BABUSHKA SCOLDING

   Alp ASLAN

Translation: Ülke Evrim UYSAL

The old woman in Slavic culture Babushka, who might be translated as grandmother, is famous for her legendary scolding. This ancient tradition of scolding, which is often encountered in post-socialist countries, is still vivid today. Personally I was aware with the Babushka phenomenon during my early visits to the post-socialist world, as I got my very first scolding. Eventually I tried to find methods to prevent from these unpleasant happenings. However, I soon comprehended that it is almost impossible to save yourself from the wrath of a babushka. That scolding, one way or another, should be duly delivered without making any discrimination of religion, language or race. In fact, we used to think that we got a scolding because we were foreigners as we had limited knowledge of their language and ways of life.  However we found out in time that this babushka species is awful, psychopathic and crazy. They give a good scolding to everyone no matters who you are really…

The First Scolding

The very first scolding tasted in these counties are probably because of the attempts to buy water or beverages from kiosks. As it is the custom in your country, you take your water first from the fridge outside and then pay for it, right? No, it is not right. In these lands, you pay first and then ask for it. Then babushka presses the button inside of the kiosk and the fridge outside opens automatically. Off course if you push the cabinet door without asking her like an animal, then you get a scolding. That’s it.

Then I said to myself how far will this go? I decided to boost my immune system. Getting beaten is fine, no problem with that, but getting a scolding? No way. Am I on vacation or school trip? What is the point with getting disgraced with my own money?

In time I got used to, that but naturally I will not share these experiences here as the concept of our journal dictates. Everyone will get a scolding and will find his or her ways of getting used to it! After all I visited these countries with my friends and buddies, and even with those who backstabbed me. As I am a dirt bag, I sent my own friends to buy water or train tickets. I mean, I learned my lesson, they should learn the ways of life, right? It is just a penguin’s pushing its newborn cub to water. The drawn ones disappear, those who are able to swim survive.

One time my fellow Ufuk wanted to buy water at 9 a.m. in the remote train station of Siberia somewhere. He asked me “what does water in Russian?” “Oh, please don’t do it, are you really sure? He was determined: “yes, I am sure.” Obviously he is very thirsty. I recalled a misty image: we had much vodka last night. Then this was a natural request, but… I said “vada”. Ufuk (as he told me so) went directly to the kiosk while repeating the word “vada, vada, vada” not to forget it.

Nevertheless, after babushka’s evil look from kiosk made him forget “vada”. With stress and overexcitement, he was compelled to say “vino” (wine) instead of “vada”. When she heard it, she got even more pissed of and said something like (as much as Ufuk understood) “wine in the morning, are you alcoholic?” and then came usual scolding. He was so hopeless that he had to put his big toe on his mouth and practiced universal gesture of drinking in the last resort. The woman got even more fiercely and bullied Ufuk, he had to toddle back.

Babushka is the one who takes you to water and let you go back without it.

The Fastest Scolding in the World and Beyond

Again we were in the middle of nowhere in Siberia. We found an old style, Soviet type hotel. As it is old school, some of rooms have common toilets. Anyway, when I was urinating, my buddy was chanting with his bass-drum tone. We were already drunk enough, why did you come out of room and gave a damn break to chitchat? As he was just blazing away, one of the back doors was opened. A babushka leaning down from the door exercised her fifteen-second long scolding and then shut the door.

While zipping up, “You just had the fastest scolding in the world” I said

***

A distant museum, in the middle of nowhere again. Obviously babushkas there were not aware of the fact that Soviet Union had collapsed. They locked bookshelves, as they clearly avoid any sort of extra work. Socialism is exactly that. However, Ufuk did not give up. He said, “I want to have a look at these books”. “Please do not!” No way, he is more stubborn than I am. Using our broken Russian and a few words, we asked babushka sitting on a table near the entrance of museum. Babushka got tired of us and life (but more of us). She got up and slowly paced towards to the showcase with a handful of keys. She was as tense as Hitchcock characters… She must have been 250 years old at least. Apparently she had met all since Peter the Great till Lenin the Sixth (VI).

