Tuesday, September 07, 2004

aha! and, lunch.

or more properly, аха! the email posts are again working. i'm currently in the yaroslavl state university room that was set aside for the very small basically non-department of russian as a second language, which means i'm working from a very old windows 98 machine and mostly trusting that the small horizontal lines running across the 'screen' are, indeed, my text.

this morning i experienced the closest thing yet to the american notion of good customer service. on sunday our group all had photos taken in a little shop near my apartment for our visas and student cards, but mine didn't turn out properly - i blinked. In american photo studios they seem to take either a couple pictures or to at least check on the digital screen to be certain that picture came out; here, to my surprise, the gentleman snapped but one picture no more than 10 seconds after i sat down (i wasn't asked to say cheese, and judging by even the bridal photographs on the wall, smiling isn't traditional) and quickly called in the next subject. anyway he was just opening his shop while i was walking past it on the way to the university and he invited me to step in and redo the picture quickly so that i wouldn't be too late to class. it turns out i was fortunate to have caught the owner/photographer and not his secretary, who arrived just after i did. she screamed at the next guy who came in that it wasn't 9 yet and that he'd have to wait (even though the door was open and it was very evident that they had already accepted one customer).

also i've noticed that every time i order something, i almost invariably get a НЕТУ! which is a curt and colloquial answer something along the lines of there aren't/isn't any. nothing tremendously unusual about that, except that in american people are more in that the habit of either apologizing for not having something they typically have or suggesting something analogous. at lunch today i wanted две сосиски в тесте, which i could see through the glass window and which i thought would be left to me by the two old women in front of me. not so. fortunately i had already prepared my запасной вариант and was able to order something else without having to annoy the already clearly overworked girl at the counter or the 8 thirsty russians behind me.

my one mistake, apparently, was ordering a coke. that really through the girl off, which in turn made me nervous. i realized later that everyone else in this little cafeteria i found was at the very least drinking a beer, and some were drinking either beer with vodka or just glasses of vodka. which is to say, glasses in the sense of стаканы, that is, what an american might expect to be served a glass of water or soda in.

all things considered it was a good lunch. cheap, fast, much. i guess the блины kiosk on the corner closes in bad weather, which is too bad as i was planning on visiting it again. i ended up talking with a very unhappy guy who (i'm not sure) either works in or around the university in some custodial position. i'm not sure how that will compare to the relatively nicer cafe bosphor where my friends went for lunch and are presumably still eating, but i'll let you know once i check it out.

this afternoon's mission: walking around town to various university buildings to try and find and sign up for a mainstream class. i might just run back home first and grab my umbrella.