Perceived Reality

The Church of Spilled Blood, completely unrelated to this post but a nice picture.

I am the first to admit that my Russian isn’t top notch. I fare well in a classroom setting or when discussing one’s likes/dislikes, what they ate for breakfast and if it’s too cold out to wear my trench coat without a scar. However, whilw walking along the street or listening to Valentina talk about the state of the Russian educational system or espionage tactics during WWII, I understand about 20-30%. Sometimes during simple conversations I will misinterpret very important parts of communication like time phrases, dollar amounts or the subject of the sentence. This causes what I like to call “perceived reality” where my imagination fills in the gaps of knowledge with imaginary or assumed information. Usually this works pretty well and other times, well let’s just say that it doesn’t.

There are times though where I understand absolutely nothing that was just said. Usually in these instances I employ the smile and nod and hope the speaker will move on to a more engaging conversational partner. Earlier today, however, I attended a lecture by the famous Russian director Sergei Ninenko where I understood 0% of what was said for two hours, so I started making up little stories. At various parts of the lecture he would act out scenes from his movies and I would overlay my own plots: He’s a traveling Georgian dancer working the Viennese coffee shop circuit. The love of his life just left him because she knew that the greater part of his heart would always belong to Mother Russia. His dog just won the Westminster cup…well you get the picture.

Here, you give it a try!

Isn’t it fun?

Valentina loves the theater and since she has been making costumes for forty years she knows all of the theaters in town and when they have free events. She kindly brings me along and I usually have no idea what they will be like. Last week we went to the Palestinian Cultural Day event. In that case neither of us understood what was going on because everything was in Arabic. The singing was still beautiful however and the dancing reminded me of some of the dances our Indian American Student Association put on in college. It was lovely.

The theater today’s event was in was built by Tsar Nicholas II.As evident by the pictures below it was beautiful. Saint Petersburg is full of theaters like this and all of them are equally reminiscent of Russia’s Tsarist past.


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