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Keep Houston Press Free
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Russians Laugh At Weak American Hurricane Ike-ski

The Russian Cultural Center says Nyet! in the face of a ураган.

You have to give it to the Russians. They are made of sterner stuff. Either that or they don’t understand the phrases “storm surge,” “flat land below sea level” and “contraflow” (actually that last one confounds a lot of people). Facing the onslaught of Hurricane Ike, schools, businesses and universities around Houston have announced shutdown plans for the weekend right and left starting Friday.

Not the Russian Cultural Center on Bissonnet in Houston. Saturday is the first day of its new series of language classes and by God or Glasnost – at least at this point –all beginners are supposed to be there to start their adventure with the 36-letter Cyrllic alphabet (they dropped eight other letters in the 18th Century and another four in 1918).

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“Let’s just see how the weather does,” the woman who answered the phone at the center said this afternoon in a warm, soothing voice complete with authentic Russian accent. “You can call me Saturday morning and we’ll see.”

So at 10 a.m. Saturday, barring complete devastation, I’ll be there with my linguist daughter because I’d hate to say what would happen if we didn’t show. From a cursory glance at the Russian alphabet, there doesn’t seem to be a letter for a long I – so the closest I can get to Ike is what may be the more appropriate: Eek.

Margaret Downing

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