Here are a few things I remember from my Russia trip ten (egad) years ago (besides the gi-normous hairy mosquitoes and the gag-inducing toilets):
The teacher in the Russian language class I was in used to call the enter button on the computer keyboard the “coast is clear” button.
A lot of the graffiti was in English. One particular wall scrawl said “Fack Of” which I loved then, and still love now.
If you want to say, “Yes, that’s it” in Russian you say, “Da, eta kak.” When you’re 17 and you’re on a bus (av-toh-boos) and you hear people saying “Da, eta kak” over and over, well it’s really, really funny. Who knew riding Russian public transportation was the same as listening to a porno?
The money situation was so crazy back then that we had to carry our rubles in stacks – like the stacks of money you see bank robbers stuffing into bags. At one point, along with my “American money” I had 35,300 rubles stuffed in every pocket of my clothes. You know how much that was in dollars? 18. We had to carry backpacks just to lug around Russian money. Crazy.
Just for fun, here’s a little snippet from the journal I kept while I was over there (I’ve commented in italics to explain things):
“After school we ate at K’s flat where we were fed a strange pizza concoction by his psycho host mama. [it was made with sour cream and fresh tomatoes and not cooked] She kept, like, kissing him and stuff. [the host mama loved Korey. She wanted him to marry her daughter and take her off to America where they could live in a grocery store. I’m not kidding.] A and I thought she was trying to poison us. [she was jealous we might marry Korey and move into a grocery store] I wouldn’t doubt it – she’s nuts and her hair is purple.”
Here’s another snippet:
“After school we went to the military museum which consisted of a lot of airplanes and a fidgety old man with a mean pointer. [a stick pointer, not a dog] It was boring, but we made the best of it as always. After the museum our Russians tried to get rid of C who couldn’t go back to his host’s house because Ilia, his Russian, abandoned him for a vodka/sex party in the country. [Ilia was the bad boy Russian. He tried to make us go to a vodka/sex party one night. It was truly frightening] We ended up keeping C with us for a while longer and going to see a movie. [One thing I remember about the movie? There were dogs in the theatre. A pack of them.] It was a Godzilla movie and absolutely hysterical.”
As you can see, the Russia Trip was a non-stop barrel of fun. (I’m only being half-way sarcastic, because it really was fun. Have you ever seen a Godzilla movie translated from Japanese into Polish and subtitled in Russian where one guy does all the voices, even the monster roar? It rocks.)