… and those Americans too! I love you guys, being from a tiny nation myself, i am forever fascinated with dynamics of big nations – Russians, Americans, Chinese… to the extent that i learned your respective languages and made an effort to travel and even live in your ‘part of the woods’. (I do know that many of you are equally fascinated with us – opposites attract, what else can i say? ;))
Anyhow, in my unsystematic and off-the-record research of foreign cultures, motivated mainly by quite childlike curiosity about the big world out there – one of the most fascinating phenomena to me is the bilateral relations between the big guys… Let alone state politics – that’s a world unto itself, and quite a predictable and boring one, i am speaking of how your “average Joe” relates to his Russian counterpart and his better half (and the other way around.)
Inter-marrying is blooming and it’s always one of the best indicators, there is huge Russian diaspora in the US and there are numerous Americans living and working in mother Russia.
That being said, i am reading Akunin’s “conspiracy mystery” – The Winter Queen and i am enjoying it thoroughly. After having suffered for years from poor translations of great writers into my native tongue, i am finally having an amazing first-hand experience. Akunin’s Russian is rich and flowing, it feels like warm gloves and a cup of grog in the cold of contemporary global scribomania.
According to The New York Times review, Andrew Bromfield did good work with the English translation, so if you are looking for an awesome and truly Russian read – i wholeheartedly recommend it.
So, earlier today in the laundromat, as i was waiting for the washing machine to finish it’s heavy duty work and skimming through the book’s pages meanwhile – at pages 27-28 i burst out laughing!
Someone Ksaveriy Feofilaktovich (the name sounds funny in Russian too) says: “I read somewhere it’s called American Roulette. They came up with it in America, during the golden fever. You put one bullet into the barrel, you roll it and boom! If you are lucky – you win the pot, if not – bye bye, off you go.”
Akunin uses Russian poker slang expression сорвать банк – it’s when one player wins all the money, but given that i don’t play poker i have no idea what’s the exact English equivalent, i guess ‘win the pot’ will do
Right, he’s referring to the infamous game of chance which the rest of the world calls Russian Roulette! That’s from a novel too mind you; in 1937, Georges Surdez had written a story of the same name for Collier’s magazine:
- ‘Did you ever hear of Russian Roulette?’ … With the Russian army in Romania, around 1917, some officer would suddenly pull out his revolver, put a single cartridge in the cylinder, spin the cylinder, snap it back in place, put it to his head and pull the trigger.
- Except that the linguist in me loves learning where some widespread phrases originated, what did amaze me is that two great nations ascribe to each other this potentially fatal “game”.
- Most interestingly, the predecessor of the roller coaster – so called Russian Mountains, in mother Russia are called… American Mountains, of course.
- Funny, isn’t it?
- Other than that, March 8th is big in Russia, it’s a public holiday and everyone takes it very seriously, almost as seriously as the New Year!
- I’ve written on Communist Calendar before and on this day a year ago i wrote the essay Keep the bloody carnations for yourself, on my own aversion to the “International Women’s Day”… But it’s different in Russia, it does feel like a holiday, everyone is excited, planning outings and looking forward to the (obligatory) gifts they’ll be presented.
- I gave in to the peer pressure, going to the Gorky Park where all kinds of most amazing events will be held – free of charge for the ladies, mind you – and i must admit i am quite excited about it!
- Here is my own early 8th of March gift, a “Brazilian monster” and couple of shots from nearby Starbucks with my gorgeous younger colleagues from Pushkin Uni – Sasha and Zhenya.