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Cristina’s travels TAC 2015 Team Pushkin

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Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3702 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 161 of 297
19 November 2014 at 8:30pm | IP Logged 
rdearman wrote:
Another fascinating post. Have you considered taking up travel blogging? Or book
writing?


Thank you :-) I have thought about it - and you are not the first to ask :-)
1 person has voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
Heptaglot
Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3702 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 162 of 297
23 November 2014 at 10:16pm | IP Logged 
November in Moscow part 4 and 5

Moscow in November - Part 4


Sunday

Sunday I started with my morning fix of dancing to Russian pop music for 30 minutes. I know it sounds crazy.
The thing is that I needed to move more, and I really loathe jogging or doing heavy sports. My doctor
recommended what she called 'hot yoga' where you put on your bikini, go to a room which is 40 degrees
warm, and then you do your yoga. The problem is that I do not like yoga, but I do like dancing. So as soon as
I wake up, I go down in the basement where I have a bathroom with a heated floor, put on my bikini and
some Russian pop music, and then I dance around for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, before I jump in
the shower, still dancing. Since no one can see me, I can dance like Shakira or Kermit the frog. I suspect it is
mostly Kermit the frog even when I think it is like Shakira :-)    It is low intensity, but since I love it so much I
never try to skip it, and it means that I can start every day filled with joy. I know I need to start doing a little
more heavy work out soon though, so I just got some Russian rock for that.

After breakfast I went to get some more Russian pop music, and had intended to get some Russian classical
music and opera, and perhaps some films, but they did not have anything of what I was looking for, so I
ended up with -as so often: American movies dubbed into Russian. Our favorite series : "Vampire Diaries",
with no subtitles, my favorite movie: 'Love actually', my oldest daughter's favorite movie: "The Fault in our
Stars", and my youngest daughter's favorite movie "Thor 2" (not that my eldest daughter or I mind the
combination of Chris Hemsworth and Russian either:-). Since most of what I see is with my daughters, I need
it to be something they like too. I also got a few Christmas decorations in blue and silver. I look forward to
seeing them on my Christmas tree to remind me of Moscow :-)

I then went to Krimsky Val, where Serpent had managed to locate some paintings by my favorite Russian
artist, Alexander Averin. She was being her customary 45 minutes late :-), and then we were unable to find
each other for 15 minutes, (since we were both standing at what was the main entrance - just the main
entrance to two different things in the same building). The result was that poor espejismo, who Serpent had
called so he could meet us before I went to the theater, and who had expected us an hour earlier, got stuck
waiting for a very long time. I was over the moon to finally see some of the real life paintings of this artist,
which I had so far seen only on the computer, though. There are apparently none to be found in museums in
Moscow, but this was the gallery which sold his work, so they had a few I could see plus more on the
computer which was not to be found on the Internet. And talking with the lady who run the gallery, (in
Russian:-) I had the confirmation that he is not a realist, like it said on the Internet, he is indeed an
impressionist, as I felt all along.    Thanks Serpent, for finding the gallery for me and for dressing up to the
nines to go with me! I do not know what I would have done without you, hon :-)

We took a marshrutka to get to the theatre and cafe, which was an experience in itself. This is a minivan
which transports passengers, and between the lack of safety belts and the driver's staccato driving, my
railway man spider senses went into full state of alarm. We got to our stop without any incidents though. I
saw that they also here do a thing which I had so far only seen in Ukraine, and that is that someone who sits
in the back of the bus will send money for the ticket via everyone sitting in between to the driver, and then he
will send the ticket and any change back through the same channel. I have absolutely no idea how they
manage to remember which ticket and change goes back to which person, but they do. And I really like that
willingness to engage.

Part of the feeling of familiarity here is of course also that Russians and Norwegians are a lot closer culturally
than I thought. One major difference is however precisely the willingness to engage. Scandinavians are very
private, very reluctant to intervene, afraid to let people think that they are interfering in their lives. In many
ways that is a good thing. It means that if for some reason you differ from the norm, people will not say
anything, they will totally respect your privacy. But it also has its darker side, one which easily can be
interpreted as lack of caring. While in Moscow I saw a video from Sweden, a social experiment. In an elevator
a man was pretending to abuse a woman, screaming at her, looking like he was hurting her. 52 people
walked into that elevator. 51 of them said nothing. And the only one who said anything was a foreigner.
When I contrast that with my experience from a restaurant in Kiev where literally half the restaurant came to
our defense when a man was bothering us, the differences are striking. In St. Petersburg when I was crying
on the bus because I had just received the news that a relative I loved had passed away, I was given a seat,
and total strangers offered me a handkerchief and asked me if I was ok. When my daughter got hurt driving a
sedge-way in front of the Hermitage, I went into total chock by seeing my daughter lying still on the ground
without moving, but within less than a minute, others flocked to, removed her helmet, made sure she had air,
fanned her and a police man came running up and asked if we needed an ambulance. Touching.

