There are just a few words that we never will learn in the conventional foreign language class, yet they are the most basic, essential things that we often overlook. For example, clothes hangers. If you know the word “clothes hanger” off the top of your head in any language, I imagine that you must be pretty fluent in the language or had some memorable experience that will never permit you to forget it. I also assume we never learn this word in my past language classes, because it’s something that is readily available in hotels and many homes. It’s a word you learn from experience, which helps me understand why I’m here in Russia, rather than just sitting in a classroom again…but then, I digressed.
Back to the point, Pear and I looked for clothes hangers in one of the shopping centers (“togorvi centre”) near School 41 before we had to head to music practice. It was a good learning experience in communication. The Thai-Russian dictionary failed to provide the word, so we gestured, then we whipped out Pear’s drawing for a store assistant. (A note to that, she didn’t know the word in English either, so she drew a clothes hanger to illustrate her point earlier at school.) Indeed, a picture might be a thousand words. By my description, it might sound like we had to put in a lot of effort to purchase clothes hangers, but it was actually enjoyable. It would have been a lot quicker to take out the picture, but we wanted to try out best speaking Russian first.
So, I guess the phrases “for clothing”, “triangle”, and verbs of necessity weren’t good enough to demonstrate our need for clothes hangers, but one day we will have the words. Shopping is always fun. One distinction about Russia is the abundance of shopping centers, they are literally at every corner: supermarkets, pharmacies (“apteka”), news stations and more. Instead of walls that divide the shops like American malls, the division is just the booth register. It’s different and cool. I can purchase a pastry for 7 rubles, then take a step to buy school stockings for 59 rubles. It’s very convenient.