My hozaika (host lady) is a mixed bag. Some days are great, and some borderline on nightmarish with Zina Sergeevna.
She can be rather childish (we have kids' stickers (of mostly Disney characters) all over the apartment). She also cuts out pictures of puppies/kitties from magazines and glues them on the walls. Which I can't really argue with; the stickers cover the dirty 75 year old walls of our apartment nicely.
And she can be rather irritating. For a week after I got mugged, she never missed an opportunity to ask me, "И тебе не стидно?" ("And you are not ashamed of yourself?")... I am still trying to understand why I should be ashamed... But that was Zina Serveena's way of showing sympathy.
Last semester she would complain for days that I didn't go out enough... That I just sat at home. So I went out. This lead to her complaining that my coming home after 1800 interfered with her TV watching schedule.
She also is a rather envious person. She has already specifically told me what she wants me to leave her (of my possessions) when I return to the US...
I am not really surprised, as I know full-well that the woman searches my room like a hound. If I had anything that I wished to hide from her, it would be impossible.
I used to keep a liter of beer on the window sill (it's cold there) in my room. Zina would complain that she was poor and couldn't ever afford beer (and act as if she didn't even notice that I had beer). If I would offer some to her, she would act shocked and appreciatively thank me as she drank my bottle. If I didn't offer it to her, she would say that I was a lousy drunkard not willing to share with her, a poor and down-trodden grandmother.
She does the same routine if I buy a newspaper and don't share it with her the same day that I buy it.
Zina also has her passive aggressive days... After we have words, I she will typically, "accidentally" give me scolding hot tea, or an omelette with lots of shells, or she loves to give me for breakfast whatever had been for dinner the night before (imagine liver at 0745).
Zina though has had a rather hard life. She was born in 1941. Her father was killed at the front against the Germans and so she never met him. Her mother remarried and had a son. The son (Zina's brother) died when he was 10 from a blood disease. Her mother then died shortly afterwards. Her stepfather died somewhere between them. So Zina was raised by her grandmother and grandfather. First grandmother died, then grandfather. But Zina got married when she was in her early 20s, and has a daughter. Though Zina has been a widow for more than two decades.
Zina also has her good days. Her favorite subject is telling me how to better lead my life. It is something that I have grown rather used to. Zina's suggestions of how to find a Russian girlfriend are rather interesting.
Whenever one of my (guy)friends comes over to our apartment, Zina assumes that drinking will take place. She doesn't ask if we are going to drink vodka. She assumes.
And usually she assumes wrongly. Though when I tell her, "Zina, I don't wish to drink vodka."
She usually retorts with, "What?! What?! I thought that you were a man! You little boy, why don't I go get some milk for you to drink! Then you can have nap time! If you were a real man, you wouldn't say 'I don't want to drink vodka', you would say, 'I only have one bottle, I better buy some more before my friend comes over!'"
Don't think that I am being over-the-top, this is how Zina communicates.
I found that laughing as she is berating me for not being enough of a man is not usually the right response. This could be because I giggle more than laugh... but for whatever the reason, the only right response is to agree... And then to invite her to drink with us.
Overall I enjoy my time with Zina Sergeevna. She is all of 5'3", and I am terrified of her. But she has made some terrific food. Including her special "passively aggressive" cutletts...