At the cafe, espejismo saw me go all misty eyed when I saw my favorite dessert Tiramisu on the menu, and
earned my eternal love and devotion by ordering it for himself, so that I could have one spoon of it. Won't
forget that one in a hurry, kiddo :-) And I loved the book of Russian fairy tales!

Then Serpent and espejismo walked with me right to the door of the theatre, to make sure I did not get lost. I
saw Chekhov's: 'The Cherry Orchard' (Вишневый сад) and all I can say is WOW. I was a bit annoyed at
myself for not reading the play first, at least in Norwegian or English, because some of it was hard to follow,
but the actors were so amazing, that it didn't matter. The main actress (Марина Неелова) was a diva of epic
proportions, and the male lead (Сергей Гармаш) was also absolutely fantastic. I was not the only one who
thought so, because the applause when these two actors came out almost brought the house down. I was
half worrying that three hours of Russian theatre which I only understood a little bit of, would bee too much for
me, but it actually felt too short.   I am really grateful that my colleague was able to get me a ticket for that
play, I would have struggled to get it without him. I had a ticket to the second row, and was a bit put out that
someone was sitting in my seat with no intention of moving, but the theater assistant solved that by moving
someone from the first row so that she could give me that seat instead. I have no idea about the logics
behind that one, but you do not complain when you get moved to the front row. One custom I had never
seen before, but which I really liked, was that people came up with big bouquets of flowers, which they
presented to their favorite actors when they came to take their round of applause. I will make sure that I read
the play, and understand it properly, so that the next time I see it, I will get the details and not just the
headlines. It was in any event an experience for life to see a Chekhov play on a Russian stage.

I could not help pondering over which genre I would have categorized the play under though. Chekhov wrote
his plays as comedies, and they are being played as comedies, as there is lots of slapstick and humor in
them, but a comedy where no one is happy at the end of a play, is not a common occurrence. It is said that in
Shakespeare's plays, everyone is dead at the end of the play, whereas in Chekhov's plays everyone (at least
almost everyone) is alive but disillusioned, and no one is happy. The thing is that it is Shakespeare's
tragedies which end like that. His comedies usually end well, so we are comparing apples and pears here.
Chekhov seems to have invented a genre of his own.   But I guess that is what makes his plays such great
literature.

Sitting on the first row, I could smell every candle, and every smoke which was lit, and as I sat there taking
in the scent of tobacco, it suddenly struck me that this is actually nothing I had been exposed to here. Their
tobacco laws must work really, really well because I have not been bothered at all. I really enjoyed Serbia
when I was there in October, but all the smoking there was a nightmare.

This week end I walked on autopilot twice, to the Ljubljanka and the Tretyakovsky gallery. That is actually not
an uncommon thing with me. If I am deep in thought, I can walk and even drive for half an hour from one
place to another, and not remember having even been on the way between the point of departure or the point
of arrival. I never have an accident or bump into anyone though, so I am fully conscious, I just turn on the
autopilot without even knowing it. This is usually when I know the place really well though, so I was surprised
that this happened to me in Moscow, and at places where I have only been once or twice.

You may remember from my last time in Moscow that I was a bit surprised that I felt so at home here, as I
have no particular previous connection to Russia or Eastern Europe. I have a Spanish and French past, but
that is it. And then it hit me today. I am an idiot. I may not have all that much connection to Russia, but I do
have an Eastern European past, I just did not think of that, because it is such a long time ago. I have lived a
year in a Polish family, with Polish values, traditions and food. I was 14, and living in France, but my
immediate surroundings were still Polish. Also the love of my life, who I knew in my twenties, the only man
who ever made me feel totally and completely loved,who never hurt me, the one who I due to cosmically bad
timing could not have, but who the few times we have met again over the years with our respective spouses
always finds a moment to smile to me and say his "Bonjour beauté blonde", was also Polish. And then there
is of course the fact that I have been five times to Ukraine, three of them living in a family with part Ukrainian,
part Russian roots, with food and traditions from both countries.

