Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The very wee small hours of Christmas Day - as you can see, minus 4 & it's snowing!

'The lean' - rarely flattering



Nate, me & Sheri





A happy Christmas dinner - there is some food amongst all that booze, I swear




Apologies for belatedness of Christmas message - recuperating slightly yesterday morn then teaching in the evening, so no opportunities to spread Christmas cheer. However, Russian Christmas is not, as I've informed all you kiddies, until 7th Jan, so by Russian standards I'm early.

Anyway, to bring you all up to speed with my exciting weekend adventures... Friday night I went to see a Russian band called Deti Picassa (Picasso's children), who had been described to me as 'like the Russian Bjork'. Yes, I went anyway... They were okay, place was pretty chill, fun had by all. Plus the coat-check man said I looked pretty in three languages. (He went for Russian first, I said I didn't understand so he switched to English. This, considering I said "thankyou", I clearly did understand. But he decided to throw in some French anyway. [In the hope that I would be swept off my feet by the trilingual coat-check boy??] Don't know what the French part was, I was too confused by the skills of this cunning linguist to follow...)

Saturday I slobbed around in bed until the afternoon (luxury) then went into town and planned Mon & Tues' lessons - yes, working on a Saturday is lame, but it means today and yesterday mornings blissfully free, so it was worth it. After that, I took a stroll on Arbat street, where I had been informed you can go for all the Russian souvenir tat your heart could possibly desire. I got a Christmas present for Melani, but that was it. I also almost fell over, and when I looked to see what I had stumbled on, it turns out it was a cellphone in working order. I later managed to return it to its owner (a difficult feat, since the conversation mostly consisted of him going "blah blah blah" in Russian and me going "I don't understand". I also, stupidly, informed him "I have your cellphone". Well, duh...) so that was my Christmas good deed - straight to Heaven with me! Then I had an interesting chat with a Kazakhstani guy who was trying to sell me t-shirts. At first it went well - he was so impressed by my New Zealandness that he asked to take a photo of me on his cellphone "So that I have a photo of a New Zealander". Well, that's what he said it was for, at least... He slightly annoyed me by taking the photo and then looking at it and going "Normalno", which means exactly what you think it does. You could at least have said "krasivaya" (pretty)! But then the only size in this t-shirt I wanted to buy (picture of Putin and [in Russian] 'the president needs you' = cool) was men's XL. So I said, "it's very big" and he said something to the effect that "it will fit you though"... That's not the way to make a sale! Apart from the fact that I was wearing my big winter coat, it came down to my mid-thighs. Grrrr. But the t-shirt will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine. There are t-shirt vendors all over this city, Mr!

Then I went home and spent Saturday night in the flat, playing Yahtzee and Boggle with Melani. Fun times! Ha ha.

On Sunday, I declined Melani's invite to church ("I made a list of all the English-speaking churches in Moscow that weren't Catholic!" ah ha ha ha) in favour of lounging around in bed some more. Then at night we headed out to Christmas dinner - roast vegetables! bread sauce (weird, but not bad)! stuffing! chicken! coagulated chocolate 'fondue'! vodka! bubbly! Good times had by all! Caught one of the last metros home, after midnight, and arrived back in my own burb in the wee small hours of Christmas morning - minus 4 and snowing, a White Christmas indeed.

Most of Christmas morning was spent recovering in bed, as aforementioned. When I finally did get up, it was a gorgeous sunny day, with fresh sparkly white snow everywhere (started snowing again later, but when I first headed out it was as perfect a white Christmas as you could wish for). Good news was that all but one of my classes were cancelled this week. They made an elaborate cover schedule for me, on the theory that 'idle hands are the devil's playthings', but it did mean that I got out of having an observed lesson. Woohoo! The day ended badly, when I had to teach an Upper Intermediate class that they'd told me was Intermediate (the SECOND time they've done that to me), so I wasn't prepared at all... But oh well.

Then it was home for a Christmas dinner of hot dogs (sweet!) and watching the football highlights on TV. And enjoying the stripey socks Melani got me.

Hope all of your Christmases were equally exciting!

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