Selasa, 11 Februari 2014

The difference between you and You.

Another language themed blog for you.

At my job we currently have some visitors from Russia. This means a, that I get to practise my Russian and b, that I am reminded how abysmal my Russian is. I MUST try to keep it up more inbetween Russian visits/visitors.
Now, speaking Russian in a work situation has led to a new question about the complex Russian language... When should I say you and when should I say You?!

Or, explained better... Just like the French 'tu' and 'vous', Russian has a familiar and formal version of the word 'you'.

My understanding was always: if you are a family member or friend of a person you can address them using the informal 'ты' (tee) and if someone is simply an acquaintance, a colleague or older than you (and not a family member) you use the formal 'вы' (vee).

This leads me to a dilemma. I now consider my colleagues as friends but as they are my colleagues (and older than me *hides before they say I called them old*) should I ты (tee) or вы (vee) them?! 

"We're friends... but colleagues. HOW TO ADDRESS EACH OTHER IN RUSSIAN?!?!" The cast of Friend's laugh through their language pain. Maybe.

I decided to ask my Russian colleagues... And of course got 3 different answers:

"You should ALWAYS use 'вы' [vee] if someone is older than you. Even if you are best friends."

"At work you should address them with 'вы' [vee] but if you are friends you can say 'ты' [tee] outside of work."

"You can say 'ты' [tee] to anyone in any context if you are friends. But if you are unsure you should always use 'вы' [vee]."

Hmmm. Well, that was little to no help. I think I shall just stick to my own rule which is:

Say 'вы' (vee) until your friends are so embarrassed for you that they tell you the ты (tee) and вы (vee) rule again for the millionth time to explain that you can most definitely address them with ты.

Senin, 03 Februari 2014

A Very Russian Proposal

Should I start this blog with an apology that I haven't written in over a year? Maybe. But then I'd sound a bit like a broken record.

Although I've left it over a year to reignite my love of this blog... My love for most things Russia has never faded! I've not quite managed to move back to Russia yet... But I have managed to go and blag myself a job where I get to use my Russian and get to visit Russia at least once a year! Huzzah!

I'm still open to moving back to Russia sometime... But before that can happen I have one major life event to get out of the way... A wedding! Yes, Damien decided that he can put up with me for the rest of his life and popped the question! And he did it in a very Russian way...

Last August we spent a few weeks in Russia visiting friends. I loved showing him the places I've lived and visited and introducing him to my Russian friends! We visited St Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, and Moscow. Моя Москва (Maya Moskva) :)

This was the first time I've been back to Moscow since finishing my year abroad. It was weird being there as a tourist without a Russian student card... I had to pay full price everywhere! It's also an eye opener being there in August, tourist season. We had to queue for EVERYTHING! It took us 2 hours to queue for the Kremlin! I'd rather visit in February when it's -20 and get straight in! Impatient...

Anyway, the first place I wanted to take Damien was, of course, Red Square. This was the last place I went on my year abroad to say goodbye to the city.

So I wanted it to be the first place I took Damien to introduce him to my city! As we approached Red Square I realised half of it was closed. Standard. They were preparing for a concert. So we had a walk around near St Basils and then sat down facing the beautiful ice cream cone cathedral! Until a flock of birds came near us, I freaked out (I'm scared of birds...yeah, I know, it's weird) and we had to move up a few metres... Meaning Damien had to shove the ring he had just got out back into his pocket without me seeing (he did).

So, sat back down in a bird free spot, Damien turned to me and said,

"Сара, ты будешь выйти за меня замуж? (Sara, ti boodyesh vitiy za myenya zamoozh?)... Or, in English Will you marry me?" Googletranslate working its almost correct magic.

And presented me with a ring! 

I said "Да!" (Da!)

At which point Damien produced a padlock, on which he had written 'Дэмьен и Сара' (Damien and Sarah). Any of you who have read my earlier Russian wedding blog will remember that in Russia brides and grooms attach a padlock to a bridge on their wedding day. I don't know what we'll do with ours yet but it will have an appearance at the wedding!

So, pleasantries over, hugs given and photos taken (I am becoming quite good at the 'selfie'... so down with the kids), I then proceeded to tell Damien how sexist his proposal was.

In Russian, the verb for a man to marry is жениться (zhyenitsya) which literally means 'to find a wife', the verb for a woman to marry is выйти замуж (viyti zamoozh) which literally means 'to go behind a man'. So what Damien had asked me literally meant "Will you go behind me as a wife?" The answer to that is a firm Нет (nyet).

But I will go alongside him through life, as his wife.

So, this was a rather mushy blog... but an update on my life and a lesson in a Russian verb all in one!

Watch this space for the next one... I'll try not to make you wait another 12 months.

Senin, 07 Januari 2013

Christmas ain't over until Russia says!