Oh, and I need help finding some Russian terms of endearment. When I pack my daughters's lunch, I always
enclose a little note saying that I love them, or "Have a nice day, pumpkin" in a foreign language. The other
day, my eldest daughter goes: "For tomorrow, I think I should get it in Serbian". So in their next lunch
package there was a little note saying "волим те, мама". Am I the only mom who get requests like that? :-)
Anyhow, I have used "я теба люблю" many times, and need some alternatives. Since this is for my children,
I am not looking for expressions of romantic love, (I'll get back to you, should I need that later:-) just typical
things you would say to your children (honey, sweetie, love, pumpkin). That changes so much from country to
country, and is totally impossible to predict. In Norwegian I would use "elskling" (darling), "jeg er kjempeglad I
deg" (I care very much for you), "jeg elsker deg helt opp til himmelen og tilbake" (I love you all the way up to
heaven and back" "skatten min" (my treasure - or my taxes :-) or my favorite one "lille kosepusen min" (my
little cuddly kitty). Anything you can think of like this would be useful :-) I thought my daughters by now were
old enough not to care about the note, so when I forgot the other day I did not think it would matter, but they
were both extremely disappointed. I guess you never stop needing to know that you are loved.

Part 5

Monday

Moscow has a strange effect on me, in that my thoughts go in all directions, and I start musing over things
that do not necessarily have anything to do with Moscow or Russia. If you are mainly interested in my
impressions of the city, you may want to skip some of the more personal parts :-)

I had hoped to see snow in Moscow. The weather forecast said snow on Sunday and Monday, but sadly
there was none. Only the slightest hint of snowflakes was to be seen in the air on Monday. I had pictured big,
wet snowflakes which would cover the entire city in a white carpet, certain that Moscow would be even more
lovely in the snow.   Many of you may never have seen snow, but for me every first snow is like magic. It
takes me back to my childhood when I remember we would be in class and someone would say: "Look,
snow"! And everyone would be ecstatic. We would run outside as soon as we were allowed to, and start
making angels in the snow, or snowballs or snowmen if the conditions would allow it, which usually they did
not. Angels were always possible. You make them by lying on your back in the snow and moving your arms
and legs as wide apart as possible 4-5 times until it is done. Making them is easy. Getting up without ruining
them is hard. Your tush tends to make a huge pit right in the middle of the angel as you struggle to get up.   I
have not made any angels in the snow in a long time, perhaps it is time this year :-)

It has not been nearly as cold as I had anticipated either. I had brought a ton of warm clothes, but most of
them were still neatly folded in the closet when I started packing to go home. The major challenge here is
actually the differences between the outside temperature and the inside temperature. The metro for instance
is so warm that you have to wiggle out of half your clothes when you get in. We keep our buses and metros
much cooler in Norway, knowing that people are bound to wear a lot of clothes.   I saw a survey recently,
which said that the metro in Moscow were one of the 10 worst metros in the world for harassment of women,
by the way. I must admit that I find that extremely hard to believe. I have of course just the experience of a
couple of weeks, but I travelled around at all hours, and I saw nothing but respectful behavior toward women.
More so than any other place I have ever been. I would also think that Russians' willingness to engage would
help. Of course, I am used to the Paris metro, where I had a traumatic experience as a 14 year old, which
was probably what caused my claustrophobia, so I doubt that I would be surprised by anything the Moscow
metro could throw at me. I have always felt perfectly safe there. I wear a bracelet, which indicates sympathies
that are not terribly popular in Russia at the moment, and my Georgian taxi driver said I needed to remove it,
that I would get hurt if I went on the metro with it. I have however been both on the metro over 50 times and
in the sauna, where it was clearly visible for all to see, and I have not received a single comment. I think
Russians are a lot more tolerant than people give them credit for.

