Friday, March 12, 2010

3/11 St Petersburg: Comradettes

Cousin Paul, Aunt Anya, Olga, and I had a "business lunch" today at the Viking-themed restaurant Valhall. The "Lemonades" section (both in the Russian and English menus) listed all of the soft drinks. There are no lemonades anywhere to be found. In some parts of The States, "Coke" is used to refer to all sodas: Root Beer coke, Sprite coke, Pepsi coke. It would seem the same is true here - but with lemonade. Olga says it's a Soviet holdover that is not very commonly used.

Russian people - particularly of our parents and grandparents generations - do not drink anything during meals, and like to order tea or coffee after the meal. Usually by this point I am extremely parched. You can find the Americans in the restaurant by looking for people drinking Coke (or in this case Lemonades) during the meal.

On the way to Aunt Maya's flat, we shared a crowded bus ride with, among many other people, two girls who were studying English. Olga heard one whisper to the other "too bad we didn't have English class today" as we shared glances and they struggled to write "Hi" on the steamed up window. One eventually drew "i'm alina" and we had a mini conversation mostly consisting of them saying hi, me returning the greeting, and them giggling.

The visit to Aunt Maya's went as expected. We started with a second lunch and a nice nap for me. Once recharged, I "fixed" her CD player (it was unplugged) and her DVD player (switched TV to AV2). Then after a reward of many desserts, I relaxed with a book - all the while she and Olga were deep in discussions about philosophy and books and friends. For me, a visit to Maya's is all about eating, fixing something, and napping - very similar to a visit to my own Bubby's. For Olga though, it is a place of deep conversation. These are two of the many sides of Maya, a complex yet simple woman.

1 comment:

Karen said...

My grandparents didn't drink anything during meals, either. But they weren't Russian. I hated that as a kid.