(11th September written up 12th September)
At 3 o’clock Diana, one of the school staff, came to the flat to take me on me “excursion” – tour of the city centre. I think the tour had three objectives:
- to show me how to get to the school on Monday,
- to show me some of “the sights” and give me landmarks
- to informally assess my knowledge and skill with Russian.
It would be tedeous to describe exactly the route we took, or what I saw (especially if you do not have access to a map of Novosibirsk). Alyona’s flat is about a mile south of the city centre. Diana and I set off north up Krasny Prospect (“Red Prospect”, one of the main thoroughfares), towards Lenin Square. During the tour I saw: the school, one significant church, several cultural buildings, a Metro station and a couple of parks. As I expected, (based on what I saw) Novosibirsk is not an especially beautiful city. It contains some interesting and beautiful buildings, but most is functional, some stark or even a bit “brutal”. The tour lasted an hour and a half. Diana returned me to the flat and we said goodbye until tomorrow.
Alyona and Gleb were out. My bed is a fold-away divan. I had converted it into its divan form before going out. It is covered with a loose sheet. I sat down, to type up some of these notes into my laptop, when to my surprise the sheet beside me moved! Moosa (the cat) was underneath the sheet. I was relieved that nothing bad had happened but quite amused. As there was nothing wrong, I went on with what I was doing, and left Moosa beneath the sheet (See the photo).
When Alyona came back, I told her what had nearly happened and showed her the bump. I deliberately used the word “Catastrophe” (which is almost exactly the same in Russian). She found this incident very funny, and said that she had a favourite movie (a British comedy of manners) where a woman accidentally sits on a small dog and kills it!
A little later, “Slava”, a lady friend of Alyona’s came to visit. I am introduced. We have tea together and they include me in some of the conversation. It is very hard work both for the guest and the host when you have limited command of the language, but we get by. One of the issues I have with Russian is that it is possible to change the meaning of some words by changing the stress. Naturally, I often put the stress in the wrong place! You mustn’t do this sort of thing unless you are prepared to have people laugh at you (in a friendly way). I ask Alyona to tell Slava about the incident with Moosa. Slava finds it funny too. A little later, Alyona gets me, and herself, supper (roast chicken and macaroni). She has found the film she referred to on YouTube and we all watch the relevant clip together. I don’t recognise the film, but it is very funny (even with the dialogue in Russian), and the entirely appropriate. I’m glad no harm came to Moosa, but the incident has certainly “broken the ice”.
A little while later Alyona goes out and leaves me in the flat. I am left to tell Gleb to have chicken and macaroni for tea! I do my journal, revision and preparation and eventually go to be. I’m writing this at 3am because my body clock is still a bit haywire!