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Family Bulletin #3 (I think)

13 May

Hi all,

I know it’s been a while 🙂 You know me, I’m like a fly in a sandstorm, I get up in things 🙂 But hey no news is good news, if you apply this statement to anybody else it may be true… to myself, considering past events, it may not be as true… but I am all grown up and responsible now, and I would like to continue believing this so please, no scathing emails in return… although, it would actually be nice to recieve an email from time to time… and not just messages saying “we are waiting for your email” … communication is a two way thing you know 🙂 I would potentially encourage you to email me before calling me also as I am out and about a lot and I need to plan to be at home at the right time, or to tell you when I will be there (it takes about 45min to get my flat to the centre so I waste a lot of time just wandering around, not aimlessly though… if only I had time too, it would be heaven!)

weather here is awesome, a constant 20-22 degrees, everywhere is green, it hasn’t properly rained in ages and even then it only rained a few times…
I have been working v. v. hard, making “lots” of money, well at least trying to save some… life can be hell, I spend 3-4 hours a day travelling, about 1 1/2h of those powerwalking my way to lessons… Keeping me very busy! I have been teaching myself russian and doing relatively well considering I have only been here 3 months:. I can now:
-talk my way out of the police cell in the metro, with the police. Don’t ask me how I got there, cos I still don’t know why. They may have thought I was frauding the metro, so I got a full body and bag search, plus a quick flick through my lessons (I was on my way to work of course) where I was obviously hiding some plastic explosives … Anyways they eventually let me go so all’s well that ends well
-I can flag down a random car, negotiate and get them to bring me home, even after a night out at 6am, still recovering from the vodka . But don’t worry, I only drink good vodka 😀 and I always go for the shitty 1970 soviet cars where there is no central locking, so at worst, I can always just hurl myself from the vehicle…
Yeah that’s pretty much it, but I figure if I can do that, I must be fluent at least… if not more.
I have however resigned myself to my fate and hired a private teacher because there are only so many situations with taxi drivers and police and my conversational russian is basic. Actually, basically crap may be more appropriate…
Teaching is going well, I am occasionally sceptical on how much I teach my students, but now that they have mastered the words “spastic”, “boobs”, “bollocks” and “mental”, as well as the difference between ale, lager and stout, they are good to go (to Rotherham).
A part from that, life is pretty much like anywhere, just in Russian … I am planning a weekend outside of moscow with mates soon. What an adventure it will be. We are getting the train, will be a nice change from the metro 😉
I have installed software called Oovoo. It”s like skype, just less crap.



Important – Weather Forecast – осторожно – ПОГОДА

30 Apr

The Sun has sprung upon winter like a horny billy goat to a bearded baboushka. Indeed hard to believe but the winter has waned and the summer waxed in this wily battle for the Russian wilderness. Two months previous, we were but midgets in this icy motherland of Matrioshkas, today we blossom in the beguiling blueness of the blunt sun.

The winners of this season’s poetry competition are Jean Intonik (52 yo, Krasnoyarsk) for the adult competition with Ode to Father Frost and Lily Posukshun (8 yo, Novosibirsk) for Sun and Game.

Ode to Father Frost

Farewell deserted streets and desert soils,

Farewell O brown chemical we loved so much,

Farewell icy paths and ice ridden toils

Farewell O frozen ground we loved to touch,

With our frosty buttocks and ice laden frocks.

Jean Intonik

Sun and Game

The sun is here

It’s time for beer

And shooting deer

Fun in the park

Until it’s dark

And invisible is death’s mark

Lily Posukshun

Family Bulletin #2 [extracts]

2 Feb

Phew! We nearly didn’t have a number 2 now did we?

I know it doesn’t really help the shock and worry you all went through, but if it’s any reassurance, I am mentally intact and emotionally unscarred despite the incident (to not say terrorist suicide bomb attack).

I have now survived a whole week in the land of the Soviets even though Russian military swarmed the square right beside our offices yesterday. They had bullet proof jackets (they weren’t wearing their helmets, only carrying them) and had set up make shift metal detectors and the footpaths and ineffectual roadblocks (it looked more like an excuse to chat up people in cars). I still have no answer as to the reason of the covert operation as there has been nothing in the Moscow Times (yes yes I am keeping up with the times!). I reckon it was some secret operation that was only considered covert because they censored the news afterwards.

