On arrival in Moscow, the first thing I noticed was the Russian language and how it is the only (major) thing that can give me problems in this country. Not just the spoken language, but the written one.
I’ve mostly only been to countries where English or French are their official languages so it was pretty much easier because of what I perceive as some semblance among both languages. I’ve always been aware of the weird alphabets in Russian and now I’m experiencing it first hand. You can’t read anything! Not signposts, billboards or leaflets.
I’m not complaining, not at all, because it makes it fun for me as well. This development has now exposed me to being a more frequent user of Google Translate for interactions. I’ve had that ‘thing’ on my phone for long but aside using it for football articles on non-English websites, nothing more. Now is the time to utilise it.
I discovered I kept getting SMSs from my local telecommunications service provider in Russian language. I became worried that “abi dis pipu wan arrange for me ni”? By the time I started translating, I discovered that the spirit of my “village people network” has trailed me to Russia, successfully.
“You have activated the video call service. The cost of 25 rubles. in a day. Disable * 588 * 0 #. Access via https://conf.megafon.ru/79253757956-805187408 Link for inviting participants https://conf.megafon.ru/8261797“
That was the first I got via translation and I quickly rushed to go deactivate it, what did I get in return?
“Melody [MegaFon Begins With You] is ordered. Download music on the site http://muz.megafonpro.ru. Only super hits, only new items.”
I just weak! Who do I report to? It is well.
The day was going to be devoted for my trip to Volgograd, venue of Nigeria’s game with Iceland on Friday. I chose to go by train, I love train trips. I fell in love with them in Morocco and since they are practically invisible in Nigeria, I like them in moments like these.
The experience of my UK-based boss in train matters helped me a lot, quite a lot because at a point, I was at the risk of missing the train (and was already calling on the God of Babalola to intervene). Well, he did and I got to the train station just fifteen minutes before the take-off time.
Let's go to Volgograd then. I should be there on time for Eagles training and pre-match press conference tomorrow. Now on a 20-hour train ride. Language na wahala sha. #YourSportsMemo #SterlingBank pic.twitter.com/v0taZYrIch
— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) June 20, 2018
Inside the train is another new experience. Apart from the fact that, the quality of this train totally dwarfed even the best ones I saw in Morocco, there was also this language challenge especially as I was the only African in my Train Platform. We could not understand one another.
As always though, Google Translate helped in its own way but I met my most horrific situation about three hours into the 20-hour trip. I was feeling hungry so I decided to get some Bread and Groundnut I brought from Nigeria with a drink. I gesticulated for something to drink and the waitress saw that I didn’t want any of the soft drinks on display, she hurriedly nodded in a way like “Oh, I get what you wanted” and she brought that colourless stuff for me. Of course it is water and I bought something that looked like Fanta in addition to it for 125 robles (about 700 nairas).
After finishing the meal with the orange drink, I thought to wash it down with my expensive water, alas! It was Soda water!!!
I was pained…. Not because of the price but the disappointment arising from my expectation. Now I understood how Jesus must have felt when he asked for water, on the cross, and he was given vinegar. It was a gory taste. Soda wetin!!! It is finished!
I enjoyed the trip though as I had to lie down on my upper bunk for about 16 out of the 20 hours trip, everyone minding his own business. I think I also had enough rest so that I will set the ground running in Volgograd as soon as I arrive around 8am local time (6am in Nigeria).