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The benefits of learning the lingo
Monday, September 24, 2007
As I've mentioned in the past we tried to learn at least a little Russian and I must say it did come in handy. At a minimum I highly recommend learning at least the Cyrillic alphabet. Stef made sure we both learned it and that was truly invaluable. A lot of words are phonetically the same (English restaurant sounds sort of like res-ta-rahn in Russian).

Anyway, both the alphabet and some Russian phrases we learned came in handy right away. That very first day we had a lot of time before we got to see our little one (remember we had arrived in Novosibirsk at 5:30am) so once we got settled in the hotel we decided to take a little walk around the city. Our hotel was centrally located and there was a bunch of little shops and restaurants around that we wanted to take a look at. Not to mention that we had to go to the other hotel (which was literally right down the street from ours) to get internet access. So we decided to venture out.

Also, or as Stef would emphatically say of course the most important thing we needed to do that morning was go and buy her a hair dryer. Our plan was not to bring one since there's a 50-50 chance the hotel has them and buying them is suppose to be better since the American ones require the voltage converter (not just the plug adapter) and often will blow out the converter.

So we head over to a block of stores that someone had kindly posted about in the Novosibirsk yahoo group. But unfortunately the whole row of shops were being remodeled or something and they were all closed. So we decide to just wing it and walk around town popping into the shops we came across to see if they might have one. There were a bunch of supermarkets on that map and pharmacies so we thought the odds were good to find a store that at least had like some Russian brand hair dryer. Maybe something that was made in Breshnev's time. Well unfortunately each place we stopped at came up goose eggs. But we found practically anything and everything that we could possibly need.

Well in one of the pharmacies I convince Stef that I should just ask the girl working behind the counter in my broken Russian and see if I can get the message across that we're looking for a hair dryer (which by the way is not in the phrase book we brought with us and now we know to not just bring a phrase book but also a Russian/English dictionary). Anyway, so I say (in Russian) "Excuse me please, I speak a little Russian but not very well. Can you help me find...?" and then proceed through clever hand gestures and making the sound of a hair dryer (while pointing to Stef's hair) get across our need.

The girl is quite impressed with my antics (not to mention getting a good laugh in) and she gets what we're looking for and then gives us directions to a store called "Mir" (yes, like the Russian space station) which also just happens to be right next to our hotel. It turns out to be some huge appliance store with washers and dryers, vacuums, refrigerators, as well as smaller appliances like electric shavers, tanning lights (that one gave us a laugh) and, naturally, hair dryers. But not just a model or two of some Russian brand. No, we're talking about maybe 30 different models with every brand you've heard of (and about 15 curling irons to boot).

Which of course meant that Stef bought both a hair dryer and a curling iron which we now are at least going to be able to bring back with us for trip #2. Her story is that it makes sense because we can use these in many countries in Europe for any future vacations we take.

Ah, yea right.
posted by Steveg @ 6:01 PM  
  • At 6:49 PM, Anonymous JennStar said…

    Ok Steve, I'm with Stef- that was a very valuable investment!!! :o) Good job on the purchase!

  • At 9:03 AM, Blogger kate said…

    SO good to be able to catch up with your story after an eternity with no internet. It sounds like you had a GREAT trip. And, thanks for the word of hope from your agency re: accreditations. Fingers crossed...

  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger Lake said…

    Sounds like your Russian came in real handy, you were so smart to learn it. I am sure your dramatization was quite a hoot. As for Stefanie, you married a very smart girl to wait to buy those things over there and OF COURSE you need the curling iron as well as the hair dryer.
    Love, Mother

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I'm Steve and this is my wife Stefanie. This is our story, mostly seen through my eyes, of the journey to create our family by adopting a child from Russia.

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