It's that time of year again... Christmas is over, we're all back at work and completely broke after spending way too much over the festive season. Well, not for Russia because many religious holidays are still celebrated on the dates of the old Julian calender, therefore making Christmas day 7th January!

So hip hip hooray it's Christmas again today!!! Only, it's not really Christmas as we know it. Russian's don't tend to make a big deal out of Christmas... it is seen as a religious holiday and so down to the Soviet era's discouragement of religion, Russia never really caught the Westernised “present buying, over-eating, money spending” Christmas bug. Instead, New Years became the big holiday in Russia where trees are decorated, families gather, food is eaten and Дед Мороз (Dyed Moroz/Gradfather Frost - Father Christmas) and his granddaughter Снегурочка (Snyegurochka/The Snowmaiden) give gifts.

So what will be happening in Russia today for Christmas? For Russian Orthodox believers it is a day of long services that begin on Christmas Eve (January 6th). The traditional Christmas dinner is the 'Holy Supper' – 12 dishes to represent the 12 apostles including soup, fish, mushrooms and dumplings.

7thJanuary became a public holiday again after the collapse of communism so most people will do something to mark today. I asked my Russian friends what they will be doing to celebrate Christmas and most of them said that they had already celebrated at New Year so they wouldn't be doing too much today, but they will go and see their family for a meal.

Last year I didn't have a job and didn't really want Christmas to end so decided to hold my own very non-traditional Russian Christmas party! We ate mince pies, drank mulled wine and I even made some Russian doll cupcakes! So if like me, today is your first full week back at work and you are feeling the post-Christmas depression... grab a mince pie guilt free. Christmas ain't over until Russia says!

Selasa, 01 Januari 2013

Pasternak: done, Tolstoy: done. 2013's Challenge? Dostoyevsky.

Hello lovely readers and sorry to have kept you waiting so long. I know you have all been patiently sitting at your desks waiting for my next update... well here it is!!!

I've now been graduated a year, managed to get myself a job which involves going to Russia (score!) and have moved to Nottingham. Incidentally if anyone who speaks Russian and lives in Nottingham is reading this – please do email me, I would LOVE to speak Russian with you!

Since graduation and getting a job my study of the Russian language has drastically reduced... now when I go to Russia the first few days are a guessing game until I get back into it. However, now having the ability to choose what I read means I have managed to finally finish most of the novels on my university first year reading list. Excellent.

At the beginning of 2012 I read Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. I actually managed to do a pretty good presentation on this in university without actually reading the book (films are a great resource for any literature modules). Now I've actually read it, I don't have much to say about it... mainly because I can't remember much of it. In my book journal I have simply written “TOO LONG”. So there you go. (FYI this book did actually win the Nobel Prize for Literature and is widely regarded as one of the most important works of Russian fiction... so my review probably doesn't do it too much justice).

The big literary achievement of 2012 was that I read the ENTIRETY of Tolstoy's War and Peace. It took me a long 4 months to complete it and I had to read it on a Kindle (despite hating Kindles... I'm all for real books) as it actually hurt my arm to hold it up... but I did it! The first line I wrote about it in my book journal was “Way too long!”. Clearly I do not have a long attention span with Russian fiction.
However, I did enjoy reading War and Peace overall. The novel is split between depicting the French Invasion of Russia in the 1800s and life in St Petersburg and Moscow society at the time. In a somewhat stereotypical girlish way I found the war chapters dull but loved the chapters on society and family life in the 1800s. The characters I found the most intriguing were Mary; a hard working, kind, country girl and Natasha; the silly, girlish daughter of St Petersburg's Count Rostov. I find that Tolstoy is so good at characterising women in his novels, however it could be said that he does usually write women in the same way. Mary and Natasha are very similar to the characters of Kitty and Anna in Anna Karenina.
One of my favourite quotes of the novel can be found in Book 14, Chapter 1 of the Kindle version I was reading, “The war was being carried on contrary to all the rules – as if there were any rules for killing people.” A comment made in the 1800s that unfortunately is still true of our world today.

Talking of Tolstoy, 2012 saw the release of the new Anna Karenina film. It had some bad points – Keira Knightly was (as expected) not a good choice for Anna. She only has two faces and both of those are pouting. She is not Anna. However, I did really like the concept of the film. Rather than making an epic film to match the epic story, the director Joe Wright went for more of a theatre performance. I've read some reviews that really didn't like it but I thought it was very clever and worked well. I also enjoyed the way that the characters Kitty and Levin were portrayed. Here's a little snippet:

I feel I have exhausted Tolstoy for a while and so in 2013 my challenge is: Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment has been lurking on my shelf mocking me for not having the courage to read it for 3 years. Once I've read it I can finally join in the Tolstoy vs Dostoyevsky debate like a real Russian fiction scholar...Or I can just show off about reading it on facebook.

