Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old Country

I've been calling Russia first thing in the morning the last couple of days for work. Hearing the funny ringing tone again took me right back to days of frustration-filled reporting. Sometimes the phones didn't work at the office. Sometimes people you wanted to talk to went on vacation for three months. Sometimes the heat didn't work and you had to sit at the computer in your coat and type with gloves on your hands.

I was happy to note, however, that when I let the phone ring for two or three minutes and someone finally answered, I was able to fall right back into the aggressive phone manners necessary for getting information in Russia.

Here I am talking to whoever picked up the phone at a hockey team:

"Allo."

"Hello. Please tell me, what number have I reached?" (Always a good thing to check, because sometimes you don't end up where you were dialing. And it's fun to say: KuDA ya poPALa? which means "Where have I fallen?" Which is exactly what I want to say when I'm using the phone system in Russia.)

"Where have you fallen? Where do you want to fall?"

"Is this [team name]?"

"Well...yes."

"I would like to speak with the director."

From then on it got less interesting, because she was very helpful.

Later I called the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. And let the phone ring for three minutes, because this governing body didn't have an answering machine! ARGH! But then a young man answered.

"Allo."

"Hello. Good day. Tell me, please, is this the hockey federation?"

"Welllll........................................................................................................................................................................................
..................................................................................................................................................................................................
..................................................................................................................................................................................................
...................................................................................................................................................................................................
..................................................................................................................................................................................................
............................................................................................................................................
...............pretty much."

Ha! "Pretty much!" I wondered who answered, because then I looked at the clock and realized it was after hours in Russia, and so it was probably a janitor or some intern who answered the phone in such a fashion.

But my favorite phone call is when I got directed to a Canadian journalist at his apartment, who, one of his co-workers assured me, would be more than happy to talk to me "if he hasn't started drinking yet," and I called him and we talked hockey for 20 minutes and I found out he knew a good friend of mine from way back. It was just like the old days.

4 comments:

  1. After 15 years of thinking "Kuda ya popala" meant "Where have I fallen," I just figured out that the verb is actually "gotten" instead of "fallen." So it's not nearly as interesting or funny.

    I really should have figured that out before now, because I taught myself phrase "I fainted," which uses the "fall" verb, after I did so at a rock concert in Russia. (Sharikov, post a Bogdan link here.)

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  2. Sharikov9:46 PM

    Krups - good thing Mrs. Sharikova spotted the invitation, or I'd have missed it - here you go:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6vZxC916xo

    And from the wife, a rarely seen video of Krasnodar dormitory life (I believe that's Krups, in that one shot, briefly):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpJ44NV6m-E

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  3. Anonymous8:55 PM

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