I can see myself that I am painting a rosy picture from Moscow. I have been asking myself whether my
enthusiasm for the language makes me see everything through pink glasses, and lose my objectivity, and of
course there are some issues I have not touched upon. On this forum we are not allowed to touch on political
issues, and the longer I am here on the forum, the more I see the wisdom of that choice. I have focused on
the people I have met, and in that respect I can say with absolute sincerity, that I have never met so much
kindness and willingness to help, and to go way beyond the call of duty from both people who have become
my friends, and from total strangers, in my entire life. We often hear that Russians are unfriendly, rude and
cold, and in my experience nothing could be further from the truth. Those I have been fortunate enough to
meet, have without exception been some of the warmest, kindest most helpful people I have ever come
across. And that is not to say anything negative about people from other countries. I am blessed in that I am
generally treated with love and kindness and warmth everywhere I go - in fact I sometimes think that I do not
deserve all the kindness with which I am treated. Russia has been something that has far exceeded my
wildest expectations, though. The difference between reputation and reality is more drastic than anywhere
else I have been.

That is of course one of the reasons why traveling and living in other cultures is such a good thing. You get a
completely different view of people when you get close to them. And I do not mean as a charter tourist. When
you go to a hotel on the Canary Islands filled with people from your own country, you learn nothing. When
you engage with people, whether it is as an active tourist, like I have been in Moscow, or as I have done
previously, actually live with local families, it opens up a whole treasure box of experiences. Of all the
countries I have visited, there are only two that I did not love, and those two shall remain unnamed.

When I had finished packing on Monday morning I went to the Tretyakovskaja gallery, looking forward to the
high point of my week: Seeing again all those wonderful paintings, and in particular my favorite one, which
espejismo managed to identify for me. And then I cursed myself. Monday. Closed. I could literally have kicked
myself. I had been looking forward to it all week. Well, I guess that just means I must come back soon :-)

Since there was nothing to be done about it, I went to Dom Knigi on the New Arbat street, and finally found
some of the items I was looking for. I got several collections of Russian pop music (yeah! more dancing in the
morning :-) and The Swan Lake on DVD and Boris Goudinov and Evgenij Onegin on CD. I suspect that the
latter two, particularly Boris Goudinov will prove to be an acquired taste - as I believe it is quite dark and
heavy, but I want to go through it. My dream is to one day see one of them (or my favorite opera, Carmen) at
the Bolshoi theatre, and I will enjoy it a lot more if I know the music. And I am slightly embarrassed to admit
that I could not resist getting my favorite Disney movie: 'The Aristocats'. It was the first Disney movie I ever
saw, and with my love for cats, it has remained my all time favorite all my life. Since I prefer Disney movies in
Swedish, I at one point got my Swedish colleague to get it for me, but when my boss saw that the two movies
I got from him were Aristocats and Cinderella, he just shook his head in disbelief. I also got Maschina
Vremenij (Russian rock) with which I am currently driving my daughters crazy, since I have it on repeat while
cooking. Cooking, listening to the lyrics and dancing around the kitchen at the same time demands good multi
tasking abilities, but hey, I am a woman :-)

I then had a last appointment with my polyglot friend Tania who had picked out some movies for me which
she thought I should watch for the Super Challenge: я шагаю по Москве, (Walking the streets of Moscow)
which is a classic from the Soviet times, Ëлки (6 degrees of celebration) which is a new comedy, plus a
Russian version of Sherlock Holmes: I can't wait to see them :-)

We also got a chat where she taught me different ways of saying 'Get lost' at various levels of politeness in
Russian, including how to avoid eye contact etc. Incredibly useful! I have never needed that with any
Russians, as all the Russians I have ever dealt with have been perfect gentlemen, but I had an incident a
few years ago in Paris with a national from Montenegro, who communicated through Russian, where having
that kind of knowledge would have spared me an ocean of embarrassment, and years of teasing.

I am by the way about to get my own part time live-in Russian! I almost got a live -in Russian speaker here in
October, when my Ukrainian friend from the Russian speaking minority was in trouble. I hesitated a bit before
I invited her, because since I am a state official her irregular legal status could have gotten me in difficulties,
but when I found out that she was going to travel by bus all the way to Latvia, seven months pregnant and
without the necessary documents, I almost went crazy with worry, and I literally begged her to move in with
us. My youngest daughter even offered to give up her room for her, and both the kids were super excited
about having a baby in the house. My friend did not dare to risk getting sent out right before giving birth,
though, so she left for Latvia. I know she arrived safely, but I have been unable to get in touch with her for
some time, so now I am really worried. If my next entry is from Latvia you know why. She and I could not
disagree more on the situation in her country, but when a friend is in trouble, politics becomes totally
insignificant. I was quite proud of my daughters though. Not everyone would have been willing to take in
someone they did not know, with whom they would not be able to communicate and who would bring a baby
into the house, but they were actually even more positive about it than I was. My daughters' lack of
enthusiasm for housework and chores, and hours of PCs sometimes drive me crazy, but when it comes to
the important things in life, generosity, tolerance and willingness to help people in need, they make me really,
really proud as a mother. The fact that I love having guests and have invited people from half the world to
stay with us, some of them after just a few hours' acquaintance or even just knowing them through the
Internet, of course helps :-)

