Sunday, 16 October 2016

Is Russian Worth Another Go?

I'm rekindling an old romance. I don't think it's serious... I'm just toying with him... but you never know. His name is Russian. We parted thirty years ago, after going steady for two whole years. I left him for English. Who was a lot less complicated.

Russian was so not my idea. We ended up together because of a school friend of mine. Actually, it was her mother's fault. She was a beautiful woman, my friends's mother, whose manfriends changed at regular intervals. My friend was forever competing for her attention, and the latest beau spoke Russian. So, as soon as she got wind that the neighbouring school was putting on extracurricular Russian classes and was looking for more students to make up numbers, my friend had to go for it. But not alone.
So, you want us to walk all the way across town to learn... Russian?! 
Yeah, it's gonna be such fun! 
On a Friday afternoon? You think I've nothing better to do?!?

And so, off to Russian we went. There were only seven of us. One of them was the teacher's long-suffering son, another one had long blue hair. As for the rest, I do not remember. We were taught by a flame-haired Hungarian woman who was all but four feet tall, but made up for it by sheer force of energy, killer heels and lashings of green eye shadow.

Every week, she made us take turns reading aloud from the textbook and I was terrified before each lesson because of that. I hate reading aloud. In any language. To this day. But I loved writing, and so I started writing my teenage diaries in Cyrillic script. I still have them, and I'm glad I do, because I can remind myself of how to write cursive Cyrillic. (Just in case it gets serious again.) It seems I was quite creative back then, using half a Cyrillic "х" (as in the word хорошо) to represent the letter "h", which doesn't exist in Russian. My invented cursive version looks like a back-to-front Roman "c".

My sweaty-browed weekly stammerings culminated in a glorious reward: five days in Moscow, during a time when the iron curtain was still firmly drawn shut. We ate blinchiki topped with sour cream and red caviar for breakfast every morning. My friend managed seven in one sitting. I was in awe. She was severely bulimic, which I didn't know at the time. It did, however, get her mother's attention.

We queued up in a bakery for half an hour and came out with two carrier bags full of mini-bagel shaped things that tasted of nothing and had the texture of recycled cardboard.

You asked for 2000g instead of 200g, didn't you? 
Next time, YOU do the talking!

Russian and I are on cautious terms. So far, our dates have been limited to a daily ten-minute frisson on Duolingo - four days and counting.

I have a confession to make: I ditched Italian for Russian. Poor Italian didn't see it coming. We had a two-day fling back in early October. Yes, you could say I led him on. But it's just not gonna work out for us right now. I've already got plenty on my plate with his rambunctious brothers, Spanish, Portuguese and French. There's waaaay to much Romance in my life! It's their verbs that get to me the most: there's fifty different versions for each and every one of them; different tenses, different moods - I cannot cope with another helping of this nonsense, I just can't.

Russian, on the other hand, bypasses superfluous verbiage altogether. "She my mother." "Where Park?" "Your father here." "This not bus. This taxi". Nothing could be more attractive to me right now. Darn it, Russian is roping me right in with his seductive straight talk!













11 comments:

  1. Love this, Simone! Best of luck with your new beau!

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    1. Thanks June! I think I'm just using him as a diversion at the moment... but it's fun ;-)

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  2. Kind of [i]shibboleth[/i] for Russian: How much is 10 times 100 grams?

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    1. Hi Oleg! Once I'll get to the numbers (again!) I'll let you know ;-)

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    2. It's not about numbers...

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    3. I see that I'd better post it in Duolingo. The trick is that only Russian will answer '1 liter' instead of '1 kilogram'

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    4. Clearly I have A LOT to learn! haha

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  3. Admit it, you may be playing coy but really, the Russian crush is back. :-)

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    1. After all this time in blissful denial... AHRGHGGHHH! How's your Indonesian coming along?

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  4. Hehe, my main take away from this (other than a severe case of giggles) is that, no, German just doesn't have enough tenses!! How many times have I trailed off into silence, desperately searching for a past subjunctive conjugation that doesn't exist...

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    1. Russian only has one past tense :) (As far as I know). YIPEEE!

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