I again escaped unscathed and wandered south of Mayakovskaya towards the huge stalinist building, one of seven, named the Seven Sisters. I am going to assume that they all carry the name of The Seven Sisters, simply because that way I can avoid learning the individual names of each one which would be way too strenuous! According to my crappy guide book for rich people (that’ll teach me to try save money on important cultural knowledge) they were designed by Stalin, if I remember correctly. But as I said, the book was crappy, and for rich people, so I only paid half my attention to what I was reading, the rest was dedicated to trying to stop myself from petting everyone’s (real) fur coats! I think I even saw a woman wearing reindeer skin the other day, either that or dalamation, probably a mix of both.

It has been snowing lightly but steadily all day, and no matter how much it snows, the siberian workers stay dedicated to their activity and dutifully push and brush all the flakes that come the way! According to one of my colleagues, they import Siberians to Moscow during the winter to look after everything related to the manual clearance of footpaths, what a shitty job. They start about 6 in the morning and are still toiling away at 6.30 in the evening (at least!), but I must say I am glad of it because if not, I would have surely been late to some classes for lack of firm footing and want of ice skates!

Okay, I am all emailed out for the moment. Everybody wants a piece of me now that I am doing something exciting (apparently Sheffield wasn’t exciting enough) it is quite exhausting! That said, I now have skype […] so get with the times people!

In the meantime, I will leave you to admire One of the Seven Sisters (attached) where I will be lunching tomorrow. I have already been asked “why”, to which the only appropriate was “why damn well not” Because I can, and that is reason enough!

Family Bulletin n.1 [extracts]

21 Jan

For all and sundry (?, that may not exactly be the right word, but hey, it’s not as if I have certificate saying I can teach, and therefore speak English at a satisfactory level :).

Moving on, I have now obtained my living and work address and am happy to inform you that I will also have access to a landline (don’t know the number yet) should you want to call! As well as internet, and maybe even Skype if I figure out how to work it.

My flatmate has sent me a map with directions to the local pancake shop (FYI BLINI in Russian) . She has told me where everything is and I am getting picked up from the airport by a taxi that my boss sorted out. They will even have a sign and they will also ask the nice russian neighbour to give me the key, because I can’t ask for it.

As for preparations, I have the bag, I just haven’t packed it yet (nothing unusual there). I also tried to book my flights, but my card was refused on the internet so I’ll try figure something out when I get down to London, can’t be too hard to get a flight can it?

Just kidding!!! I have booked my flight and my train to get to London, all I need to sort out now is the hostel but that’s pretty easy after everything I have had to do just to get a visa! I have also now obtained those elusive Russian Rubles and will be collecting them tomorrow.

And finally, I have invested in a russian-english dictionary, a plastificated (?!) map, a phrasebook, a terrible mini Moscow guide and I can ask for the toilets (Gdye toilets?) and be understood! So, chaps, it looks like everything is pretty much sorted (well apart from the fact that I went to get my phone unblocked/unlocked and the effers broke it. It just stopped working and they refused to reimburse me, so I ended up having to buy a new phone, not from them of course, but they did have the cheek to try sell me a new one.

Nevertheless, unless karma is trying to tell me that I shouldn’t go to Russia, I am guessing that once I have managed to wade through this onslaught of crap (I bet you are all appreciating my delicate writing style and wondering where you went wring with this one  :D), it’s going to be pretty amazing!

And to finish, I have copy pasted some words from future flatmates most recent email which should appease your agitated spirits, (well sort of):

But if it comforts them any, when my parents found out I was going back to Russia the second time I decided to live here, they were so happy that I was going to be ‘somewhere safe’!! It can be intimidating I suppose – remember that noone smiles… – but it’s a fantastic country really, and no more dangerous than any city. Probably safer than London.”

Lots of love,



PS: If, for whatever reason, you decide to report me missing again, please take a second, remember that I am in MOCKBA!