All I can say is that these people have study abroad programs down to a science. As we disembarked the bus, a veritable army of babushki ambushed us. ‘Света? Какая Света?” “Мери?” After having been identified by my own personal babushka, given my cell phone by Jack and a list of all of our numbers, still dazed and confused mind you, I was whisked into a taxi and taken away into the great Russian unknown.
People are not kidding when they say that babushki, literally ‘grandmothers’ but here used as any older woman who just plain gets shit DONE, run the country. These women were totally prepared to pick us up at 7 am in the dark and get us moving in the oddest drill-instructor fashion. Tanya, my host mother, is a diminutive creature of perhaps 4′ 6″, stocky, but still curvy. In a light-colored coat down to her ankles and a grey fur hat, she completes the seminal babushka look.
Her home is exactly as the home stay coordinator said – warm and cozy, with plenty of intelligent conversation. This morning over breakfast, we discussed the weather (a must), and she asked about our long trip snd the delays therein. I managed to talk about my time in DC a bit, and we even made a political joke. BAM! It could be worse! All this of course was in between ‘ешьте! ешьте!’ I was glad to help her fry the eggs, though I had never cracked them with a knife before. Which actually made perfect sense though, given the intensity of the pan we were frying them in… I’m still not touching the random cream. Not ready for that yet. But the jam is delicious, and I’m thrilled at the amount of tea I am constantly being offered!
After breakfast she showed me around the small apartment. That was basically all I could handle at the moment, so I asked if I could shower. She showed me how it worked before leaving for the store, also calling the home phone so that i would know what the ringer sounds like. (FYI, its Swan Lake.) I was sound asleep by the time she returned.
This evening however she came to wake me up at 9:30, for dinner. I have to say again how impressed I am with myself. Not 100% of the time, but if I pick the topic, I can typically complete a conversation. That being said, I didn’t entirely pick the topics at dinner, but we discussed the weather today as compared to tomorrow, she asked me about my interest in sports and seemed amused that I enjoy hockey games. So I continued to ask about the stadium, was it far, were tickets expensive? At one point she asked me about my family, and after a while I figured out that she was asking about my heritage. That’s a question that I really appreciate, so I explained the English, German, Italian, and Irish backgrounds. She seemed to love that I was Irish, and told me how I looked like I was. We then discussed my new look (which I think is partially why she thought I looked irish) and she laughed when I told her that my parents don’t know about it yet. She’s a wonderful cook, and even went out and bought a little package of cookies for dessert! I wish I had been hungrier, but I get the feeling this is typical, so there will be plenty of time to try everything.
So since I literally slept all day, and it’s now almost midnight, here I am trying to occupy myself by blogging or writing, as unfortunately my phone seems to be out of minutes (as far as I could understand from The Voice), so I got several texts, but it won’t let me send anything back, nor even call anyone. So I’m stuck at home, in a foreign country, with no Internet and no cell service. That leaves writing letters! Luckily, the last girl who stayed here left some of her Russian reference/fun books on the shelf in my room (including a Russian bible!) so that should provide hours of entertainment.