Saturday, 26 September 2009

Translator for hire...

I'm posting this on the bus from Heathrow to Oxford. Oh the joys of this modern age...

Its been a long few hours in purgatory but I'm pleased to announce I've landed back in England in one piece with all my luggage and sanity intact. Thanks to the joys of German efficiency (more on that later) I arrived at my connection ten minutes early allowing for a quick march to the departure gate, rather than a frantic dash.

The real point of this post is that slightly tongue in cheek comment that makes up the title of this little diversion. In the course of a two hour flight from St Peterburg to Munich what started out as a helpful translation of a fellow passengers drink request - from "Sok" (Russian) to "Juice" (English) to "Zaft" (German) not to mention coffee with milk... - for the benefit of the cabin crew, I was rewarded with a pleasant 'chit-chat' the rest of the way.

I can speak Russian! I can understand Russian! I can even acknowledge the universal joke that is national stereotypes and that aforementioned view of German efficiency...in Russian! I came away with a telephone number and email of a Russian academic based in St Petersburg, travelling with his wife to Portugal. His command of English was negligable forcing my Russian to come to the surface and I couldn't be more satisfied with my progress. I am chuffed!

I need to find more Russians to speak to. I'm a couple of weeks away from kicking off my studies and my only hope now is that there are some native Russian speakers willing to indulge my new found confidence. Yes there are gaps, yes my mind was frantically constructing sentences in the correct cases during those opportune moments where he chatted to his wife, but still, at my question as to whether his trip to Portugal was for a well earned break. (Cleverly wielding the verb 'to relax' that suddenly appeared from no where!) I could offer a knowing smile at his comment that no, this wouldn't be a chance to relax with all the walking his wife would want to be doing...

Enough said for now, my next task is grappling with the logistics of a both starting university and planning for a return in December. Hopefully this optimism spills over to both and I hit the ground running...

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