I thought I’d just tell you about some of the more amusing things that have happened this week. Russia is a country full of cultural surprises, which I personally find very amusing. I’ll also tell you about some of the more stupid things I’ve been up to so that you can feel comforted that there is someone out there who is a little more dopey than you!
Firstly, I think I’ll tell you about Russian television, as it is an experience in itself. I’ve been watching a lot of TV as it’s a great way to learn the language - my roommate, her boyfriend and his roommateand I often sit in our room armed with dictionaries of an evening. Our favourite channel is called Perets (pepper) and is, I guess, like E4 in the UK as it has programmes that resemble Balls of Steel, Jackass and Rudetube. The programmes we’ve been watching largely consist of videos of cats, fires, dogs and shocked Russian men who inadvertently stumble across a nude woman in the street. Yes, you did just read that correctly. My friend and former housemate Nikki would be immensely proud of my trashy TV watching efforts.
Oh, and I’ve also discovered the Russian equivalent to Jeremy Kyle on Rossiya 1 – it’s called “Pust Govoryat” (Let’s talk) and the presenter looks a bit like Jonathan Ross/Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen. Perfect for keeping up with the topical issues affecting Russian society. Honestly. I think I have quite a filtered view of Russian people from my teachers, as they are all fantastically articulate and educated people with degrees of at least a Bachelor’s level. I want to know about the other people in Russia who have different qualities of life. Perhaps I am not given an authentic view of this stratum of society as television is a form of augmented reality at the best of time, but it is as good an impression as I can access at this point in time.
Also on Rossiya 1, before Pust Govoryat, is “Davai Pozhenitsya” (Let’s get married). It is a spectacular amalgamation of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Blind Date and Loose Women – my hozeyka in Kazan last year introduced me to it, she is a dedicated bolelschnitsa (fan) of it!
In the real world, there have been a few amusing things that have happened this week. We all thought Russian showers were meant to be a cold, pathetic dribble – until I stumbled upon an angry Russian woman in the bathroom with whom I had a complaining session in Russian about how poor the shower was. Angry Russian women, as my friend, who is half Russian will tell you, are forces to be reckoned with. The shower has since been fixed.
It is a well established truth that the tap water in Russia is undrinkable – at best it is a yellow colour that smells of old pipe infrastructure. Being unaccustomed to this, my roommate and I thought it would be an absolutely genius idea to fill a standard water bottle with hot water, so that by the time came to drink it, it would be both cool and clean. GENIUS. The problem came, however, when on contact with the hot water, the bottle contracted, the label melted off and the whole room stank of molten plastic. I think this deserves about fifty idiot points.
Beer in Russia has such a low alcohol content (comparative to vodka) that it is drunk in the street as if it were coke. Indeed, the builders fixing the pavement by the Winter Palace were drinking it as they worked while I took my walk around town today. One such esteemed member of the civil construction team decided that, upon finishing his chilled light alcoholic beverage, it would be a great idea to throw away the bottle. In Russia, this should be read as a glass bottle. On a pavement. Full of pedestrians. Not quite sure what to make of this.