Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Day in the Life

In case any of you wonder what it's like spending 6+ weeks here, it can get very monotonous so one tries to vary things. I am usually up by 7:15, trying to take a shower with the impossible shower nozzle that spurts out either 1. very hot water or 2. boiling water. Then it's four flights downstairs to the in-house restaurant where I can either have dumplings or eggs and something like ham, or "bleeni" which are like crepes. I never get enough jam or butter for my liking so I've learned how to ask for more of each. The young waitress who's there each morning never smiles. What is it about this culture that is so dour? The way people push their way through doors, never say hello or indulge in even the smallest politnesses - it reminds me of the darkest days of the Soviets.
I've also learned how to ask for "tea with milk" which is "chai es molokom." Today I went back to my room and had this riotous conversation with the maid asking for a clean glass for my bathroom. Problem is, I could not figure out the word for "clean." So we all sat there and giggled until I could borrow a friend's dictionary down the hall. I have determined that, since I am in this country seemingly forever, I will do my best to learn as much Russian as possible. So I am forcing myself to say complete sentences and navigate about the city.
At 9 a.m. the driver picks us up in a freezing van for the 45-minute drive to Rudny, a city of 100,000. It's still dark out so I slide about in the snow, trying to get to the bus. My apres-ski boots are useless on the packed, icy snow all about this city, so I've taken to wearing my high-heeled boots, which are surprisingly stable. One uses the heel to position oneself in the snow and get some stability. Thus I make my way about the city, going by the park to feed the cluster of pigeons there with extra bread from breakfast (the whole city drops by there to feed the birds) or to visit the park. For fun, the folks here like to *sit* on the snowy park benches in freezing weather. But there's little or no cross-country skiing or outdoor ice skating so go figure.
Also...people REALLY know how to dress here for the cold. It's a PETA nightmare, this place, for everyone is decked in all manner of furs and maxi coats.
(Will continue tomorrow)


Faith said...

Julia, remember with fondness the week in Washington last July when it was so-o-o hot! I hope some of that warmth is stored in your memory, like Frederick the Mouse who stores up sunshine for the dark months. Also, consider yourself warmly smiled at and hugged from a distance. The place sounds so grim, with the dour faces, the cold and snow, and little recreation. And you've discovered a positive function for stiletto heeled boots. Good for you! Is Veeka starting to smile at you when you arrive to see her? When that happens it will certainly light up a room! Faith

Gail said...

Tried to call you tonight but got a message that I couldn't complete the call. Is there another number to call you? Would love to be there with you for a day at least! Tell us more about Olivia, please. Thanks.

hateterrorists2 said...

HI Julia...I haven't had much time the past couple of days to read or write you because Daniel had a talk here at a church in front of 400 people, and then he whisked off to Texas to do another conference there with two talks.

He blasts the audience with their responsibilities, and he somehow gets awya with it, with his foreign accent and sense of humor.

It is good to be a foreigner sometimes....but it does not sound like much affects those people...the dour faces most likely come from a alck of hope for many years....I cannot imagine what it must be like to be alive with no hope and no joy...maybe a preview of the world to come.

From all this you are rescuing litle Veronica...and the experince will collapse into a few memories in time...hopefully, you can write as much as possible and take as many pictures as possible.

I would love to call you as well..however, right now it is 7 pm in Washington DC and therefore it is 6 am where you idea if you wanna be waked up.

I find it wonderful that the people all like to go to feed the birds...that shows a tenderness in the Middle east, people did not give a hoot about anything living...cats roamed wild, birdds got eaten regularly, so forth.

Ask the Lord to show you what is buried in those faces, and ask to see the heart of those people...what makes them smile...surely SOMETHING does...maybe they just wear their poker facews for public..some cultures do...but are very friendly behind closed doors.

I am going to pray that you will find a family that will take you udner their wing and show you the heart of the people more. It would be wonderful to know that you had humans around you...the isolation we Americans feel when we are in strange cultures can be throbbing.

May little Veronica soon learn to smile up at you and come to love you. She is a real picture of our own needy souls before the Face of God...and how slow we are to love Him!
Love, Sara

Faith said...

Looking forward to your next writing, Julia. I hope you and Veeka are well and continuing to bond. Faith