Thursday, 22 September 2011

Episode 10: Rob does Russian things (with mixed results)

I'm under swift instructions to "sort out my apostrophes" so if you spot one misplaced or missed out then would you be a dear and put it in the comment section, ta. 

So now that I have somewhat settled into life in this little town i've built up sufficient swagger and bravado to leave my room and take on some extra-curricular Russian activities (not just drinking).
Where I live! In the sunshine!

Ok so drinking! In the last episode I praised Petrozavodsk's bar culture and here I praise it again. Good places to get a drink here include the "PTZ Pivnoi Klub" (impossible name nice bar), "Neu Brandenberg" (the German-themed place: great staff, so so cheap and a really nice vibe in the daytime) and obviously "Kafe Begemot". What I have yet to incorporate into my post-university attempts to meet and speak to Russians is clubbing and tbh I don't think it'll be very good... I mean Oxford isn't exactly club Mecca but something tells me this place isn't either. On the other hand it's my birthday soon so maybe we'll find out, eh? Anyway through drinking we have made some good (I think they're good) friends. There is Evgenii the bodyguard, Juri who likes punk rock and several other people who are just as lovely and animated. It's amazing how the odd drink improves one's ability and confidence to speak! Just not sure if several drinks starts to ruin it all again...

Next we have the couchsurfing meeting! Ha ha! Excellent! I first heard of couchsurfing in first year through a good friend from Canada (by way of Hong Kong and New York obvs) and so I decided to pop along with some classmates to the meetup of the Petrozavodsk contingent. We thought that it was supposed to be at "Bar Corsica" but outside in the cold we were met by Roman (a friendly coachsurfer) who told us it was in his flat in a neighbouring building. A stray dog audibly growled as we crossed the street and headed into the communal yard. Roman tapped in his security code and opened the heavy doors to usher us up the thin staircase past countless closed doors into his warm and cosy apartment.

After tripping over the shoes of the other assembled coachsurfers we were greeted by a huge table of refreshments in his siting room. As we nervously shuffled in, the room of Russians ominously bore down on the Englishmen in the corner. The mood was far from icy but something definitely needed to happen. Thank god for Sheffield Tom turning up with a bag of beer to prompt a swift loosening up! We did our best to endear ourselves in stuttery Russian to the couchsurfers who did their best to laugh at our attempts at humour as we explained our couchsurfing understandings and gave a few anecdotes of our experiences. Later, after a prolonged and chilly walk around the town, we ended up in another flat (we were kicked out of the first one for being too merry post-meeting) and I made a ton of good friends in the early hours, debating British accents, nice socks and how amazing this Soviet style apartment was. At this party we were invited too...

...Karelian folk dancing! Now i'm getting truly Russified! We turned up to the ministry of culture in Lenin Square on Monday not knowing what to expect. Immediately we were lead into a polka. The angry girl partnered with me, frustratedly shouted "Stoi!!" ("stop!") every five seconds because I couldn't get the ryhthym down for the galloping. Round and round we polka'd as the demon accordion player garbled on and on. Soon we began to get the hang of it and collapsed for a tea break. Next we danced something that seemed faux Irish which we managed quite well, but then came THE CIRCLE OF DOOM...

Demon accordion player - get your polka on!
We entered into a kind of rituatlistic part of the routine (bear in mind this is written by an Englishman with no concept of folk dancing or its vocabulary) where we first had to bow to a girl, then fake a chase after her (all lecherously) then do some kind of improv dance routine for her while she clapped and stamped. Oh dear. The Russians ahead of us in the circle successfully cossack danced their way through the routine and I'd like to say we valliantly tried, but I fell flat on my arse...

h the emabarrassment! But nevermind dear reader! - I got an applause anyway and I have just enough pride in my still to go again this Thursday! What a weird hobby i've started!

Anyway this was a nice distraction, now back to Russian Jeremy Kyle... thanks again for keeping up x

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