Inevitably, things began to quieten down as I embarked upon my second full week in Syktyvkar — as novelty finally gave way to normality. I had tackled most of the basics, and filled my flat with all of the essentials necessary for a comfortable two-month stay. That said, it wasn’t exactly uneventful.
On Monday, November 5th, I finished up at the school for one o’clock, ate lunch with the other duty teachers, and headed home to download V for Vendetta. Watching it had become something of a tradition on Bonfire Night, and, while my well-worn DVD was well over a thousand miles away, I had both a will and a way.
Told that it would take around five hours for my laptop to surf its way to the iTunes store and back — no time at all when you’re used to Sky — I put the kettle on and decided to catch up on Wittertainment while I waited. I, as ever, enjoyed the movie thoroughly, and attempted to transfer it onto my iPod so that I would always have it with me…until disaster struck. Cue the Blue Screen Of Death.
I didn’t own my first computer until the final year of university, when my thesis demanded that I work from home and not from the various computer rooms dotted around campus (namely the infamous — and mercifully 24/7 — “Smelly Eddie”). Since then I had become all but dependant on the thing, moving my life online as I searched for jobs, submitted articles and edited my websites anywhere with an accessible internet connection.
Suddenly stuck without one, in the middle of Russia, with another six weeks to go before I could do anything about it, I found myself staring into the e-byss, not so much lost for words as unable to tweet them to my long-suffering followers. I spent the next few days going through the various stages of grief, stopping just shy of Acceptance as I became fixated on the blank screen; the circus elephant in my living room.
Things had been going this way for a while, or so it was clear with hindsight, as my laptop had slowed almost to a halt and become unable to function away from the mains, crashing blindly into the Skype toolbar so often that it no longer knew which way was on. I had decided to come to Russia rather than invest in a new model, and I quickly realised I was going to live to regret it.
Unable to ask Jeeves what to do, I had to rely on my own limited knowledge of technology. I unplugged it, shook it wildly and attempted to reason with it mano-a-nano. Nothing worked. Then, just before I left for work on Wednesday, the 21st Century took pity on me and the screen lit up for the first time in just over twenty-four hours. It was even more temperamental than before, but at least I could bitch about it once more to Facebook.
Back online, I was able to put questions to the director of King Of Devil’s Island, resume my Russian language lessons, and continue with this blog. Most importantly of all, I was again able to assist my students, two of whom had asked me to dinner in order to both practice their English and inquire about the possibility of one day studying abroad. With Google once again by my side, I might actually be able to help them.
Providing I survive the weekend, that is. You see, I’m going for a walk in the woods.