Sunday, 26 September 2010
Not Getting to know Olga and Vladimir.
I'm off quite soon, off to visit my son who lives and works in a remote part of Central Asia.
In the meantime I struggle with Olga and Vladimir.
I need to get to grips with these two, because for some of the time I will be free-range in a very foreign place. I want to be able to wander around and chat to people while my son is at work.
I will take my small-scale sketching things, because I have learned that the way to attract a bit of company is to sit and sketch.
If you want to keep people away you sit and write in your Moleskine notebook, but if you produce a sketch book and a little box of water-colours you have someone sitting beside you in no time at all.
At least, that is what happens in England.
What will happen in Kazakhstan, I wonder?
Which is why I'm working on Olga and Vladimir.
They are Russian, but many people in Kazakhstan speak Russian.
Olga and Vladimir meet at a business conference.
'Hello!' they say to each other,'What is your name?'
They exchange names. They tell each other how nice it is to meet. They agree that Moscow is beautiful. They agree it is time to part. They say goodbye with no apparent qualms.
That is Lesson 1 Part 1 of the multi-disc set of Conversational Russian. It is called Getting to Know People.
I don't feel I am getting to know Olga and Vladimir, but will press on.
Olga and Vladimir meet again. They remember each others' names. They ask each other how they are. They are both well. They part again, but now I sense a lingering regret.
Things begin to warm up. Olga wants to find the way to the Post Office. She wants to buy a stamp. I expect she needs to write home to say she may be away longer than expected.
Now she wants to find the Bolshoi Theatre. Is she going to buy tickets and invite Vladimir?
By Part 2 Valdimir and Olga are in a restaurant; beer, borshch and salad for Vlad, red wine and chips for Olga. Oh, and an omelette. And white wine instead of red. Then coffee with milk and tea with lemon.
They summon the waiters repeatedly. 'Young man!' 'Young woman!' they cry. Olga changes her mind about the chips, the wine, the tea. Vladimir asks for the bill. It's really not promising.
I knew it!
By Part 4 Olga is off to the football stadium and Vladimir? Well, Vladimir is heading for the hospital. He is on the number ten trolleybus, three stops away from the hospital.
They never get it together. They buy samovars and matroshka dolls, but separately.
They make an attempt to go to the Puskin Museum but it is closed on Mondays, and, of course, it happens to be Monday.
Vladimir has a mild dose of man-flu and goes to hospital, but is told to take an aspirin and stop fussing. Olga loses her handbag and is locked out of her room.
The pair of them go to supper with another colleague where they partake of three bread rolls, a half kilo of cheese, tomatoes and three bottles of beer.
One wonders about the quality of the conference as well.
I expect things are different in Kazakhstan.