Saturday, June 30, 2012

Basic Incompetency

I'm no stranger to confusion.  I spend probably 50% of my normal daily life not being exactly sure what is going on.  Here it's more like 80%.  I exist in a state of perpetual confusion, and for the most part, I'm okay with this.  Being perplexed forces you to pay more attention to your surroundings, and you learn more.  Something I'm still not accustomed to, however, is the difficulty in making myself understood and the challenge of completing simple interactions.  Even if I try to prep myself by practicing the phrases I will use and looking up any words I might need beforehand, there are always curveballs.  This usually results in my signature Blank Stare, which is answered by a "what is your problem" stare from whoever I'm talking to.  Because I look like I could be Russian, the first assumption is that I'm an idiot.  Depending on how long the interaction lasts, the other party may or may not realize I'm a foreigner.  How Evgeni Malkin sounds to us when he gives interviews in English is basically how I sound to Russian people when I speak Russian.  Some examples of me in action:
Going to try on clothes at the store:
Me: I have four clothings.
Fitting Room Lady: This is the men's fitting room.
Me: (signature Blank Stare)
Fitting Room Lady: ...This is the men's fitting room.
Me: (comprehension dawning) Oh, I'm sorry.

Getting lunch in the cafeteria:
Guy in Line Behind Me: афйоаьгвкьйлвнйлауиькфмднвканйиелрчриайк *
Me: Pardon me?
Guy: авнйкнвишеуфоерфуионмвйчуиераписдк?
Me: (Blank Stare) I'm sorry, I don't understand.
Guy: (gives "are you an idiot" stare) You don't understand?
Me: No, I am a foreign student.
Guy: (gives up)
*I think he was trying to make small talk about the juice with fruit in it that they usually have at lunch.  No clue.  Maybe he was saying it was good, or that it wasn't good?  I drank it anyway.  No adverse affects.

Getting a hot dog in a pretzel roll from the food stand owned by possible Kazakh gypsies:
Me: I would like one hot dogs, please.
Possible Kazakh Gypsy Lady: What?
Me: Hot dogs?  In a roll?  I would like?
Possible Kazakh Gypsy Lady: A sausage?
Me: No, a hot dogs, please. (pointing to the hot dogs in the window)
Possible Kazakh Gypsy Lady: Aha! (gold-toothed smile)
Me: (smile of relief because I am getting a hot dog) Thank you!

Man, those hot dogs are delicious.  Overall, I'm okay with people thinking I'm an idiot, because I know I'm making progress.  Last night though, I went to see a play ("Three Years" by Chekhov) of which I understood very little, and by the time I got out of the theater I was exhausted and felt dumb as a brick.  I was having a lot of trouble putting coherent sentences together and conversing with the Russian people that we were with, which was making me more exhausted, which was making me more incoherent, and so on.  I'm pretty sure they thought I was a complete airhead, which I'm not okay with, and so by the time I got home I was very grumpy.  The only remedy for that is to get some rest and remember that tomorrow is a fresh day with no mistakes in it (yet!).
A gorgeous pink palace I saw while walking around last night.  Possibly Catherine the Great lived here?  Too tired to have any idea what was going on at this point.

No comments:

Post a Comment