She opened the shelf and gave a book to Ufuk and locked it back so fast that we were unable to say anything. She went back to her place in anger. Ufuk and I exchanged looks with a book in his hand. I raised my hands, trying to say, “I cannot do anything” with my eyes. Ufuk desperately had to buy the book because we had no such a luxury to say, “I don’t like it”, which would definitely bring much scolding. We were so scared of her. What could we do? So we bought several book, off course in Russian that we do not understand.

Last Year

I took a night train from Lviv with Orhan. There used to be dining car in trains. Orhan said “no more” but to be sure, I made my way to the porter, needless to say another babushka. She was doing something in her cabinet angrily. The door was half open. I grinned and told myself “I have no hurry, can wait for some time”. I waited, snapped to attention. I was such a lickspittle with great respect and fear. Suddenly a youngish girl appeared and had a glass of hot water from the tap. Babushka immediately turned at me and had a “what the fuck” look. I asked to the girl if she spoke English, in a miserable manner. Luckily she did. I asked whether she could ask her if there was a dining car on train? She said not to my knowledge but asked anyway. Babushka was rigid and certain: “No.” And she went back to her work, whatever it was.

I used this opportunity to flirt with the girl, saying, “these old women are always angry”. Then we had a good chat, began to laugh. As we had some progress, babushka’s head appeared from her cabinet. As far as I understood, she said something like that “Why the fuck are you giggling at this hour, go sleep for fuck’s sake!” We had no choice but to go back our chambers. Separately off course!

Suckling my thumb had a deep baby sleep.

***

Minus thirteen in Odessa, freezing with Orhan, after we realized that we were having partial hypothermia (ass freeze), I decided to visit museum of fine arts. After we bought our tickets from the kiosk, walked up to the entrance and gave the tickets to the babushka there. She gave a good scolding to us for almost a minute and a half. We were looking to each other, trying to figure out “what we had done this time”. We had no idea. She let us in, after a scolding session. She was just like Hodja Nasreddin, she probably considered us as potential threat… Perhaps, I guess so, likely…

This Year, Lviv

There is a huge park near my place. While I was wondering aimlessly there, I discovered a couple of Soviet-type restaurants and entrainment halls. I decided to go there a few days ago. The restaurant, which looks Soviet-type from the outside, has an elegant interior design. I asked horilka (Ukrainian vodka) from the waiter; he was so happy that he brought me 200 grams instead of 100 grams. I had already had vodka and cognac at home; so it made me super high. I told to myself that I should check pavilions, while going out and walking on the ice with careful steps.

There was a place. It was so loud; perhaps they considered their location in a park, impossible to disturb anyone. Musicians were on the left side. I saluted them and went in. A group of boys and girls were celebrating something just on the left side of dance floor. On the right, about twenty babushkas were gathered, looked like ladies committee. Behind these two groups, there was a vacant table for four. That was my final destination. I asked horilka from the waitress, while watching them dancing. Old songs were being played, a merry place. I adore such nostalgic places.

Nevertheless a few minutes later, it seemed that one of the younglings was drunk. I sensed that he would make a mess soon. Therefore, I avoided eye contacts with them. Off course, I had no desire to be the reason of an unpleasant event. Eventually he bounced someone from his table (not to a babushka for sure) then music stopped.

He could not be restrained. Four guys were on him, they tried to pull him down, no success. Somehow, he gave up his lion mood. Then a babushka from the next table gave a great scolding to him. The guy became as timid as a mouse. Then he was carefully packed and thrown out.

The mood had gone. People had several opinions about the event… I waited for a while for a cool down. Then I approached to the musicians, gave them some cash and asked for “Ah Odessa”. The guy, with his broken English, said, “I would play, money is not needed”. I thought I gave less, and then I gave more money. In the following, I said “please sing that song for those ladies, from me” and sat down.

After a short prologue, he made an announcement: “this gentleman asked me to play for you!” All raised their glasses and made a toast for me from the neighbor table. I respectfully replied back, and then came the music.

With music, everyone raided dancing floor. No one could stand this song. Babushkas asked me to dance of course, insisting. So I went for dancing with them. Nobody can say no to the ladies.

If I said, “I closed a bar in Ukraine and dance with twenty women”, I guess this is one side of a fact.

Actually, does reality begin when alcohol is over?

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