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Out and about with a mute

Next on the list – learning sign language.

Natasha is definitely feeling better overall, but her regular malady befell her. She lost her voice, and even whispering hurts her vocal cords. She communicates primarily by gestures instead, which are not always easy to decipher. Conversations inevitably turn into drawn-out charades, and we collectively get to the meaning, and even manage to laugh about it. Sign language would come handy at a time like this, especially since it happens a few times a year and lasts for several days every time.

We were out and about on Saturday, and must have been fascinating to look at every time Natasha tried to explain something to us or simply point something out. Her favorite trick is to loudly clap her hands, forcing everyone to look at her, and start gesticulating when she has our attention. Clapping in a public place – that draws some attention, for sure…

Anyway, ever since our first trip to the British Museum, Kimmy was asking when we can go back to a museum where they have backpacks. Her interest was further sharpened by several Brussels museums that we visited, which she labelled not real museums and which did not offer any activities of the types she like. Since Becky missed our first excursion to this museum, we figured we’d make a return there.

Saturday weather was crisp and pleasant, so we enjoyed a bit of time outside. Since this was still half-term break in school, the inside of the museum was teeming with schoolchildren, in addition to tourists. We picked an ancient greek activity backpack, and proceeded for close to two hours with whatever the instructions directed us to do, from learning architectural components of a temple to matching modern sports with their ancient precursors.

One of the activities consisted of learning to play knucklebones, with four of those readily supplied. The rules of the game are eerily close to how we used to play Stones (Камешки ) in my childhood, and I still possess enough skill in that to thoroughly impress my offspring. That was possibly quite the highlight of the trip.

At some point, the crowds started to annoy us – ok, me, primarily, – and we made a leisurely trip home.

That same night, we had another event planned. Well, planned is not exactly how it should be described, as Natasha stuck a printed ad in front of me in the morning and contorted her face into quizzical expression, which I interpreted as Do you want to go? The ad was for a ballet performance of the Nutcracker by the Moscow City Ballet troupe, held on Saturday night not in the city, but rather at a theater in Bromley. I responded with Why not, called the ticket office, learned that there were still some tickets available, and we were on.

Bromley town center is easily reachable from where we live by a direct bus route, #126, the same one that I take weekly when not going to the Canary Wharf offices. We decided not to bother with driving and parking, especially since we already had daily travelcards covering zone 4, within which both Mottingham and Bromley lie. This particular bus route does not run very often, which is a bit of inconvenience, but it never gets too crowded either. Kimmy and Becky got choice seats in front and held a sophisticated discourse about something, while Natasha was doing her best to gesticulate up a conversation with me.

The theater was neither big nor small, but agreeable, right in the middle of Bromley’s pedestrian area. We came a bit early (Natasha even put some strain on her cords to whisper a quip about me always planning for too much reserve time and coming in 45 minutes earlier than necessary), so we explored around a bit.

The performance was excellent. To tell the truth, I understand ballet on par with understanding sign language, and while all the movements, jumps and pirouettes looked good to me, I cannot attest to the quality of the dancers’ skill. But I do appreciate great music, and the show appeared well choreographed. We were all impressed.

Natasha submitted that she liked ballet better than the opera, and Kimmy summed up the day as It was so great! First, museum with backpacks, then ballet…


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