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Moscow–Memories

File:Moscow - The Kremlin 01.jpg

When RT took a school trip to Russia in early 1975, he was a mere stripling at 14½. But the trip made an indelible mark on him. It was the depths of winter, and detente was still a decade or more off, and what RT remembers are the people–including those not necessarily alive. Take for instance, the royal crowns of Russia, on display at the Kremlin. Of the many crowns, gold and trimmed with ermine, as RT recalls, one stood out: the stainless steel crown of Peter the Great. The crown and the king who commissioned it seem to RT to exemplify one aspect of this amazing nation. The other experience that spoke to RT about the Russian people was meeting a 14-year-old female student at a supervised event in a school. Dressed in a plain pinafore, her long blond hair braided behind her, she was going to be–as RT was only too aware–stunning. But conversation proved another matter. She had been studying English, and RT opened with that old standard: “What does your father do?” The question elicited a blank stare, and RT realized he had been using idiom. So he tried again: “What is your father’s job?” Another stare. Finally–remembering the French influence on Russian culture–RT offered, “What is your father’s employment?” and communication was established.

Among other things, the experience taught RT how multi-layered English can be, with informal, formal, and ridiculously formal speech all possible. The other lesson RT took away, at a more unconscious level, concerned the fairy-tale quality of Russia: at once beautiful, proud, and indomitable.

RT’s Related Posts: 1) The Russian Alphabet (Part 2)–A Brief History; 2) The Grand Staircase, Paris Opera.

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Photo: Moscow, the Kremlin. Author: Anubis8. Wikicmns; Public Domain.

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