Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's More than a Feeling

A bit of an impasse on the culturo-linguistic front. Much as I try to break through this plateau/barrier that’s arisen in my own head
and it’s all in my head
But she’s touching his chest – now -
I am still finding that I am thinking in English when I’m in the city, and translating, and when I’m back at the dorm, even when I’m trying to write in English, I’m thinking in Russian and translating back into English.

It’s all a very strange, weird, backward system, my brain.

The impasse becomes physical, interpersonal, when I come against bilingual Russians. For example, at the gym, the girls in the office are very proud of the fact that they can speak English, and initiate conversations with me in English. I have a gut reaction I can trace back (almost to the day) to St. Petersburg, that states
Input: Russian speaks to you in English
Output: Respond in Russian.
I don’t know if it’s to prove something, or stubbornness…or…what.

As the movie title goes, something has to give. It’s about fifty-fifty, from what I can immediately recollect, sometimes devolving into English, sometimes into Russian.

The impasse continues on the cultural front. I don’t consider myself to look Russian, do not want to become or, as the borrowed verb in Russian goes, pretendovat’ at being Russian (this weird mixture of pro- and anti-American sentiment, flavored with Wanderlust and homesickness, is an entirely different post) yet all of this aside, I apparently pass reasonably well at appearing to be at home in Moscow, if not from Moscow. Every day I’m getting stopped more and more on my walk to the library, to the gym, back to the dorm, so people can ask if I know where things are.

It’s a great feeling when I can give them clear directions. It doesn’t always happen. Yesterday I told a woman to wait until she saw a church on the right that gave her a Spanish feeling, and then turn left. I should probably find out the name of that church, just in case someone asks me the same question again. Else I should learn how to describe the details that make up an Art Nouveau building, because that adjective is not in the vocabulary of normal people.

This whole asking-me-questions thing is weird, though. I never approach men, no matter what age, to ask the time. I usually go for middle-aged to older women, who not only are knowledgeable but are usually nice (according to Russian standards of stranger-danger niceness) as well.

Today’s ROD
Ona voznikaet u vas ispanskoe chuvstvo. It’ll make a Spanish feeling arise in you.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Your mam makes a Spanish feeling arise in me...

Sorry. Impulse.