Monday, 6 April 2009

we stand under it, but we don't understand it (night)

(petrozavodsk - 1950s, you can see the Finnish Embassy there)
Greetings.

Nothing much has been happening really since the last post but I'll try to conjure something out of nothing in the vain hope of entertaining you.

It was Sergei's birthday last Wednesday, he's the 22 year-old ex-Spetsnaz sniper who occupies the room next to mine. Needless to say when I came home on Wednesday night after football (more on that later) I was greeted by a strange reception by him and his mates, until I was told to 'proxodi na ctol / come to the table' at which point the vodka began to flow and the eating and drinking marathon started.

there were toasts, there were jokes and there was drink. I can honestly say that I did pretty well for 4 hours of solid drinking, but the surprising thing was that at 1 o'clock (one hour after I'd started my own drinking ramp up with this guy next to me) they all went out clubbing. yes that right, they went out. they were seriously, seriously fucked. I went to bed. I didn't go to uni. and I think I'm still feeling a little peaky after it 4-5 days later.

After football, and the communal shower with several middle-age men, I was asked by one man, Sergei, who has few teeth and a rocket of a right foot, if I believed in God (he actually asked me in English). To this I replied, actually, no, not as such, not really (trying best to be polite as possible since I had a faint suspicion that he did believe in God, like most Russians.)

This faint suspicion was immediately confirmed by an answer of 'yes' when I asked him the same question, when he said 'I am a pastor in the country'. Now I don't know why, but this immediately made me feel incredibly guilty, because he's such a nice bloke and for some reason I equated my saying no to his question of whether I believed in God to reflect badly on him, and his entire congregation. When, in actual fact, it has no bearing whatsoever.

I'd also like to point out that generally I don't understand a word the people say during football on Wednesdays, since it is a highly refined mix of slang and swear-words. It is one of my goals that by the end of my time here, I will at least understand 50% of what they say.

Also, as you probably won't know, its actually the 200th anniversary of Gogol's birth, and as he's a revered national literary figure of both Russia and Ukraine, there are festivities to be had. One such festivity includes the production of a feature film based on the story of Taras Bul'ba by Gogol by the state television network 'Rossiya'. Advertisements are subtle. In fact, they're actually subliminal. They flash the words 'TARAS BUL'BA' in between certain adverts.
Adverts for other televison shows are also fairly amusing, since on Channel 2 (Rossiya) they tend to at the end of the advert say ''Love as a motive', 10.20 on Channel 2, Russia!' Saying 'Russia' as both a statement of the channel and tv network but also saying it like, oh yeah, its in Russia (and therefore intrisincally better than stating any other possible country).

On another advert for 'Kamenskaya - The Real Colonel' (female detective gets involve in vaguely international scandals and/or murder mysteries, they've taken video clips of the actress saying stuff like '9o'clock on Channel 2, all Russia will be watching!' so that if you don't watch you are instantly set apart from the rest of Russia, marking you out as some kind of horrible individualist.

1 comment:

danhartland said...

Can't quite decide if your time in Russia consists more of drunkeness or embarrassing social faux pas. Maybe both, AT THE SAME TIME.

Loving it.