Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Conversations with a Babushka

I thought it was worth a post to write down a few conversations that have occurred in the flat during my stay to show you what happens in my day to day life while living with a Russian old lady. Most of the time there are three parts to the conversation, what my Bab says or rather shouts at me, what I say and what I actually want to say but through sheer diplomacy and fear do not say. All conversations took place in Russian but have been translated, you should also note that my Bab shouts naturally anyway and always sounds very angry even when asking me if I want a cup of tea.

Take this classic example of a conversation between me and my Bab that happened this weekend:
Me (puts my shoes and coat on)
Bab: (said with mild surprise) Are you going out?
My head: No I’m going to walk around the flat in my shoes spreading dirt everywhere just to annoy you.
Me: Yes, it’s Friday night I am meeting my friends.
Bab: When will you be back? When do you want to get up tomorrow?
My head: NEVER! I am running away I have had enough of eating porridge for breakfast every morning!
Me: I’ll be back around 11pm, midnightish, I want to get up about 10am
Bab: (looks at my converses with disgust) You will be cold!
Me: No I won’t, (lying slightly) I have warm socks on.
Bab: It’s night there will be a frost, You WILL be cold.
My head: Oh just leave me alone, not even my parents were this controlling and bossy when I was 7, I’m 21 leave me alone. If I wear the wrong shoes and get cold feet then I’ll just have to learn, go away and leave me in peace.
Me: No don’t worry I will be fine.
Bab: (looks very disgruntled but gives in) Bye.
Me: Bye (gets shoved into the lift by the bab while she gives me a kiss on the cheek)

Later that same night
Me (coming in quietly so as not to wake the bab more out of fear than politeness)
Bab (voice yells through from her room but she does not actually appear) WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! IT’S 12:30! THERE ARE LOTS OF CRIMINALS IN MOSCOW! I WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOU!
My head: Oh for goodness sakes, here we go again, blah, blah, blah, criminals I’m not bloody 12 years olds! ARGH! Leave me alone!
Me: Sorry I lost track of time, don’t worry my friends walked me home, I was perfectly safe.
Bab: Ah ok good your friends walked you home
My head: Yes walked me home if by that you mean to the metro station where I got on in order to come here and get yelled at by you.
Me: Sorry again (runs to hide in room and escape another yelling)

The next morning:
Me: (appears from doorway looking very sleepy and not really with it) Hello!
Bab: Hello! Are you going anywhere today?
Me: Yes but not until the evening
Bab: Why did you get up at 10am then if you are not going out until later?
My head: What?! Why is it any of your business why I want to be conscious or not, man am I EVER going to do anything right?!
Me: (Slightly stunned as to why I am being asked why I am awake) Because I have lots of work to do…
Bab: (seeming slightly impressed that I am for once actually working) Ah work ok good, I am going food shopping and will be back later
My head: There’s a surprise you’re going Producty shopping, off to the shops to buy more disgusting tasting porridge to force feed me for breakfast, great I can’t wait!
Me: Ok bye I’m going to have a shower.
(Bab starts getting ready to leave the flat while I run and hide in the bathroom, have my shower and refuse to leave until I can hear that she has left)

Another sparklingly amusing conversation happened back at Christmas
Bab: (said with mild surprise) Are you going out? When do you want to get up?
Me: Yes, I want to get up at 11am
Bab: 11AM!?! What about school! You can NOT miss school! School is very important!
Me: I don’t need to go to school, it’s Christmas on Thursday, I am on holiday.
Bab: (looking at me as if I am mad) Christmas is not in December, Christmas is in January.
Me: Russian Christmas is in January, English Christmas is in December.
Bab: ah That’s a stupid idea.
Me: (pretending not to have heard her) bye bye!

Christmas Eve about 8pm:
Me: (putting on shoes and coat)
Bab (shuffles out from room and looks mildly surprised) You are going out? Why? It’s late!
Me: Yes I am going out, it’s Christmas Eve and I want to go to Church.
Bab: Christmas is in January not in December
My head: oh for goodness sakes, here we go
Me: English Christmas is in December not January
Bab: (looking at me as if I am utterly insane) When will you be back?
My head; NEVER!
Me: about midnight the service is quite late
Bab: Watch out for the criminals! They are very dangerous, Moscow is so dangerous!
My head: yes ‘criminals’ so far in your country I have had more trouble from your so called ‘police force’ who are meant to up hold justice and the law than I have from any of these ‘criminals’ you are so damn paranoid about.
Me: ok don’t worry I’ll be careful.

Christmas day
Bab: (as always with mild surprise) You are going out?
Me: Yes It’s Christmas day, my friend is having a party and we are going to have a meal together.
Bab: Christmas is in January not in December, when will you be back?
My head: here we go again, how many bloody times I am going to have to explain that just because something happens one way in one country does not mean that it happens in exactly the same way in every single country in the world.
Me: (trying to resist the urge not to crack and still remain English and diplomatic) Tomorrow evening, Merry Christmas!
Bab: Christmas is in January
Me: Fine Merry English Christmas
Bab: Thank you, bye, see you tomorrow
My head: or never again if I run back to England instead
Me: ok bye bye! (runs to Martin’s flat to celebrate Christmas and hide from the Bab)

The final example I shall give you was when I was trying to ask if I could have Simon round for a couple of hours and have dinner.
Me: (walking very gingerly to the doorway of the bab’s room) Hello Valentina, I was wondering if it would be ok if I had a guest over for dinner tomorrow night?
Bab (staying lying in bed, watching tv and not really listening) A guest? Is she Russian?
Me: No HE’s from England
Bab: Ah an English Girl
Me: No an English Boy
Bab: Does SHE want to stay over? Will SHE need breakfast?
Me: No HE will not be staying over HE is simply coming for dinner and will not need breakfast in the morning.
Bab: OK, that’s fine SHE can come over.
My head: Look love no matter how many times you say the female version of ‘friend’ or ‘guest’ Simon is not going to miraculously turn into a girl he is a boy, and if you go nuts at me for having a boy in the house then I am going to lose it and do a Raskolnikov on your ass.
Me: Thank you very much (runs and hides in room before Bab can change her mind)

This is what all the students on their year abroad here in Russia have to experience daily, should anymore amusing conversations take place then I shall post them. Somehow I think it won’t be too long before that happens
Conversations with a Babusha

1 comment:

Damon Lord said...

"do a Raskolnikov on your ass" - oh how I laughed!!! My sympathies! Thank Heavens I've read a little Dostojevskij to get that reference!