Anyhow, the one who already has gotten the keys to my house, is due to come on Monday (tomorrow) and
presumably will stay with us for a couple of nights a week in the weeks to come, is my Russian teacher who
is a bona fide Russian, born outside Volgograd. The Norwegian immigration authorities messed up with her
work permit, so by the time they got it right, she had lost one third of her clients, another third had given up
due to the geopolitical situation, she had to give up her flat, and now has to fly down from the North of
Norway and rent a room every time she has classes. This reduces her income to next to nothing, but she
dares not give up the few clients she has left. So I talked the guys in my section into having some Russian
classes with her, (I more or less gave them an offer they could not refuse :-) and has told her she can stay
here whenever she is in Oslo. She is a lovely person, and I really look forward to having her :-) I have no
influence on the general situation in the world, but at least I can help out one human being.

One thing I really like in Russian, by the way, is the use of diminutives with names. Hearing that always puts
a smile on my face. My Ukrainian friend calls me Кристиночка, and I absolutely love that :-) She is young
enough to be my daughter, but I imagine that like in Spain, age has very little to do with diminutives, and I
love the gentleness behind that. We do not have that in Norwegian. If I or anyone else use a short form of my
Norwegian name, we use Sol (sun). I even sign notes to my co workers by drawing a little sun. I never use
my Norwegian first name with people from outside the Nordic countries, because they tend to think of it as a
male name, and because I cringe when it is pronounced the wrong way. I can take any pronunciation or
variant of Cristina, but Solfrid I need to be pronounced absolutely correctly. I was very impressed by the
Russian members of the forum who managed to pronounce both my first and last name correctly on Friday
after a little guidance:-) The ironic thing is that in Norwegian it is considered a very beautiful name. As you
know it means 'beautiful as the sun', which in itself has led to lots of laughs when I explain that, but actually
most Norwegians do not even know that, because 'fridr' in the meaning of beautiful is only used in Old Norse,
and is not part of modern Norwegian. The reason why they still find it beautiful is the connotations. Frid is
often interpreted as fryd (joy) or fred (peace) so when someone wants to tease me and use an 'English'
variant of my name, I usually get 'Hi, Sunshine' or "Sun-joy" or 'Sun-peace'. The last ones are etymologically
wrong, but still positive. Not sure what "Little sun" would be in Russian - does such a diminutive even exist?
And then of course it is the similarity with 'Solveig' who is the quintessential Norwegian ideal woman, taken
from Per Gynt: Blonde, blue eyed, demure, with an infinite amount of love and patience and who after the
protagonist, Per has lied and cheated and ...... his way around the world, saves him, precisely because of
that infinite capacity for love and forgiveness and patience. From a modern, feminist perspective it is the
absolute pits as far as female role models go, but one which gives Norwegians positive vibes, so I guess I
should just be flattered when people tease me about it. At one point I got so fed up of my eternal good girl
image,though, that I dressed up with black fish net stockings, black leather mini skirt, belt and bracelet with
nails on them, and marijuana leaves ear rings, and went to my job as a high school teacher. My male
students gave me their undivided attention that day, so from a pedagogical point of view, I should probably
have used it every day from then on. My head master just looked at me, swallowed heavily, and said 'I did not
know that I had hired a punk rocker'. I took the hint and went back to my regular outfits. Besides a good friend
of mine just laughed, and said that I looked like an innocent little girl regardless of what I wore, so I decided
that changing image would simply be too much work.


