Catholics pray, “Ave Maria, gratia plena”. Or in English, it’s “Hail Mary, full of grace.” However, I won’t write about that Maria. This Maria I’m going to write is my friend. She’s not full of grace. She’s Maria full of case (to tell you the truth, I had difficulty finding word that rhymes with grace).


“It’s sunny in Moscow and St. Petersburg but it rains in Gadukimo,” she wrote to me one day. “What’s Gadukimo?” She said, “It’s a fictional place where everything is bad.” Maria is from Yoshkar-Ola, Mari El, Russia, the city which she said as bad as Gadukimo. However, when she showed me some photos of her hometown, I thought Yoshkar-Ola is not that bad.


Maria and Masha

Maria taught me about about nicknames in Russia which I consider unique. For example, Alexei is called Lesha. I used to call Alexei, my Russian friend Alex and she said, “It’s fine. We know Western more than they know us.” Other examples are Alexander is called Sanya, Ekaterina is called Katya, and Nadezhda is called Nadya. Then how do you call Maria? Maria is called Masha.

Since she’s called Masha, I always remember her when I watch “Masha and the Bear” on TV and then I realize Maria is not so cute as that Masha. She’s sweet actually, in different way which I can’t describe.


I still have a lot of stories about Maria but I’ll write again next time when I have idea how to write it (she’s kind of difficult to be explained in writing).


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