The Expatresse: Fun with Russian moments

The Expatresse: Fun with Russian moments

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Ordering groceries for delivery turns into a ding dong event for Amanda the Expatresse when the store owner calls to change the delivery time.

Monday, I ordered some groceries for delivery.

The heavy stuff.

I use this site.

Because even though I can practically SEE my grocery store from where I'm sitting right now, it's a pain dragging heavy items home.

So I ordered the following. I love how the Russian gets translated into English.

- Detergent powder Persil Gold Plus automat 3kg Russia 2 @199.00 [that's $6 US each bag of laundry soap]
- Sour-milk drink Actimelle multifruit 1.5% 100g 6 @12.90 [$0.43/little bottle]
- Fruit drink Ya cranberry-wild strawberry nonaer. 1l pack 2 @85.90 [$2.86/1-litre carton]
- Cat`s toilet Filling Catsun Ultra crumpling 5l Germany 2 @589.00 [$19.63/5-kg bag]
- Olive oil Borges Extra verdgin 100% 0.75l Spain 1 @439.00 [$14.60/0.75 litres]
- Milk Domik v derevne (Country House) sterile 6% 0.95l tetrapack 4 @52.90 [$1.76/litre]
- Vodka Russian Standard original alc. 40% 0.5l gl.bottle Russia 1 @289.00 [$9.63/half litre]
- Utensils Gel washing Prill frut's extract 1l Russia 3 @46.90 [$1.56/litre of dish washing soap]
- Spring water Saint Spring aerated 1.5l pl.bottle 12 @19.90 [$0.66/1.5 litre bottle of bubbly water]
- Soft drink Coca-cola Light aer. 2l pl. bottle 4 @60.90 [$2/2-litre bottle]


You can specify when you want your order delivered, but you have to give them a two-hour window starting at 9:00 in the morning. I asked for Wednesday between 9:00 and 11:00, which, if they delivered at 11:00 was a bit tight as I have to be at school at 11:25 on Wednesdays, but I was willing to risk it.

Except they called me.

They always call if they don't have exactly what you ordered. For example, I never, in a million years, would order two-litre-sized bottles of Coke. They barely fit in my fridge. Also, I ordered a different brand of vodka (Yuri Dolgoruki . . . just to see what it was like), but they were out, so I went with the Tried and True.

Oh, and also, we can't deliver between 9:00 and 11:00. How about 2:00pm on Wednesday?

Nope. Doesn't work for me (that's ping-pong/fencing afternoon). I counter with "Thursday?"

Sure. Thursday it is. Thursday between 12:00 and 2:00. They even have English-speaking colleague call me back to confirm. Because, everything that has happened over the phone so far has been them speaking Russian and me saying: "Okay!" because really, it doesn't matter which laundry soap they bring me. Just bring me laundry soap.

Come Wednesday at 2:12 pm, my phone rings.

A harried-sounding, Russian-speaking man says: "This is Sedmoy Continent! We're at your house. Where are you?"

"TOMORROW!" I say.

"Blah blah, blahblahblah blah," he tells me.

Um . . . does this mean he will come back tomorrow? Or does he want to know when I will get back home?

"THIRTY . . . no, FORTY MINUTES!" I say in my very bad Russian.

On the off chance he is waiting outside my building, the girls and I hurry to the Metro. On the platform, my phone rings again.

Same dude. "Blah blah, blahblahblah blah! Your house blahblah," I hear.

"I'm in the METRO," I stammer as a train pulls out. He can figure that based on the deafening noise. "THIRTY MINUTES. I'M ON MY WAY!"

I turn to the girls who are allegedly better Russian-speakers than I am but who, invariably, don't have the vocabulary I need. "How do you say that in Russian?" I ask, with delivery dude still on the line. "I know how to say it in Slovak."

I'm pretty sure it's the same because I heard a Russian say it this past weekend and I even asked: "Did you just say We are on the road?" and she said yes.

"ON THE ROAD!" I say in Slovak/Russian and hang up because either he understood or he didn't and nothing I can add will change the situation.

We exit the Metro and I ask the girls: "How do you say It's not my fault in Russian? In Slovak, it's ne bola moya vina. My Slovak teacher told me if I was ever in a car accident, I should come charging out of my car shouting that. Is it the same in Russian?" I'm thinking I can say it's not my fault, it's not his fault…

Again, the girls are useless. How much am I paying for their international, multi-lingual education?

Phone rings again.

"FIVE MINUTES!" I say in Russian. I say the name of my street.

"Ah!" he repeats the name of my street. "Blahblah blah blah blah blah!" He sounds happy.

We reach our building.

No sign of delivery dude.

We enter our building.

No sign of delivery dude.

We exit the elevator on our floor.

No sign of delivery dude.

Is he making other deliveries in the area? Or is he going to return tomorrow as I originally expected?

I change my (sweaty) clothes. I start dealing with dinner. The girls begin their homework.

The doorbell buzzes. This is not even the front-door-to-the-building doorbell. It's my door doorbell. And there is delivery dude and delivery colleague with my delivery.

He just seems damn glad to see us, all sweat and apologies. I sign, pay, and even tip him for his trouble (much to his surprise).


Getting our hair cut
The girls and I had a similar Fun With Russian moment yesterday when we decided to attempt to schedule a haircut appointment for Skittles.

"Should we try?" I ask the girls while standing outside the Persona salon in our building.

Sure, they say.

"Do you know how to say appointment? Or haircut?" I ask. Because I don't. They don't either. But what else could I want in a hair salon? And we can say Saturday. I figure when vocabulary fails, miming and context succeed.

We enter the salon. I hold my hand over Skittles' head and say in Russian, "Her? Saturday?"

Message received. He points at the book, and we settle on a time.

Except now I have to specify who I want to cut her hair: the master, the top master, the stylist, or the top stylist. Because the price varies depending on the experience level of the person doing the work. And I can't remember which one is the cheap one. Nor do I know how to say cheap or expensive. I really am useless.

"MIDDLE!" I pull this word in Slovak/Russian out of my ass.

Middle it is.

Amanda the Expatresse / Expatica

Originally from Ohio, Amanda was bitten by the travel bug when she spent a summer as an exchange student in Australia. She followed The Spouse to Taiwan, South Florida, Buenos Aires, Bratislava (SK) and Russia before moving recently to Luxembourg.

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