Time really does pass differently here. The days seem to whizz by so quickly, and there is hardly a moment to rest. In fact, I’ve only found the time to update this blog by skiving my Saturday (!) lessons. The shortening daylight hours and our greater sense of urgency to meet up with our friends and see Kazan means that we’re never quite sure that we’re doing ‘enough’ with our days. The opportunity to put it all down here, however, is proving to be not only a way to keep friends and family up to date, but also helps keep me grounded. Just like Ferris says…
21st November: Hospital Adventure
Our friend Karolina, another English student in class with us, had been feeling a bit poorly over the past week. Eventually, after coaxing from both us and her family back home, she went to the doctor on this afternoon. By midnight, she’d had her appendix removed. She’d managed to send us her location on Facebook, but that was all the information we had as to where she was in the hospital complex. The next day we roamed around the deserted, post-apocalyptic landscape of the hospital, going into random buildings trying to find out if our invalid was located there. When we eventually found the correct building, we then had to get a signed slip giving us permission to go and see her. We were so relieved to see she was doing OK, and since she speaks Russian at home she wasn’t too traumatised by the whole ordeal and understood what the doctors had been saying to her. Furthermore, she’s a tough cookie, and seemed keen to be up and out as soon as possible.
The rest of the week passed in a bit of a blur; we visited Karolina in hospital a few times, met up with Russian friends again and I went to the cinema with Amir to see Fantastic Beasts. We also are continuing to spend lots of times in Kazan’s cafés; and to be fair, we are quite recognisable as a bunch, loudly spouting English and generally buffooning around. Our new favourite it a Tsifferblat (where you pay for the time you spend there, and can take as many hot drinks and snacks as you like whilst you are there) located on the fifth floor of a building. It’s a great place to catch the stunning sunsets, which almost compensate for the shorter days!
By the 25th November, Karolina was allowed back home. I went to go and visit her in the evening and instead of bringing her flowers, I brought her flour – and she made a delicious apple crumble for us both! She had worked as a chef in England before, and was eager to cook some tasty food rather than the salty kasha (porridge) that had been her sustenance at the hospital.
26th November: Hanging out with Lenin
On Saturday, after lessons, Issy and I took a treacherous walk over icy streets to find the Lenin House Museum. I was quite excited about this (have a look at my ‘About’ page!); Soviet History is one of my favourite topics, and Lenin has always been a particularly intriguing figure for me. Lenin started as a student at Kazan University, however after being involved with Marxist Circles, student protests, a change of course and a quick expulsion, he moved on fairly swiftly. Nonetheless, his time in Kazan is seen as an important role in his intellectual and ideological development. The museum itself was covered in snow and completely empty apart from us. We wandered around the exhibits, had a quick peek in the room where Lenin lived and then sat down in the warm just to chat about Chekov (as Russian students do). [Apologies that all my photos are from snapchat…I was very keen to document it immediately!].
In the evening we met up with Emilia for some tea, and talked about all things Tatar and superstitious. She had just been to a palm reader, and was a bit upset since she had been told that she would have two husbands. Considering that she already has an older boyfriend, who she presumably wants to marry (as is common for young Russians; she explained that it is seen by many as strange if you are not married by 24), she was a bit worried about what this meant for her future with him. Luckily, she soon cheered up and we gossiped the evening away.
27th November: Gamer Girl
I met up with Amir on Sunday, and we went to an exhibition of early 20th Century fashion. I was quite impressed that he wanted to go; after all, Russian men don’t really seem to care much for woman’s fashion. However, it seemed more appealing than our original plan; it was definitely too cold on that day to go ice-skating! We then went to the Tsifferblat which was hosting a boardgames and card games evening. It was slightly intimidating to be plunged into an all-Russian setting with lots of people I hadn’t met before. People quickly explained to me the rules of a game, but realising that I would severely slow the pace of the game I decided to simply watch. It was a cute evening, and a homely way to round off quite an unusual week.