Ponyatna

….which means ‘I understand’.

I say it a lot, especially when I don’t understand what someone is saying as it’s a good way to shoo them away before they ask me a question or something terrifying like that.

I’m now a few days into my work placement. It’s been good fun so far. I’m working on a couple of features: the first about the re-launch of the Moscow Cats Theatre (bloody bizarre) and the second about the proliferation of dodgy Google Street View images since the service was introduced to Russia a few weeks ago (for instance).

Given my interest in Russian politics it’s refreshing and exciting to work in an environment which revolves around it. It’s fascinating to see how the media (in this case RIA Novosti, the state-news agency that owns the Moscow News) choose to present stories when they break. So when two members of Pussy Riot, the anti-Putin feminist troupe, had their appeals turned down by a Moscow court yesterday, a conversation followed to the effect of ‘Ok, how big is this?’ Given that news is, in most instances, simply what defies expectations – and the expectation here was very much that the appeals would be rejected – this wasn’t judged a big story.

There is one overwhelming concern though – the panic every time the phone rings. I did A-level Russian, and despite letting it slip a bit since leaving school I’m able to scan Russian-language news and fire off emails fairly competently. However the sort of spontaneity demanded by phone calls is a skill in which I’ve had little, if any, real practice. And so the conversations that I have to have – when practicality precludes me writing an e-mail – have seen me blunder through them incompetently. It’s really quite tough, and I certainly don’t feel like I’ve got any better just yet – which is dispiriting. That said they are a few stock phrases I’ve honed to perfection

“Sorry, could you speak more slowly?”

“I’m not able to speak Russian fluently, but I can read and write fairly well – please e-mail me.”

“Repeat please.”

“Yes that’s right. I’m English…ha ha”

 

Yes, I’m getting very good at those.

 

 

 

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One thought on “Ponyatna

  1. The whole experience sounds quite frightening… Although Cat’s Theatre sounds right up my street. How do you apply again?

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