Monday, December 8, 2008

The Market

Aren't our kids adorable? I was just trying to take a picture of me, the snowman, and the twins, and was suddenly surrounded by some of my favorites. The little boy in the front (Sasha, surprise, surprise) says Merry Christmas in the most adorable accent every time he sees me. I got it on video, so hopefully I can post that sometime soon!

This past weekend our Saturday activity was going to the Tretyakov art gallery in Moscow. It was really really amazing. The best part was that Gulya has been showing us prints from there during our culture classes as she taught us about the history of Russia. It made me feel pretty intelligent when I recognized a lot of the paintings and even knew a little about the history of some of them.

We were going to go tour a submarine after that, but when we got there we found that it would be a 90min wait, so we decided to leave. Lisa (my cousin) and I were together, apart from the rest of the group, so we just went and shopped around the nearest market for a little while. We each bought a pair of rabbit fur socks, and that's all. If any of you know Lisa, you know how miraculous that is. Let's just say, I think everything ever made that turns out ugly is sent to Russia to be sold in the market. At home, when I go shopping in a coat or boot store (which is the bulk of what there is at the market) I think most things are cute and then I find one or two things that are ugly. Not so here—we play the "find the one thing in this booth you might be caught dead wearing" game. My theory is that during communism there wasn't much variety—cars were all the same color, everyone lived in the same drab apartment buildings, wore plain black coats, etc. So, now that there is more variety available, they still haven't caught on to the idea that certain things are fashionable and others aren't. I kind of forgot about fashion, and got used to the black Russian boots with buckles and the long shiny coats with ugly fur on the hats and sleeves. But then we went and toured Sweden and Finland and I remembered there are cute things in this world. And I bought some for myself. That was fun.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera on Saturday, but one of the other girls took these pictures in September. The fall coats are definitely less ugly than the winter ones, but it kind of gives you an idea of what the market is like.

The fun thing about the market though, was that I could speak some Russian. I don't get a chance to speak much at all during the week because we're either in our apartment or at the school teaching English, but I got some practicing in at the market. It was tons of fun. I found myself asking if they had things in other colors and if I could try them on. Of course it starts getting really fun when it's time to leave...(I only have 2 weeks left!) Hopefully someday I'll have more of an opportunity to speak it. I feel frustrated sometimes that I didn't get to learn much Russian, but then at the same time, I can understand enough to get by, and communicate enough to get around the city. I know what Russian sounds like, which is a big part of learning a language for me. And now I know I'll really learn it, eventually. We were walking home from church on Sunday and a woman stopped us and asked us something in Russian. I didn't understand what she said, so I said we didn't speak Russian, but she just kept on talking. She said she spoke German, and asked if we were American. I said yes, and then she asked if we were there learning Russian. I felt embarrassed that I could hardly speak it so I said "no, we're here teaching English." I thought it was funny that I had said we didn't speak Russian and she still kept on chatting. It was fun though. It's not too often you meet chatty, smiley Russians on the street, so I thought I'd take advantage of that one!

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