Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Random stories from the first couple of days

From the section Cultural Differences, the award for weirdest phrase in my Russian phrasebook goes to…

“I don’t mind watching, but I’d prefer not to participate.”


I came down a few minutes late for lunch on Saturday and was greeted by the normally silent and stoic waiters following me with a cell phone camera. They let me walk into the wrong dining hall where the wedding was being set up and then followed me on foot into the alternative dining hall. They said something in Russian to me and when they realized I only spoke English, the guy holding the Sony Ericcson camera phone told me in English to say, “I love Russia” into the camera.

After obliging and finally being seated at the table with the remaining 4 volunteers, the longest tenured volunteer explained that during parties it is customary for the waiting staff to drink with the guests, and the guests are even offended if they don’t. Apparently our waiter got started a little early.

He later came back after being reprimanded by his supervisor and apologized in broken English, introduced himself as Andre, and proceeded to offer me some vodka.


One kid, Kiril, at the Hospital for Kids winks almost constantly at all the volunteers. Don’t know why, or what he means by it, but I’ve stopped questioning it and just wink back.


Although we’ve yet to hear it yet, the old volunteers informed us that Akon- Smack That used to be a staple of the breakfast mix in the hotel’s restaurant. The music in the restaurant deserves a post all its own a little later. We’ve been trying to keep track of every song we recognize.

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