Selasa, 25 Desember 2012

Icerinks in St. Petersburg

Ice skating is one of the most loved Russian entertainments - may be this is one of the reasons why Russians are so good in figure skating? There are over 30 rinks working this winter all over the city. We have selected for you the best central spots and encourage you to test this traditional Russian winter activity - lots of fun guaranteed!

1. Icerink on Ostrovsky Square (площадь Островского / Ploshchad Ostrovskogo). 
The most popular and central rink in the city. Could be fun in early hours, when it is not overcrowded. Enjoy Christmas market, mulled wine and fun on ice! You can combine this activity with the visit to the recently reopened famous Merchant Yeliseev shop

Nearest metro: Gostiny Dvor (green line), Nevsky Prospect (blue line)
Work hours: 12.00-22.00
Entrance fee: RUB 200/hr
Skate hire: RUB 150/hr
Deposit: RUB 2000
Coach service: free by volunteers from local sports institutions 
Works till 14th January 2013 (as the Christmas market itself). 

2. Indoor rink in the Taurida Garden (Таврический сад / Tavricheskiy Sad). 
Warm and well-arranged rink with 1-hour session and limited capacity of up to 90 people per session. No deposit required for skate hire! You can have a ride on your way to the Water Museum, located just across the street. 

Nearest metro: Chernyshevskaya (red line)
Work hours: 10.00-22.00, additional night sessions 22.00-5.00 on Fridays and Saturdays (in 2012 - 29 and 30 Dec). Check the schedule on the official web-site
Entrance fee: RUB 350-400/hr for adults, RUB 250-400/hr for kids
Skate hire: RUB 150/hr
Deposit: not required
Coach service: special request only

3. Indoor rink at Yubileyny, Dobrolyubova emb. 18 (набережная Добролюбова/ naberezhnaya Dobrolyubova, 18). 
The rink is very popular for its night rides with dance music and cafe. We suggest you to visit it as a warming up before the night clubs or to combine with the Peter and Paul fortress tour during the day.

Nearest metro: Sportivnaya (violet line)
Work hours: 
daytime - depend on the training sessions, can be confirmed by tel. 498-60-43 
nights - Fri, Sat, Sun 23.00-05.00
Entrance fee: 
daytime - RUB 250-350/session (1hr15min) on workdays-weekends 
nights - RUB 400/night
Skate hire: 
daytime - RUB 200/session
nights - RUB 150/hr
daytime - RUB 1500 or driving license 
nights - RUB 2000 or driving license
Coach service: n/a

Have fun!

Senin, 24 Desember 2012

Christmas and New Year Greetings from our little friend Danila and his cheerful Snowman!

Dear friends, colleagues and partners!

Let the Christmas and New Year be as bright and surprisingly pleasant, as our cooperation and this amazing picture!

Snowest wishes,
Mango Travel team, Danila and his cheerful Snowman

Danila, 5 y.o. is a nephew of our colleague Eva Simuni. For a small sweet fee, he gave up drawing his favorite brown cars for a while and created this great card.

Senin, 17 Desember 2012

Mango Travel Events: Conference for System Integrator Company Trinity

Image Source - Trinity 

As we are not only holding queue-free tours to the Hermitage and other museums, here is a short report from our recent event for our dearest regular customer Trinity.  
Image Source - Trinity 

In November 2012 Trinity together with Hitachi Data Systems organised a conference on new effective IT components for organization of virtual cloud information landscapes for companies. Didn't understand a word in the last sentence? Well, we too. However it didn't obstract us from arranging the event, as we all did what we knew best: Trinity and Hitachi took care of IT solutions and server hardware, while Mango Travel Conference Manager Eva Simuni assured that all the participants enjoy comfortable atmosphere and delicious meal.

Image Source - Trinity 

The whole-day event took place in a beautiful 5-star hotel Sokos Palace Bridge. During the conference guests enjoyed presentation of Hitachi representative in Russia, mixed with delicious croissants and dances on servers (see the fist picture of this post). At the end of the conference participants were awarded with a great banquet in one of the most Spanish hotel’s restaurants Sevilla
Image Source - web-site of Sokos Hotels

Companies and places mentioned in this article:
1. Trinity - System Integrator Company, creating your IT infrastructure in Russia
Offices in 4 major Russian cities including St. Petersburg and Moscow.

2. Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge 5* - excellent hotel for your comfortable stay and event
There are 2 more Sokos hotels in St. Petersburg - Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky 4* and Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden 4*

3. Mango Travel - Russian DMC (destination management company), MICE organiser in St. Petersburg, owner of this blog :)

P.S. Nearly forgot to mention that this Trinity was born way earlier than Matrix one and had nothing to do with Carrie-Anne Moss (unfortunately)!