Thursday, January 24, 2008

Novosibirsk - Day 2

Today was a great day. I stayed up all night and posted my first two blogs and did a few work things. Around 5am I got a call from Jennifer over Skype, so we all talked for about an hour or more and the girls had a blast being on a web cam. I was able to show them my flat and they were all very impressed.

I caught up on emails until Scott got here around 9:30 am and then he and I went for a 2 mile run around the "Scientist Area". Wow! What a beautiful run. It was FREEZING cold. Both Scott and I's face was covered in ice from the sweat. It felt pretty weird to have a frozen /white mustache. My snot froze as soon as it exited the nostrils. :) Yes... gross, but true. The place where we ran was beautiful. I'll have to take pictures next time!! We ran on about 1 foot of packed snow the entire duration. Honestly snow is everywhere here. Even when walking on the sidewalks, it is just packed snow. Therefore the snow really acts as the side walk. I found that in order to get where you are going, you just follow the carved snow. :)

(NOTE: click 'View this map in MapMyRun' to see the hi-def 'satellite' view)

When we got done running, we met up with Semyon at the local breakfast house (called the Gorodok), and I had some kind of a fufu-latte and an omelet. I am surprised at how well Semyon speaks English. He (of course) things his English is horrible, but Scott and I both assured him, he speaks very good English. We had a great time and it was cool talking with Semyon, because I've known him over email for over a year now and now I can put a face and a personality with his name. :) This is turning out to be a well needed trip to Novosibirsk. I've been asked numerous times why I haven't come sooner... My answer has been: "I just haven't."

From the Gorodok, we went to the office via a minivan that is tricked out with bus seats. This thing is called a "marshrutka", and it is very popular over here; more so than our taxi's and bus's in America. It's amazing how this minivan works. The people get on this minivan and, since the driver is so busy, they use a "trust system" to pay. The people hand their rubles to the person closest to the driver and this person manages the money and gives the correct amount of change back to the other people. It is a total "volunteer" job that is assumed by the person sitting closest to the driver. Needless-to-say, we sat in the back of the bus. :)

By the time we got to work it was almost 12pm. I wanted to get a lot of work done and did for the most part, but then Maxim, Ivan, and Semyon took me to eat a fancy Russian restaurant. I had some Russian soup (aka: soap :)) and a crepe-like burrito. This sucks, I forget the name of both of these items of food (note to self). We had a good time and I was able to give them a little bit of history about Data Dynamics and let them ask me questions. We laughed and it was great to get to know them.

Later in the day (at the office), one of my co-workers took me to get a Ushanka. Her name was Anna and she was hilarious!! We had a great time! We had a very bad communication problem because she spoke very little English, and I spoke zero Russian. We did a lot of talking with 1 word and lots of hand gestures. I did learn one word while we were on our little "adventure"; this word is "popo-gree-eh-shka" which means "hot ass". She had a heated seat and I made her laugh when I realized that my butt was getting hot. :) She is a very fun person and I look forward to going back into town with her again today. Unfortunately my Hardbarger head is too big, for they didn't make Ushanka's in my size. :) I told her that my family is known for having "big heads". :)

We got back to the office and I worked with my guys for a while and we did some "white boarding" for a while, then I came home around 7pm and CRASHED!!! (aka: fell asleep). It is for this reason, that the daily blog post was delayed a few hours; it is now Day 3 and I'm getting ready to start my day.

Before I go though, let me teach you a bit of Russian. I found that once you know how these characters sound, you can go VERY far. It's surprising to me now, how many of the Russian words are similar (or the same) as their English meaning. You would never know this to look at the word in writing though if you can't make out their sounds. Here are some of the letters and their pronunciation that I've learned in the last 2 - 3 days (again, these are the ones I know and there are many more):
  • Б = b (like "booger")
  • В = v (like "vase")
  • Г = g (like "gorodok")
  • Д = d (like "dog")
  • Ж = g (like "genre") / s (like "pleasure") / zh (like..."zhust kidding")
  • З = z (like "zoo")
  • Л = l (like "like")
  • Н = n (like "no")
  • П = p (like "pepsi")
  • Р = r (rolling r)
  • С = s (like "stop")
  • Ф = f (like "fox")
  • Х = ch (like "bach")
  • Ч = ch (like "chip")
  • Ц = ts (like "sits")
  • Ы = i (like "still")
  • Э = e (like "met")
  • Ю = u (like "use")
  • Я = ya (like "yard")
What I found surprising is that once you learn these letters, Russian isn't really that intimidating. I was watching the news yesterday morning (day 2) and heard them mention "Columbus Blue Jackets", I quickly looked up and... low and behold I saw "Columbus" spelled in Cyrillic characters (Колумбус) on TV. Suprisingly, many words sound the same! Another example is seen everyday here; all of the "Stop" signs actually say "Stop", in Cyrillic characters (стоп). Pretty cool huh?

Ok, tune in later tonight and I'll have another post! I'll try to remember all of the words that I forgot today and maybe find some new ones. :)


Olga said...

How funny:) Wandered here from Kim's blog, I am Russian, and had worked in Siberia for a couple of summers during my med school years (long time ago). Building roads. So no, not in a winter it's freakin' cold! I got so mellow here, in US< complain at anything below zero:)

Luc said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are right, it is freaking cold. The average temp was about -15C and I was actually beginning to get used to it before I left. :) I loved Siberian winter and would do it again in a heart beat!

Thanks again for the comment!