I know I know! Week 9 & 10? Talk about being lazy, but no. I have finally, finally finished ‘Culture Shock! Russia’ and I have so much to talk about.
To sum it up right away, it’s been amazing! When we think of a language, we just imagine foreign words and sounds, but since when is a language mere total of its words? Reading up on Russian culture is helping me a lot, even in the sense of helping me read Russian literature someday, as was the original plan. After all, their national character has often found its way in the works of several Russian literary masters, such as Chekhov, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dostoevsky and you can probably see how long this list can get.
A rather funny side note from the book comes to mind to explain this point. Anton Chekhov was, in his youth, known for his humorous tales. One of them, titled The Stupid Frenchman, finds a French clown Henri Pourquoi on a tour to Moscow. He goes to a restaurant there and sees a Russian man eating bliny (a form of Russian pancake) with caviar. As he gasps at the fact that a man is eating that much dough, the quantity of blinies keeps increasing as more and more get brought, along with soup, fish and onion, again and again. As the Russian man enjoys his traditional multi-course meal, Henri concludes that this man is attempting suicide in the most unusual of ways, by overeating! He goes to the Russian to appeal about the joy that life is, why he should hold on to it and that things will get better soon. The man gets pretty surprised as he is just grabbing a quick bite before the real banquet for which he has been invited in the evening! Henri leaves the scene, exclaiming “Oh, country of miracles!” or as they say in Russian <<О страна, чудная страна!>>
So that’s that about ‘the mysterious Russian soul‘, which would always need cultural context in order to be enjoyed and understood. I am usually wary of cultural guides as they are often rife with stereotypes and lack much substance. This one, however, is written by the professor of my friend and she vouched for it and it really was a great read.
In the writing practice, I learnt a lot of new words but it was still less owing to the time I was spending reading the book. Tomorrow onwards, however, it won’t happen (hopefully!) as I can go back to devoting more time writing. The reason I didn’t post last week was that I was in the middle of the book and I wanted to conclude on something. Posting today feels much better as I concluded the book. So, that’s that about my week 9 and 10 learning Russian. Hope you guys liked it. пока пока! (i.e. Bye bye!)
P.S. The featured image is a click of whatever writing practice I was able to do over the past two weeks.
Bonus point: There was a section at the end of the book about famous Russian people and it had the name of Dmitri Mendeleev, as in the Mendeleev periodic table’s Mendeleev. While his home country recognises his unparalleled contribution to science with his work in Chemistry, there is one other thing he is praised for. He was the one who created the modern type of Russian vodka with 40% alcohol! I just found this fact interesting, so I wanted to share it. Well, now I am done. Bye bye for real, now.