Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas the Second

Today is Orthodox Christmas (celebrated 13 days after Christmas because of when Russia was on the Julian calendar) and I was invited to dinner at Natasha's mother's flat. Natasha had hinted beforehand that her mother had designs to set me up with Natasha's 26 year old brother, Viktor, who according to Natasha is a recluse and spends all his time at the university or on his computer. Hmm. With that glowing description I set off with Colleen and Stuart for dinner...

Upon walking into Natasha's mum's flat, I immediately got the impression that for some reason, I was the celebrity of the night. "Ahhh, it's KATYUSHA!!!" Her mother and her cousin, Svetlana, gushed right away. A flurry of cheek kisses and hair stroking ensued, and before I knew it, I was sitting on a couch getting plied with blini and more of the dreaded salo (uncooked pig fat). Did I mention this was the first time I had met any of them?

Throughout all of this, Viktor was looking at me intensely. How can I describe him? Well, the first thought that sprung to mind was, He looks like a fourteen year old Leon Trotsky.

Take away the moustache and about half a foot of height and fifty pounds. I could have picked this guy up, he was tiny! I don't mean to sound like one of those horrible, gossipy shallow girls who write off guys faster than cheques to Daddy's account, but, well, he wasn't exactly my type. Which is a cross between Indiana Jones and Rhett Butler if you're wondering. :)

Anyways, while it was very, very nice of Natasha's family to welcome us into their home and prepare such a feast for us, I found the whole evening really stressful. Everything was conducted in Russian, and Colleen and Stu were basically ignored while questions were thrown at me almost without stop. They wanted to know all about my family, about Canada, about my hobbies, my favourite music and books, why I came to Russia, my daily schedule (down to the HOUR!!!)...I also had to go around the circle and guess how old everyone was, which was terrifying - what if I guessed too old? What if I mesed up my Russian numbers? It was just exhausting to always be so on. Katyusha, Katyusha, Katyusha...ahhhh!!

Viktor invited me to his birthday party next week, but you can trust that I will be dragging Colleen and Stu along with me. At one point in the evening, he stood up and awkwardly interjected, "You will come to my room now" - but it was not really a question. VERY taken aback. I made C&S come too, and we looked at his ever so exciting bedroom, a spartan square that had a huge map of the Russian Federation on the wall and a copy of the periodic table that he drew in the eighth form. Oh, but I can't forget his collection of cassette tapes. And his math and physics books. Yeah. This guy is right up my alley. Clearly.

One cool event of the night was when Natasha brought out her mum's old photo albums and we got to look through a bunch of old black-and-white photos from the 1960s and 1970s. Their family is from Siberia, and it was so interesting to see Natasha as a little girl in the 70s, wearing a huge bow in her hair, dressed in her Communist Pioneer (a youth group that every child had to join) uniform! Even Viktor as a kid was pretty cute, I'll give him that! And Natasha's mum was stunning - she looked like a Tolstoyan heroine!

There was soooo much food - blinis, "herring in a fur coat" (herring salad with beet root on top of the herring, hence the "fur coat"...oh, and mayo, mayo, mayo), the aforementioned and dreaded salo, tons of fruit, tons of pickles (Snooki would be right at home...oh wow, did I just make a Jersey Shore reference?), bread, crab salad, kasha, and this delicious homemade salsa. And of course alcohol...but does that even need to be mentioned?

Well, once again it is almost 1am here and I'm sooo tired...Scathing update on my love life (or serious lack thereof...thank goodness) accomplished, so off to bed!


  1. Viktor and the Inquisition aside, you are so fortunate Katie to have these authentic Russian experiences. And it helps that you always make the most of your opportunities and "get the most bang for your buck"! We are so happy for you. But make sure you take S&C with you to the B-day party!

  2. ^And some pepper spray, and forget to shower for a week.

    salo = disgusting. Have you the 'un'fortune to try holodetz? Its like cold, and with this like jello stuff on top and meat on the bottom. Its ew.

    Btw you seem to be turning into a rough n' tumble wonder woman, tossing guys around, carrying water jugs, seems pretty intense.