July 15th 2011
We have now reached the halfway point of our program. Four intense weeks have flown by with still another four to come.
This week, I must confess will sound somewhat boring. I blame it on the fact that it was midterm week and the majority of my time was spent in review.
On Sunday, I went out an art museum with Masha. It was rainy and miserable and I looked rather like a drowned cat by the time she arrived. The museum had a large collection of older Russian icons and strangely, enough, an exhibition on antique fans. Speaking of fans, I bought one and felt like such a tourist doing so. I am now the proud owner of a fan with pictures of Kazan’s major landmarks that I pull out every time it gets too hot and stuffy, especially on the bus. It is probably a dead giveaway that I am a foreigner.
Monday after class, my professor, Gulnaz gave us a lecture on tourism in Russia, followed by a Jeopardy style game, which my group spectacularly…lost.
Monday, was also Lena's birthday. Birthdays in Russia are huge, lasting several hours, with continuous flow of food and drinks. We ate at this little restaurant off Balman Street. There were eight of us, six of them went through three bottles of champagne, only Susha and I abstained. Gifts were, of course, exchanged, everyone knows of Lena’s love for earrings so she received several pairs. It is also tradition for the guests to deliver a toast to the birthday girl or boy; I even gave a small one. After my toast, Lena’s friends asked what we Americans say when we clink glasses. I honestly could not remember anything but “cheers,” and that is kind of boring, so I taught them how to say “cheers” in Welsh. From then on, after every toast when we went to clink glasses, they said “Iechyd da.” While we were at the restaurant, four Americans showed up, and they did not know a lick of Russian, so guess who ended up helping them to order. They were very friendly and were only planing to be in Kazan’ for a few days on business, something US government related. I figured it was probably “need to know,” so I did not ask questions. Our Russian girls found them very interesting, and later that night; they all ended up together at Coyote Ugly. I, also, made a brief pit-stop at Coyote Ugly for about fifteen minutes. Long enough to watch Lena danced on the bar top. Afterwards, one of Lena’s friends, Susha drove me home.
Tuesday, was a tour of house Lenin’s family rented when they lived in Kazan’. They resided there for a grand total of nine months. Lenin and his family, the Ulyanovs moved to Kazan’ after the execution of Lenin's older brother for revolutionary activities.
We are also headed to
Until Next Time,
Once again, Оля