Friday, December 18, 2009

Your Russian Word of the Day

It's REMONT (Ремонт in Cyrillic).

A word that strikes fear in the hearts of all who hear it.

It means renovation or repairs.

As in "the apartment has a full European remont" (ours doesn't). Or "they are remonting our building." Or when one of the escalators on the Metro is closed, they usually block it with a barricade that says Ремонт.

Everyone hates living through a remont because it is so chaotic and messy and noisy and, well, just dreadful. I have heard that some people actually move out of their apartments temporarily while having them remonted. That way the workers can just sleep there and work around the clock (which is illegal, but since when has fear of doing something illegal ever stopped anyone in Moscow?).

When we moved into this apartment two years ago, we were told that we could store some items on the stairs to the attic. It is a secure space with a gate and a lock. We have a (forbidden) key, and so do the neighbors (who stored a LOT of things there).

Quite some time ago, prior to last Christmas perhaps, someone from the building maintenance crew came to us and said we had to clear everything out of there because they were going to remont the stairwell (or podyez in Russian). So our boxes of Christmas ornaments moved into our bedroom. The cats sleep on them.

But nothing happened for ages.

Until about the time The Spouse was in the hospital (about two weeks ago now).

A team came in and began actually repainting the stairwell. It was dreadful quality work. With the same dreary colors as before. No sanding and only minimal priming. Thick paint just slopped on top of existing thick paint. And the paint fumes! Made my head ache and my eyes water.

To add insult to injury, before the work could be finished, someone (surely the workers) stole all my umbrellas. Then they dropped their tools and vanished.

Seriously, I have kept all my umbrellas in a big brass pot outside our apartment door for two years, and no one has ever touched them. Until about ten days ago when they took every single umbrella (including crap kid umbrellas). But not the brass pot.

A few days ago, a nice man and woman, apparently fellow building residents, came by with a document they wanted me, as a Representative of the Apartment, to sign regarding a remont of the building exterior. She wanted me to sign immediately, but I begged off explaining that I am not the owner . . . let me have my husband read it . . . maybe I'll scan it and email it to the landlords  . . .

When I mentioned the proposal to remont the building exterior to The Spouse, he said, "Given how well the podyez remont is going, I can't imagine what the exterior remont job is going to look like!"

Then we all forgot about it.

I mean, I still step over abandoned paint buckets by the elevator on the ground floor. And there remains badly wiped up spilled paint on our landing. But like anything you see daily, we soon became immune to the mess. And, frankly, I have always thought we win the award for "Crappiest Podyez" anyhow.

Yesterday afternoon, arriving home with the girls, I noticed the following taped to the wall of the elevator. I saw the words Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost . . . the Russian Santa) and assumed it was some sort of kid holiday party.

When The Spouse got home much later, he insisted I go take a picture of the notice because, "It's hilarious, and I want to read it carefully later." (Click on the image if you want to see a bigger version of it.)

This he did, and he sent me a translation a few moments ago. The notice says

Dear residents of Entrance No. XX
of XXXXXXXXX St., Building no.XX
Like all of you, I am looking forward to the New Year 2010 and am preparing for it.  I planned to visit all of you and wish you well.
But!!!  Your Entrance 
Is in a Disgraceful and Dreadful State
I do not believe that I will be happy about my visit.  Moreover, you will be embarrassed that you were unable to get the management company to fulfill its contractual obligations regarding maintenance of the entrance way and stairwells.  As you all know, they haven’t done anything for a month, and this is not sufficient.  Moreover, they have abandoned the repairs of your entrance way and left it cluttered with debris.  I dare surmise that it will be this way until long after the time for my visit.
I think your guests and relatives will be unpleasantly surprised by your indifference to, and disdain of, basic cleanliness.
If you, as I, are upset by this blatant situation and lack of respect to you on the part of the management and the local administration,
please note the following telephone numbers and I suggest
Very truly yours,
Grandfather Frost
For a city with a budget of 40 billion dollars, this is a bit strange….
So that explains the list of phone numbers and addresses that was posted next to this. It wasn't Rent-A-Santa at all!

Isn't that a hoot?


hka said...

that is hilarious!! I love it!!!

Ashira said...

Ded Moroz is now officially so much cooler than Santa Claus!

TRex said...

We are in full remont mode and it makes me want to get into full on downers. Full. On.

valentina said...

Well considering that here he makes his entrance via soot filled chimneys, I am really surprised at his complaint... Now room temp milk and stale store bought cookies I could understand... xov

Anonymous said...

Pretty revolutionary Ded Moroz!
I hope your trip home will be uneventful, they do threaten us here with a major snow storm this weekend.

- English man in Moscow - said...

REMONT as you say puts fear into the hearts of all of us expats. We have had it going on below us for the last 4 months with no end in sight.

Drilling under us in a stop start fashion in different areas in different rooms all day every day. I really does drive you crazy and there is nothing you can do about it. Remont is a way of life here.

Anonymous said...

Let me make some remark about THE Notice. You translated "Смею предположить - уже до Старого Нового года минимум" as "I dare surmise that it will be this way until long after the time for my visit".It's not correct i dare say.
We here in Russia do celebrate (though it's not official)on January 13 Старый Новый год. Sounds funny but this is true OLD NEW Year. The matter is that Russia changed the chronology when the Soviets came to power in 1918. We replaced the Julian calendar with the Georgian one,i.e. before 1918 people in Russia celebrated New Year on Jan.1 (it was the Jan.13 in Europe)))
P.S. It's really surprising to see how many people interesting in Russian. Спасибо вам большое!!!!
Sincerely. Олег Муравьев,Россия,Московская область

The Expatresse said...

Dear Oleg,

Thank you so much for the calendar detail.

P.S. My husband did the translating. He has studied Russian since 1982. Languages are his passion.

Ginger said...

I think the Spouse did a fine translation. The letter was a humorous one and the translation had to fit the style. The note said the repairs would continue past "second Christmas." I am sure he knew perfectly well that "second Christmas" is the Orthodox Christmas in January, but "second Christmas" or even "Orthodos Christmas" would be lost on many an English speaker; they simply don't know what or when it is. Thus, second Christmas is "well after the visit" if you assume the visit is on the 25th or the 30th of December. Sometimes it is just not appropriate to add lengthy transator footnotes. But I am sure the note was fully understood and the translation was appropriate to get across the point that original text was trying to make.

Олег said...

Dear Expatresse!!
Let me show my respect to your husband for i'm sure he's a really brave and wise person because:
1.he has passion - languages (especially Russian - one of the hardest)
2.he has his love -You
3.he's a man of the Law.
P.S. please don't take offense about my remark.
and Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!
respectfully, Oleg

The Expatresse said...

Oleg: No offense taken! :-)