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Connections Are Everything

Published: May 17, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



Photo: Mark Fischer / Flickr

Связи: connections

Back in the old days of Soviet rule, everyone needed one thing to survive: блат. This word, so satisfying to say — try it! — meant pull, an "in," connections. Блат got you tickets to a closed screening of a Hollywood film. Блат got you a tin of powdery but potent instant coffee from India. Блат got your kid a place in a preschool. But when the planned economy fell, it took блат with it. Now if you want something, you go buy it. You don't need блат with the sales clerk.

But if блат disappeared, связи (connections) are eternal. And luckily for all of us language-hoppers, they are pretty universal, too.

Связи — note the plural — are connections, contacts, people you know, relationships. Я хочу устроиться на работу в этой фирме. Нет у тебя там связей? (I'd like to get a job in that company. Do you have any contacts there?)

Sometimes the relationship connoted by связи is one of patronage. As usual, context is everything: Он поддерживает очень хорошие связи с местной администрацией (He's been cultivating an inside track in the local administration).

Связь (singular) is some kind of connection. It might be invisible: На сцене она умела сразу установить связь с аудиторией (On stage she could immediately establish a bond with the audience). It might be a bond of friendship or professional interests between individuals, institutions or countries: Количество внутренних и внешних — межрегиональных и международных — связей нашей компании постоянно возрастает (The number of our firm's domestic and foreign — inter-regional and international — relationships is constantly growing).

Or it might be something more intimate. Связь, sometimes modified with the word любовная (amorous), is any kind of extramarital relationship. Её муж, не зная о прежней нашей связи, старается познакомить нас (Her husband, who doesn't know that we had an affair, is trying to introduce us to each other). When связь is modified by the adjective половая (sexual), we are talking about a physical relationship without much emotional attachment. And случайная связь (literally an incidental contact) is what English speakers call a one-night stand.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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