Monday, 6 April 2009

Trains, Trains, Trains

Right I mean it this time I am NEVER setting foot on another train as long as I do so live, I have had my fill of them for the week. The journey to Volgograd took 18 hours, the next leg to Sochi took 22 hours and the return journey to Moscow took a day and 16 hours. If I have to travel at all it’s going to be first class and not platskarta. For those of you who do not know platskarta is the cheapest way to travel by train, 60ish people in one carriage 30 places arranged into groups of 4, two up two down, then the remaining 30 in pairs along the edge. The only ‘services’ that your ticket buys you are access to a toilet, bedding, a free mug and hot water. Needless to say after a total of 80 hours in this I am going to stay in Moscow for a bit. Luckily I had a good book, Dr. Zhivago, a chess set and I like looking out of the window at the Russian steppe.

One of the hi-lights of the trip was when the Bab who was sat below me on the train decided to start talking to me, two of the best conversations are as follows:

First introductory conversation

Bab: So where are you going? Where are you from?

Me: I am off to Moscow, we were on holiday in Sochi. Originally I am from London and he (pointing at Simon) is from Birmingham.

Bab: Ah London! So you’re American

My head: Oh brilliant another mental old woman, I’ve come on holiday to escape them not be harassed by one.

Me: No I am from London

Bab: So you’re American

Me: (giving up hope somewhat) No, I am not American, I am English I come from London,

Bab: (pointing as Simon) Ah, is he your husband?

Me: (giving up and thinking that it’s really just not worth trying to explain) Yes, he’s my husband.

NB In Russian there isn’t a real word for boyfriend and in Russian culture there isn’t really a step between being friends with a guy and being married to them. Lots of people also marry very young so it is not uncommon for someone my age to be married with a child.

A little later into the trip when I decide that I have had enough of coughing and having a runny nose so decide to mix up an aspirin.

Bab: You’re ill?

Me: yes, I have a runny nose and a cold, I think it’s because I caught cold in the rain storm in Sochi

Bab: You need Antibiotics and a Doctor, not aspirin that will make you very ill.

My head: Where on earth am I going to get antibiotics from and how on earth can I visit a Doctor I am on a train!

Me: (deciding to be diplomatic) Yes, I will go to the Doctor when I get back to Moscow

Bab: good, (then starts telling me that aspirin is very bad for me and that I will get very ill, it will be bad for child birth etc) you know what you need? Tea, lots of hot tea!

Me: Yes I will have some tea later

My head: Great I am stuck on a train with another bab I have to appease, I am going back to my bunk to read I want some peace and not be told that the solution to a cold is to drink tea, rub garlic on my forehead, sprinkle flour in my shoes or any other ridiculous Bab methods of healing a cold rather than take Lemsip or any other cold medicine then lie in bed all day watching TV.

Sadly no amusing conversations have happened recently as I have lost my voice making it hard to argue with anyone. Having written this I am going back to bed to watch Chick Flicks and break into the supply of Easter Eggs and chocolate my mother gave me before I left England it’s holy week, they have been in there since January, I am ill I think I have a valid excuse to eat them early.

2 comments:

Damon Lord said...

I shouldn't laugh, but I love reading this blog. You should write a book: "Me and my Babushka" or something like that!

Laura-Rose said...

Not a bad idea, I have had literally hundreds of pointless conversations with Babushkas in Russia where I end up just giving up and agreeing to whatever they want or say. Bab logic as we call it is so amusing that sometimes we can't believe they are beign serious!