Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brighton Beach :: Little Russia by the Sea

Look to the very left of the track, down below, and you can see all of the little shops.

Just down the Q line, the alphabet turns Cyrillic and women appear on the side of the road, wearing little hats and surrounded by pastries.

Welcome to Brighton Beach.

Upon entering Brighton Beach, English soon became the exception. Women would approach me in shops and try to speak Russian to me. I walked from sign to sign, reading it outloud and working on my pronunciation.

New York.
You are swell.

In Seattle, we may have neighbourhoods of different cultures, but not to this extent. Folks could move here and never have to learn English.

While waiting in line in one shop, a women spoke Russian to me. Upon seeing I didn't understand, she said, "Back one minute." I said, "Ok." When she got back, I asked her to teach me a few phrases. She obliged and I walked down the street saying my new sentences out loud to the sky.

It was good for my ear to get used to not hearing English - just as it had been in Switzerland. I easily slipped back into the comfortable pattern of not understanding. I tried to listen for the few vocabulary words I am familiar with.

At the book shop, I bought a workbook for learning Russian to power through when on the train. I also have been working on Russian at Mango Languages. I can barely speak conversational Russian -- but I know I can pick it up when I get there.

I took my new book to the beach and read for a bit. I'm almost to the point where I can read with 46% accuracy. There are still some letters that stumble me.

When 6:15 PM came, I hopped on the train and slowly started to hear English again as more folks got on the train.

That's when I heard about the Boston Marathon. I had never received news like that on a subway. A women was talking to a man and said that two bombs had gone off at the marathon. I joined their conversation and soon found myself scowling off to the right, trying not to break down. I was just in Boston the other week. This was real. It was disgusting. I tried to process it - but how can you?

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