Blogs from Yaroslavl, Centre, Russia, Europe - page 5


Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 20th 2005

The biggest room in Avan-Gard is like a set from a James Bond film, with a metal dancefloor and ripped leather sofas on the first floor. The DJ played very loud techno-trance with the bass turned up, stopping every half an hour to invite people to join in with a strip show on stage. One man didn't know what he was volunteering for and ended up completely naked. Even when people were dancing there were strippers above us, with the men leering at them. In Russian style the girls wiggled their hips on their own on the stairs, waiting for the boys in the middle to invite them to dance. Precious and I were the first ones to go to the dancefloor. None of us were sure how to move to techno-trance, or what to think ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 19th 2005

My new flat is on ulitsa Bolshaya Oktyabr'skaya, which runs opposite ulitsa Pobedy. My building is near where I went horse riding last month, and I'm only five minutes away from Chiara who lives in a neighbourhood I know quite well. The stairs are almost completely dark and smell worse than where I have moved from. My room is an early 1900's style living room with a brown rug, a small bed in the corner and a cupboard that takes up an entire wall. Along the other wall is a five-seat sofa, with a foot rest. It is on the first floor so there is a permanent loud, high-pitched squeaking and low-pitched grunting of trams outside, and when one passes the building twice a minute the room shakes. My new hozyaika is a lady called Marina ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 18th 2005

I was woken up at 8 o'clock by Tamara Aleksandrovna banging on my door. Still half asleep I opened it. "Pack your suitcase and get out." The reason, I can barely believe, is that the bathroom flooded during the night because I left a tap running and she is tired of me being irresponsible. After so much exercise at the skating rink I slept from midnight right until the morning - it is impossible that the leak was my fault. Nevertheless I had no time to say anything. I put all my possessions into my case by 9.15, the time I would normally have packed just my school bag. Without a goodbye Tamara Aleksandrovna's back was already turned, as I got into the taxi she had ordered even before I was woken up. My first six ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 17th 2005

Another cold, dull day. There has been no real daylight at all this week and the sky is low and grey. In Viktor's class we talked about bribes; what to give someone if you want something done in Russia. Rich parents pay thousands of dollars to make sure their child gets into a good kindergarten. For a good school it will cost a computer or a colour printer. You need to pay even more for a comfortable bed in hospital. Twenty years ago it was only a bottle of cognac or a calendar of naked girls. Corruption goes higher than that in Russia - but that is none of my business. We finished our second workbook with Lena. There were twenty minutes free at the end of the lesson so we talked about the most embarrassing ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 16th 2005

Last night was another good evening at the theatre. There were three short plays that were nothing special, but it was relaxing to sit in a comfortable seat in a beautiful auditorium and see Katya have such a good time. The first play was about a debt-collector who falls in love with the widow who he comes to get money from, the second was a monologue that I didn't understand, then the same actors did a sketch about an anniversary celebration in a bank, where the director's loud and flirty wife stole the show. The best part was the superb guitar player, who appeared in all the plays wearing a black jumper and jeans while the rest were in nineteenth century costume. Even I put on my smartest outfit for the occasion; Katya seems intent on ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 15th 2005

Still below zero this morning and it's raining. In Viktor's class we talked about another of Russia's social problems - this time homelessness. Surprisingly for a Russian he is very open with discussing his country's faults. We moved on to the more comfortable topic of Oligarchs, especially Roman Abramovich. He has twice as much money - 14 billion dollars - as the second richest man in Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many businessmen have become extremely rich. Many of them have broken laws in doing so. Russia has vast oil supplies, and companies such as SibNeft' - owned by Abramovich - are some of the wealthiest in the world. It was interesting to hear Viktor's point of view on the rise of Novye Russkie, 'new Russians' since perestroika. Whereas there used to be ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 14th 2005

Minus 1 degree on the way to Yartek. I wanted to get back into my routine today. In Yulia's class we read a short story about a lie of some sort, involving a skating rink and a famous playwright. It felt good to speak because I had something to say again and not because someone was pressuring me for an answer. There are only two more weeks of lessons before some of the group finish their course and go back to England. Bhav is the only one leaving from my teaching group, but fifteen will soon become eight. Everyone is my friend but it will not be the same atmosphere without Bhav, Sarah and Jamie. On the positive side I still have six more weeks of Clare's 'not understanding Russia' tantrums, Chris J's impromptu musical numbers ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 13th 2005

I got up late today. I badly needed a few hours to relax as I was exhausted after yesterday. My head doesn't hurt any more but my legs are sore and weak. Lunchtime completely undid the lie-in. Tamara Aleksandrovna's meals are always unpleasant. Sometimes the conversation is light hearted so I notice it less but this one made me angry. The table is only big enough for one. While I am eating she circles me - looking over my shoulder, telling me what to eat and when, how to eat, what she has bought and how much it cost, where it is from, do I want more, why the Russian food is best, how her last boy ate, why my diet is the reason for me being ill, asking me to comment on everything, telling Musya ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 12th 2005

My appointment at the poliklinika was at mid-day in a building between ulitsa Tolbukhina and Yaroslavl Glavnyi train station. I met Valentina Ivanovna in a big winter overcoat, and we walked there together. On the way we stopped at a menswear shop, so I could help her choose a jacket for her son's birthday present. The building was exactly how I had imagined a Russian clinic: cold, grey and dull. The room I was taken to was medium sized which was shared by two doctors. Valentina Ivanovna explained that I was "the student-Englishman" and that I probably had Ostrochandros. They made me take my shirt off and explain my symptoms then one of them took my pulse and blood pressure. As if my Russian language hasn't been tested enough lately: imagine speaking it half-naked in front ... read more

Europe » Russia » Centre » Yaroslavl November 11th 2005

I still wasn't well enough to go to classes today. I could open my eyes, but there was a horrible pain behind them, and my head was still very sore. I felt dizzy and couldn't think clearly. I went to Yartek and told them that I needed a doctor, so Valentina Ivanovna made some phone calls. I waited for an hour on a sofa outside one of the classrooms. When the class came out they all asked how I was. Chris J thought my skin was grey, Sarah said I looked yellow. They were really concerned for my health and I'm flattered they were so kind. I found out what I had missed the night before. The actors from 'Daughter's Lesson' went to Natasha's flat (where Jamie lives) and watched the play video. Everyone seemed to ... read more

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