Fatal in this part of the world, which is the reason that all the windows are painted shut. Air moving freely from one part of an enclosed space to another is simply not tolerated. Which explains the dirty looks you get when you open the air vents on the TU-154 that has been sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes. Not to be confused with the other dirty looks you got when you checked in. I enjoyed last summer’s heat wave immensely if only for the refreshing opportunity to say, “I told you so!” to all the Russians who complained to me that they would sell their salo for a fan.
not to be confused with “head scarf,” babushka is a generic term for grandmother, but its dimunative “babuliya” can be used in a semi-condescending way to refer to a female person of age, who, more often than not is charging way too much for cucumbers or wants your seat on the metro. Babushkas are omnipotent and omniscient, as was (needlessly) brought home to me at a recent social event when I was trapped between two of them. They held forth all afternoon across me on the minor points of Orthodox saints in a one-upmanship that would have made veterans of the Curia weep.
Birthday (день рождения):
absolutely sacrosanct in Russia, necessitating a lengthy phone call or personal visit to the person in question, a flashy gift, an enormous stiff bouquet of flowers, and a lengthy, unwieldy, largely insincere toast. Though occasionally, you can get a really nice present. Because Russia is a hierarchical society (what…you thought the Communism thing made a dent?) the more important the person, the more flashy the gift, the more exotic the blooms, and you might just have to get Deep Purple to pen the tribute. Interestingly, Thank You notes are never considered necessary.
Business Trip (командировка):
not to be confused with the ubiquitous “Business Lanch,” the Business Trip is an important rite of passage for any budding bureaucrat (see below). In a stubborn refusal to ignore recent innovations such as the plastic credit/debit card, Russian companies issue you Business Trip Expenses (Командировочные расходы) after a cumbersome execution of a document known as An Advance Accounting Report, in which all of your “kommanderovichniye” are calculated to the last kopek and bear no relation to Real World Expenses. You know you have advanced from the mailroom when you stop picking up these slim envelopes from Olga in the Accounting Department. Anything for a quiet life.
An extremely well-compensated senior manager of Russian state assets. A profession closed to almost all readers of “Dividing My Time.”
Blat (блат…and don’t get sloppy with the vowels in this word!):
The venerable Oxford English/Russian dictionary defines this as 1.) crime, 2.( pull, protection, influence. Often used in the dative case with the preposition “Po” as in “Po blatu” or “Through connections. Blat is the real hard currency of Russia.
A thing that happens to a country when it chooses to hold large sporting events instead of providing real job opportunities and a social safety net to its diminishing population. They go get dental hygenist jobs in the UAE. Many Russia watchers consider this phenomenon to be at work today in Russia as a “Silent Third Wave” slips out of the country.
A popular form of employment in the Russian Federation. Requirements: a faux leatherette folder, a cheesy A5 Diary from a large state organization, a grey suit, 2 grey shirts, a cheesy Turkish tie. Annoying manner of speech which over-utilizes the passive voice and third person to refer to oneself. Patience. Applications available until March 2012 by Twitter @MedvedevRussia. For more information, see “The Overcoat” by N. Gogol.
1.) n. a highly accurate socio-economic barometer in The Former Soviet Union, 2.) A storage unit, 3.) a place to smoke even though the people you work for ask you not to, 4.) something to aggressively glass in.
A wood-lined room heated to unnatural temperatures in which naked men (and, if the Lady Lawyer with the Dirty Book is to be believed, sometimes women) wear silly felt hats and beat one another with dried branches for brief periods between lengthy drinking bouts. Considered by many to be Russia’s national sport. Features in the Russian equivalent of “Go to #$%^” which is “Idi v banu!” or “Go to the Sauna!”
This post is part of the new Expat Lexicon.
Any other thoughts on “B” words, mindful, as ever, that Dividing My Time is a family-friendly blog. Hit the comment button below and see what you can come up with!