"Michael, we're talking about going to the pub together with you on Wednesday night," said my first class of the day. "Will we go for a drink on Thursday?" asked the next one, "When are you free?" the one after that, "Thursday, Friday or Saturday?" I tried to remember what I'd already arranged, seeing my evenings (and hopes of not having to come up with a final lesson plan) disappear. "Wednesday, yes", "We'll decide on Thursday," "Saturday after the football." "You're going to the football?" one asked. "Let's drink on the beach before the game."
Knowing that I was only staying here for five months, I never managed to do much in Russian beyond reading the alphabet, ordering a beer and asking for the bill. That's more than you need at Pyzata Hata, a chain of cheap, point-and-order restaurants that specialises in meat, potatoes and yet more meat. "Mozne eta?" works for one dish, "Y eta" for another. A quick spasiba (with the stress on the 'e'), a smile and a peek at the till usually suffices for the rest.