Published: May 14th 2006May 12th 2006
Our building is on the left, the Russian obshezhitie is opposite.
Lyudmila Giorgevna's lecture this morning was about terrorism, but later it turned into a discussion about 'what type of world we live in'. The two adjectives that first came into my mind were "American" and "small". Everyone agreed that it is fair in parts and unfair in others. At the end we watched a documentary about the Beslan shooting on September 1st, 2004. What happened in Beslan, a village in a region near Chechnya, was terrible. It is a part of the world where people value their family more than anything, where not just one parent but mum, dad and both grandparents take their children to school each morning. That is why the gunmen could take so many people hostage.
In the afternoon I stayed in obshezhitie and made some plans for going away. The second Lyudmila, the secretary Lyudmila Nikolaevna, dropped in to check the state of my flat before I leave. After complaining that it wasn't spotless I reminded her that I will still be living here for five days, and that the orange stain in the bath that won't even be bleached off is no fault of my own. She waved my 1000 rouble deposit in front of my face as an incentive; the woman is so obsessed by money, and sneaky with it, that every time I paid rent in her office it felt as if I should be checking for mirrors up her sleeves.
The evening was quiet too, as most of us are working on an essay of some sort. If we aren't writing we're watching ice-hockey on television in the middle of the night. Canada beat Latvia 11-0 but, as Ella put it, "they only won because the referee was on their side"! Later I watched three Russian sit-coms in the lounge with Natasha and Yulia. Or it might have been two, I wasn't sure when one ended and the next began. They all follow the American blueprint - huge house, angelic children falling in love, attractive parents squabbling then making up. It's just in a different language.