Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Half Brothers?!/Дедушка pt. II

I've been getting a lot of love off of the Obama Moscow visit. Russians are even more fascinated by me now more than ever.

My English is deteriorating. Which doesn't mean my Russian is improving but I just make a lot of mistakes when I'm writing and speaking it. I also will occasionally think to put the soft sign (ь) in certain English words. I'm the first person to notice when people make you're/your mistakes. I've been making them frequently. I also am messing up on punctuation.

At the post office today another old Russian man (between 65-74 years old) came up to me. He was dressed in an old but nice blazer and an old Nike cap and his shirt and trousers also seem to be pretty old too. He was holding a bag of something but I didn't know what was in it. He came up to me and shook my hand... Almost breaking it. He was about 5'8 and showed no signs of ever having any brute physical strength. However, the firmness and strength in his handshake immediately made me take him more seriously and engage in conversation with him. I tightened and firmed my grip appropriately matching his level of strength on my hand.

He asked me an assortment of very random questions in Russian. And I responded as best as I could. He eventually let go of my hand and handed the receptionist a melted ice cream in a plastic bag from the bag he was holding and thanked her for it. He then gripped my hand again. Even harder and I asked me if my father was okay. I told him that my father was fine. He then told me in Russian that I was very strong and healthy. I wished him good luck and health as he disengaged me and walked away.

As if things couldn't get any weirder...

I just had dinner.

When I was washing my hands. My right one in particular. I heard someone playing the guitar in the kitchen/living room. I was preparing myself to meet up with some more of my host moms strange friends or maybe some of her patients (which sometimes come here I think) but instead I go into the kitchen and see two young blonde haired boys. She tells me that they are her half-brothers (in English). I thought she was just misunderstanding so I asked her if she meant cousins or nephews. But it turns out that this 14-year-old and 11-year-old are actually the sons of her father.

The older one plays hockey and he has really nice singing voice and plays the guitar extraordinarily well. He has really good technique and he knows how to play a lot of popular/cool English songs. The younger one according to my host mom is the champion table tennis player of St. Petersburg for his age group. When I first walked into the kitchen the older one wanted to shake my hand but it was still wet so I gave him a fist pound and he seemed to like that. As soon as his brother saw this he ran up to me to get a fist pound too. Dinner was really good by the way tonight. I had been invited to dinner by a friend yesterday and didn't tell my host mom. I felt bad and apologized today but she said that it wasn't a problem.

I offered to take them to the gym with me (I'm about to go right after this) cause they have table tennis there and some hockey training things. My host mom called her dad and set up a play date for us all. I am supposed to hang out with them all on Friday around one o'clock and play sports in their neighborhood... They don't live far from my school. Should be interesting.

As for my host moms father I talked to him on the phone and he speaks perfect English. No accent or anything. I'm sure he's Russian but she told me that he lived in Canada for quite some time. He's a huge fan of sports and I guess that's why both of his sons are both star athletes. My host mom never played any sports... Weirdest thing was that over the phone this man sounded like he wasn't a day older than 35. His voice was so youthful and English so on point that I almost said, "alright homie, later" before I got off the phone with him.

I realize now that my Russian fluctuates depending on how well I'm paying attention to what I'm reading or who I'm speaking with. If I'm completely focused on the person talking or what I'm reading then I can effectively communicate. If I've got other things on my mind or am trying to speak Russian and do something else at the same time then I sound like an idiotic foreigner. I find that I do my best work when I sit in the front row and don't take my eyes of the teacher for a second.

I'm going to go run to the gym now. I have to lift and I'll probably run some pick up games. When I get back I'll sketch out a little bit of my homework and then I'm going to go out with some friends.

Stay Tuned.

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