My last moments in Moscow were spent looking at icons. I am more and more interested in them, and need
to learn more. I actually have two icons in my home, which I have received as a gift. I even have one on top
of my bed. Before I left Kiev this summer, one of my teachers gave me an icon which she said would help me
find a new man. "Lily", I said. "We have been through this, I don't want a new man". "I know" she said, "but
you will one day, and in the mean time you put the icon on top of your bed, and it will help you find a really
good one when you are ready". I promised her to put the icon on top of my bed. I guess it can't hurt :-)

So, if in a couple of years, when I am hopefully ready to move on, you come across someone who is sweet
and kind and smart and funny, non smoking, non drinking, about my age, with no girlfriends or wives in sight,
who likes traveling and languages, speaks one of my target languages and is not hung up on his mother,
then feel free to send him my way :-)   Ok. Tall and handsome would not hurt either. :-)

While in Moscow I came across an article about the five things people regret on their deathbed, and since I
still have time to make changes in my life, I took a look at how I was doing on each point:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

It is doubtful whether anyone who has a family and a job can do that - when others depend on you, you
cannot do whatever you want. I do my utmost to fulfill my dreams though - I waited for 11 years before I got to
go to Mongolia, but I got there in the end. I got to go to Moscow this year, and at some point I will get to
Kazakhstan and Georgia, and I will get to swim in the lake Baykal. And some day, maybe I'll rent out my
house and spend some time walking barefoot on the beaches of Mauritius :-)

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

I am working on that one. We all attach a lot of our self image to our job, but I prioritize better now than when
I was younger. Thursday a friend was in difficulties, and I decided that with both my excellent co workers
there, they could do without me at work, called in to say I took a day off, and went to take care of her. One of
my co workers asked me if it was Latvia, Ukraine or Peru this time (being used to me taking off to take care of
some crisis among my friends) . "Singapore", I said. "Ahh, well she is lucky to have you".

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Hm. Not sure the world around me would be ready for me to express more of my feelings than I already do.
My old boss used to say that he had never met someone who cried as much as I did (and he only saw the
work related crying I did :-) ) The article focused on daring to tell people when you liked and disliked them. I
tend to be pretty good at showing when I like people. Most times that has a very positive result, as there is
generally not enough smiles and laughter in the world, and people react positively to that, but sometimes it
has gotten me into situations which range from awkward to life threatening. As for expressing negative
feelings, I thankfully rarely have very strong feelings of dislike, and when I do I suspect that it already shows.
If anything, I should get better at telling people how much they mean to me. Norwegians are terribly shy
when it comes to saying that out loud, and although I am in general quite un-Norwegian, I conform to the
norm there. We are shy about using "big words" regarding people we care about, particularly when we speak
in Norwegian. When my parents passed away three years ago, and I was writing my thank you notes for
people who had sent me flowers, I decided to change that. The majority were people who really did mean a
lot to me, and in the thank you notes I told them so. I do not think I have ever received that much response
filled with love and affection before, showing me that there are more depths of emotion among Norwegians
than they are normally willing to admit .

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

There are definitely lots of friends I would have liked to see more often, but I am truly blessed in that I have
both male and female friends for whom I would walk through fire, and vice versa. I actually feel closest to a
couple of my male friends. I can tell them things I do not dare to tell my female friends. When you have
friends who have known you for a quarter of a century, know your darkest secrets and all the most horrible
mistakes you made in your life, who enjoy your company because they consider you kind and full of joy and
laughter, but can still handle to for over a decade sit for half an hour every time you meet and just stroke your
hair and hold around you, because you are crying so much that you are shaking, and they still want to be
your friend, then you know that that is someone worth having in your life.

In Norway we have the saying " Show me your friends, and I'll tell you who you are". I think schizophrenic and
unconventional would probably be my result from that, as I have friends of all possible ages, religions,
nationalities , political views, sexual orientations, financial situations and educational levels. The only
common denominator is that they are people with whom I can be myself without having to put on any mask
and who I admire for their human qualities.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

Well. Doing really good on this one right now :-) I am filled with joy almost every day, and my crying is down
to a tiny fraction if what it used to be. So all in all I am on the right way, and if I continue on this path I should
not have too many regrets the day I go.

To get back to Moscow, there are again lots of things I did not get to do this time either. I do not know where
the time went!
- I did not get to see the cat circus - I checked as soon as I knew when I was going to Moscow, and it was all
sold out,
- I did not get to see Three Sisters, as the performance was cancelled,
- I did not get to see the Ostankino palace and tower, nor the Gorky park - not enough time
- I did not get to try the honey beer at GUM again, for which I did not even need an occasion. I finally find an
alcoholic beverage that I really like, and I cannot get my act together. Sigh.
- And I found no occasion for pink Russian champagne this time either :-)


However I did get to experience lots of unexpected things, and I want to thank you all for taking me into your
lives, and let me see different aspects of Russian culture. A huge hug goes to Andrei, Alexey, Tania, Marina,
Roman, Vadim and Marc for everything I got to see, and everything I got to experience, from monastery to
sauna to churches and paintings, and the interesting conversations I had with you all on topics as varied as
Russian male life expectancy, the excellence of Russian wives, literature, religion, New Year's traditions, and
oxygen cocktails :-). From a culture and friendship point of view, this visit could not have been more
successful.

