walk (on clean sand unlike in the beach at Peski) and had a chat about all sorts. Her friend drove us both but didn't talk much and as we were getting out of the car on the way back I slammed the door shut, which was a bad idea for two reasons. The first of which that it was an old car with a heavy door and the second of which was that Lena was standing with her finger hooked over the roof, in the door. I'm almost certain I broke her finger. It bled and went purple. I felt so, so guilty especially since she burst into tears, but because she was so nice she invited me in for tea and biscuits. We sat and drink tea with her trying to stop crying and with me incessantly apologising and agonizing over my clumsiness.
Then, later that week, I received some bizarre news was that my khoz (host lady) who like I said, has been getting steadily more and more insane, suddenly dropped the news on me that I would be sharing a room with her 8 year old grandson. During his three week stay I would have at least eight (and possibly more) hours of English lessons to prepare for, each day which would be impossible, when I could never be alone since she sleeps in the living room and I in the only other room. She doesn't let me be as it is now. She had also scheduled me to teach him English while he was there. I am actually supposed to have my own room so I called the school and they told me to move my stuff while she was out. and I temporarily moved to my Swedish friends' flat.
Long story short: My lovely khoz decided I had been lying and hadn't understood (which I know I did) and refused to refund the money to the organisation (which I suspect had something to do with the sofa she had just bought two days earlier) which resulted in an enormous conflict with the school and the khoz threatening to take them to court. However, this was one battle I actually won and I moved into a new family a week later. This family was really, really nice and hospitable. They didn't let me buy any food and we chatted a lot over tea. I do love Russian tea. It's a pity that I didn't stay with them from the start.
But anyway, all is not lost. I have had a fun summer and I did manage to do all my arguing in Russian which just shows that I have at least gained something from this experience.
And...just to end on a fun little anecdote; I was looking for a thank you card for the family I had been staying with and in three shops had no luck. I didn't even manage to find a blank card. This was because all I could find were cards for all the different professions' days, the most common of which seemed to be "Happy Accountant Day!" (21st of November). In the end I had to by the nearest thing to a blank card I could find and glue down the pocket on the inside. DIY Hallmark. Novel.
Only in Russia...