I would say the excitement among the Russians in St Petersburg had been insatiable this week as the world leaders arrived on Wednesday, but that would simply be lying. The Dmitri’s and Vladimir’s that I see on the way to class every day still look as blank as ever. The only real excitement from anyone I have ever seen in this city is from a group of about 150 Chinese tourists going crazy when the Chinese motorcade came past all seemingly trying to push each other into the road in order to get a picture of a car with almost completely tinted out windows which flashed passed in a second. The ironic thing is that whilst they all seemed reasonably disappointed in being unable to secure a satisfactory photograph, had they followed me home and ventured just around the corner they would have seen the Chinese delegation get out of the cars and go into their hotel…
We’ve talked about the summit in lessons, the Russian perspective seems very straightforward. They don’t really care about Syria, they just don’t like the US – but more importantly they can’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about with Sochi and the potential boycott by gay athletes. Apparently Russia is a lovely and welcoming place. Or at least that’s what I think was said – my Russian is slightly limited after all.
On that last note about Russia being a lovely and welcoming place there are two things that strike me amusing. One is the welcome that was supposedly afforded to our delegation at the conference by Putin’s spokesman who allegedly described us as ‘a small island who nobody pays any attention to.’ Cameron’s response seemed vaguely reminiscent of Hugh Grant’s speech in Love Actually; “Let me be clear – Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.” I’m just disappointed he didn’t mention David Beckham’s right boot. Also, coincidentally the day after my birthday (27th of September – do please send all your birthday cards now as the Russian postal system is apparently abysmal and I’m quite keen to beat last year’s total of 6 (six) cards), is Zenit vs Spartak in one of the games of the season and we are hoping to get tickets. Well we were hoping to get tickets until we saw how Zenit welcomed the Spartak fans last year…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOtSsS-0VN8 (Jump to about 7:10)
Whilst it has been exciting to see all the different countries whizzing up and down Nevski Prospekt, always accompanied by a seemingly endless stream of police cars, it was even more exciting to spend a couple of evenings with Alex and Izzi, a couple of friends from Bristol who are also studying abroad in Russia, and are here for a few days in St Petersburg before flying out to spend the winter in Tomsk in Siberia – you can follow their progress here: http://alexmarrow57.blogspot.co.uk/ if you’re interested. It was great to catch up with them after the summer and also also share their ‘excitement’ about being in Russia for the winter. For those of you that don’t know, whilst St Petersburg temperatures in the winter hover around -15, Tomsk can regularly hit -30 and even -40! As a side note, for those of you who have just googled the temperature in St Petersburg and found it to be absolutely boiling, I must point out that there is a St Petersburg in Florida….
I’m going to finish with an urgent plea for anybody in the St Petersburg area who has any knowledge about where to buy a SCART lead to immediately contact me – or even if you have a spare one lying around we will pay good money for it! Robin bought his playstation over only to find that our TV doesn’t do HD (or probably even colour for that matter….) Even if it severely hampers my Russian learning, it would be superb to have FIFA in the house.
Have a great weekend!