My only regret, was that I had failed to use the possibilities in having so many Russian speakers around,
even when some of you tried to speak Russian with me. And then my savior came, in the shape of a taxi
driver from Tashkent.

I had ordered a taxi to the airport, and since there was heavy traffic, I had an hour and a half in the taxi, and
that taxi ride made the whole trip worth it, from a linguistic point of view. I asked him where he was from, he
told me he was from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. And although I have been a non existent member of the Turcic
team this year, and did not remember a single word of Uzbek from my studies at the beginning of the year, I
remembered enough about the language to convince him that I had indeed an interest in it, and he became
very enthusiastic. And from there the conversation flowed on everything from the amount of children each
family normally has in Norway and Uzbekistan, the age of getting married, job prospects, school systems,
retirement systems, family traditions, our children, our spouses and a thousand other things. And I did not
care about my 906 grammatical errors, or my lack of sophistication in the Russian language, because I
understood almost everything he said, and he seemed to understand everything I said. And it suddenly hit
me. This is it. This is why I study languages. Not to admire a grammatical point, or semantic peculiarities. Not
to do shadowing, or L-R or even to read good literature or watch movies.

I learn languages because of the feeling of absolute happiness when I can communicate with someone so
different from myself, from a culture which is from a far away place, but who I can understand due to a shared
language. And because in a cold November night in Moscow, I can listen to someone else's worries about his
children's future, his wife's job as a nurse, his own sense of longing for his family when working in another
country 11 out of 12 months, and I can tell him things that even I cannot share with anyone, except from a
taxi driver from Tashkent, whose life will never touch mine again ...

And thus ends my second Moscow trip.

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 24 November 2014 at 6:27am

7 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
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China
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 163 of 297
24 November 2014 at 12:26am | IP Logged 
The nice thing about travelling is that some clichés can be simply torn apart by
experience, and some are confirmed (for example alcohol being a big theme in Russia).

The experience you have Russia parallels mine with Romania. Even a bit with Russia,
though my experience is a bit strange in that I spent most of it in Siberia and that's
miles away from Moscow in mentality.
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Serpent
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 Message 164 of 297
24 November 2014 at 3:14am | IP Logged 
Beautiful post, солнце! (there's also солнышко but I'd feel funny addressing you as that ;) Кристиночка is fine though:))
I guess this sums us up. You draw a little sun, I draw a little snake in the shape of the letter S ;)

Interesting to see how a Norwegian can be fascinated with snow. I guess I've always underestimated the Gulf Stream. I had never heard about snow angels, but that's absolutely cute!

As for the metro, well, there's not much open harrassment, but I've been groped a couple of times, yes (and during the rush hour it can be hard to tell if you got touched accidentally or deliberately). Flashing can also happen, although I don't remember any personal experience. But I think this remains a problem in pretty much all countries, although some do treat it more seriously, like the UK. That's almost the only area where I'm willing to call it better than Russia, hehe.

I have to admit I noticed your bracelet and even mentioned it to my parents. My dad was like: well, it's not like she's wearing a Russian bracelet in Ukraine. But in the sauna I was only concerned about the metallic bracelets you had ;)

Argh about the Tretyakov gallery being closed! Now I have a feeling that I got an opportunity to warn you, as I asked mum whether the Central House of Arts is closed at the weekend and she said: no, only on Monday. But the relevant info was that we could go to see Averin's paintings on Sunday, of course. (you seem to have forgotten to write about the Sunday btw?)

To nitpick a bit, I'm sure that you do admire the semantic peculiarities every now and then, just not in scientific terms :) Even from your forum posts it's clear that you do ;)
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Solfrid Cristin
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 Message 165 of 297
24 November 2014 at 6:11am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Beautiful post, солнце! (there's also солнышко but I'd feel funny addressing you as that
;) Кристиночка is fine though:))
I guess this sums us up. You draw a little sun, I draw a little snake in the shape of the letter S ;)

Interesting to see how a Norwegian can be fascinated with snow. I guess I've always underestimated the Gulf
Stream. I had never heard about snow angels, but that's absolutely cute!

