Double Pizza Refusal
More Lesson Confusion
Still No Fridge
After my Russian lesson at 9.00 (I have difficulty saying R with the right number of rolls, I either do none at all or far too many), I had two lessons to prepare for, one at 3.30pm and the other at 6.10pm. I figured that was more than sufficient time. That was, until I found an email in my junk folder saying that the 3.30pm lesson was Upper Intermediate rather than Intermediate – completely different text book, completely different lesson.
This turned out to be a mistake, it was still Intermediate, and it only took a couple of emails to clarify this. The 6.10pm was more of a problem – it was a completely new text book for me, there were no pre-printed lesson plans, course plans or guidance, the only way to find out where the students were up to in the book was to speak to the Russian teacher who shared teaching duties with me. She was unable to see me until 2.40pm, only 3 and a half hours before the lesson, 1 and a half hours of which I would be spending teaching another lesson. But, you know, flexibility, show willingness, be a team player, all that kind of thing.
The meeting was fine, she showed me a page on the text book and basically said “teach that” which was all I needed to know. The format of lessons (a bit of grammar, a bit of vocabulary, a bit of listening and speaking, and a video at the end) is well drilled into my psyche now. I took my 3.30pm lesson, 6 extremely lively teenagers round a table, who knocked all the cobwebs out of my brain – somehow after struggling to reach the video at the end in every single lesson to date, I managed to find myself with half an hour left AFTER the video – why can’t every lesson go like that?
And then I put together a rather professional looking plan for the next lesson. The Russian teacher had explained to me that she had been teaching this group so long, they have watched all the films they normally use for clips and comprehension, but she had a film called When in Rome that might be suitable, she would leave the disc out for me just before the lesson. There was a disc waiting for me – two discs in fact, but when I checked the contents there were no movies, just short factual videos and audio clips from the textbook. I just shrugged, I probably wouldn’t have reached the video anyway.
The class went well, knowing there was no video I encouraged a bit more conversation at the start – this was the first class since the start of summer so they were all a bit rusty with their vocabulary, so I threw in a bit of revision next. It felt like a really good class with lots of contributions, lots of personalisation and some genuinely interesting exercises (about the origin of borrowed words). I was pleased with how it went, I hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did.
I had arranged to meet John for dinner after work – I am still unable to cook anything at home requiring refrigeration or refrigerated ingredients. This necessitated a 20 minute walk back to my apartment to drop off my bag and change out of my work clothes, and a 20 minute walk back to the office where I was meeting him. And then we decided to go to a bar that served pizza close to my apartment! Organisational inefficiency seems to be catching.
Alessandro had said he was too tired to come out but when the prospect of pizza was dangled before him, like a true Italian he was reeled in to join us. I said I basically wanted a Pepperoni – John said he will order the next best thing, a Diablo which was basically like a pepperoni but spicy, and with a different meat. What I wasn’t expecting (and what I should really have checked carefully with my little cheat sheet) was that it came with – ie was buried in – mushrooms. It only took one look to know I would be unable to take a bite.
With neither John nor Ale particularly hungry and my refusal at the first, we were left with a pizza nobody wanted. John’s solution was to get the restaurant to box it up “to go” (a very American solution!) and he and Ale would finish it at their leisure. Still hungry, I asked for a small Margherita – John said there was another pizza with meat on it – not spicy – that definitely doesn’t have mushrooms. The Margheritas here do have mushrooms, though you can ask them not to put any on. (This earned a derisive snort from Ale… Margheritas with mushrooms! Outrageous!).
So along came this other pizza and at first glance it looked more Margherita-esque. It had tomato, it had cheese, it had some brown meat that at first I thought was fish but turned out to be sausage, and it was covered in this white sauce that, I’m not sure what it consisted of, but a couple of mouthfuls made me want to gag. Guilty at having ordered two pizzas without touching them, I struggled on with the topping-free area around the crust before I admitted defeat, I was unable to eat this pizza. Fortunately both Ale and John suddenly found their appetite (or at least a sense of responsibility not to let food go to waste) and half the pizza at least was eaten.
The sections of crust I had eaten were filling enough, I guess, that I was no longer hungry, and my guilty conscience required that I try and pay for the whole meal, in the end both John and Ale insisted on at least a contribution. John was unnecessarily apologetic, I said it wasn’t his fault I am such a picky eater, and at least I came out, tried something new, and gave it a go. You win some, like the ginger lemonade I tried at the Arts Café, you lose some, like this pizza, but if you don’t at least try and step out of your comfort zone from time to time you will never find any exciting new tastes, sights and experiences. After all, that’s how I ended up in Volgograd in the first place.