As for the metro, well, there's not much open harrassment, but I've been groped a couple of times, yes (and
during the rush hour it can be hard to tell if you got touched accidentally or deliberately). Flashing can also
happen, although I don't remember any personal experience. But I think this remains a problem in pretty
much all countries, although some do treat it more seriously, like the UK. That's almost the only area where
I'm willing to call it better than Russia, hehe.

I have to admit I noticed your bracelet and even mentioned it to my parents. My dad was like: well, it's not like
she's wearing a Russian bracelet in Ukraine. But in the sauna I was only concerned about the metallic
bracelets you had ;)

Argh about the Tretyakov gallery being closed! Now I have a feeling that I got an opportunity to warn you, as I
asked mum whether the Central House of Arts is closed at the weekend and she said: no, only on Monday.
But the relevant info was that we could go to see Averin's paintings on Sunday, of course. (you seem to have
forgotten to write about the Sunday btw?)

To nitpick a bit, I'm sure that you do admire the semantic peculiarities every now and then, just not in
scientific terms :) Even from your forum posts it's clear that you do ;)


I can't believe I forgot to post about the Sunday - I had written it of course - I have put it in now :-) And thanks
a million for helping me get to the paintings!

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 24 November 2014 at 6:29am

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Solfrid Cristin
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Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3702 days ago

4143 posts - 8863 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 166 of 297
24 November 2014 at 6:20am | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
The nice thing about travelling is that some clichés can be simply torn apart by
experience, and some are confirmed (for example alcohol being a big theme in Russia).

The experience you have Russia parallels mine with Romania. Even a bit with Russia,
though my experience is a bit strange in that I spent most of it in Siberia and that's
miles away from Moscow in mentality.


It is nice when you see clichės torn apart, isn't it :-)
1 person has voted this message useful



Serpent
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 167 of 297
24 November 2014 at 7:34am | IP Logged 
Oops, and I was proud for being just 30 min late ;) And remember that I was sure you were chatting with the "young man who wears glasses" that they sent to pick us up.

Sorry for the marshrutka as well. Seemed perfectly normal to me ;) If/when you take one again, don't take a seat facing the back, this should be more comfortable. As for the tickets, normally they all cost the same*. Often people just sort out the change between themselves, or tell the driver something like "со ста [рублей] за двоих", meaning that the 100 rouble note is for two people who are travelling together or have settled this between each other. The most common note in marshrutkas is probably the 50-rouble one, which nowadays typically covers just one ride (30 or 35 roubles), so no explanations are necessary. As for passing the money along, I guess it's just seen as an added responsibility that comes with sitting at the front (where you can easily communicate with the driver, not having to shout or ask other people to tell the driver which stop you need). I have to admit I often blatantly ignore this responsibility and start reading or close my eyes.

*the main exception are the marshrutkas that go to airports and cost less if you just travel within the city. Or for example, you may have noticed that Moscow State University isn't right near the University metro station (and its territory is huge), so I remember marshrutkas offering cheaper rides between the metro and several university locations. I might be giving you completely obsolete info here though :D
Basically marshrutkas are far from perfect, but the system is very efficient.

Hehe I wouldn't be amused if my mum called me a pumpkin :P Even колобочек is bad enough because to her that's a cute fairy tale character but to me it implies I'm fat :D Солнышко is a great option, and many animal names can also be used, such as зайчик, птенчик (from птенец - baby bird), рыбка, ласточка (a swallow - ie the bird), котик. It's usually more natural to add "my" - and the gender depends on the actual word/suffix, not the person in question. There are many others but I can't come up with anything else right now.

Edited by Serpent on 24 November 2014 at 8:06am

1 person has voted this message useful



Solfrid Cristin
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Winner TAC 2011 & 2012
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3702 days ago

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Speaks: Norwegian*, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, German, Italian
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 168 of 297
24 November 2014 at 8:11am | IP Logged 
@Serpent: Absolutely no need to say you are sorry for the marshrutka! On the contrary! I
would never have done that without you. :-) Any facet of Russian culture is of interest
to me, and as a
railway man I am particularly interested in means of transport. I was thrilled to try it
out:-)

I have a friend who works at the European Commission who I call pumpkin - on his public
Facebook page :-) ,
and the French say 'mon petit chou' - my little cabbage - I guess anything can be used.

Edited by Solfrid Cristin on 24 November 2014 at 1:39pm



1 person has voted this message useful



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