#131 Chinese New Year Activities

Published on January 20, 2009

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere, E-textbook — Issue #131

=> News: Chinese Consider New Zodiac Animals
=> The Year of the Woodpecker: text
=> The Year of the Woodpecker: Creative writing activity
=> Chinese Zodiac Animal Songs on English Teachers Everywhere.com

News: Chinese Consider New Zodiac Animals

The Chinese new year is coming on January 26. 2009 is the year of the ox.

Each year belongs to a different animal of the Chinese zodiac. These are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. People born in each of these years have certain personality traits.

But diid you know that the Chinese are considering adding more animals to their zodiac? Apparently 12 is not enough to describe all the varieties of people there are in the modern world.

The woodpecker is one animal under consideration. The following passage describes the characteristics of people born under the sign of the woodpecker.

The Year of the Woodpecker – text

Key vocabulary:
are prone to + noun = have a tendency, are inclined to
are fond + noun = like to do
can’t refrain from -ing = can’t stop from -ing
garrulous = talking a lot and about trivial stuff
they have been known to + verb = they occasionally + verb
sulk = mope; be silent or withdrawn

Those born in the year of the woodpecker are diligent, hardworking, and persevering. They will knock their heads against a problem for a long time, sometimes even knocking themselves unconscious before they can solve it.

Woodpeckers are attractive and flashy; they like to dress up. They are garrulous and can’t refrain from chattering during moments that call for silence, reflection, or sympathy: for instance, in church, at a funeral, or after someone has fallen off a bicycle.

Woodpeckers are fond of dancing and shopping, and they will often dance while shopping if they hear music in a store. However, they are prone to sudden fits of grumpiness, and have been known to sulk behind trees and bushes, or at the edges of ponds.

The Year of the Woodpecker – creative writing activity

You are right. The above paragraph was nonsense. Made up. Invented. Balrderdash. Lies. The Chinese, as far as I know, are NOT going to add new animals to their astrological calendar. But that doesn’t mean that you and your students can’t.

So here’s your activity. Give your students the above text. Or play them the audio below, and use it as a model for writing.

In pairs or small groups, they should write their own text. It should be about a NEW zodiac animal—crocodile, cockroach, owl, javelina, clownfish–and how people born in this year reflect traits of that animal. (Use your imagination though–no need to be too serious).

Begin with, “Those born in the year of the ….”

Incorporate, if possible, these phrases:

are fond of
are prone to
have been known to
can’t refrain from

Afterward, why not create wall calendar with your student’s new zodiac?

Chinese Zodiac Animal Songs on English Teachers Everywhere.com

Go to www.etseverywhere.com for some young learner activities about the Chinese New Year. Click on “holidays” or “new” under the Categories menu.

Copyright 2009 Kevin McCaughey, I.M. Poosheesty, and Javvy Javelina

icon for podpress  The Year of the Woodpecker [1:18m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The Season Chant

Published on November 14, 2008

Here is a chant created by five teachers from Aqaba, Jordan, during a training session on November 12, 2008.

The Season Chant

Kevin at PetraWinter

Winter is rainy
Summer is sunny
Autumn is cloudy
Spring is lovely

words by Sawsan El Khateeb, Ala’a Al Shaer, Areen Al Kamaysh, Eman Obeasat, Shiraz Ahmad. Music by Kevin

Have your students chant along with it.

After they’ve learned it, put them into pairs and ask them to think of two MORE adjectives to describe each season. Play the chant again and have each group add their adjectives (when the singer says “la la, la la). For example, “Winter is rainy, chilly, windy.”

icon for podpress  The Seasons Chant [1:01m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Boots of Belarus

Published on October 25, 2008

Watch a photo slide show with original music about girls’ who wear boots in Belarus.

#129 Halloween Stuff 2008

Published on October 24, 2008

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere, E-textbook — Issue #129

In this issue you have a new poem, with audio, about a monster called Paul.  Also you’ll find some activities from past ETs in Russia issues included below.

=> Paul the Monster Crashes a Party (poem with audio)
=> Ghostly Unfinished Sentences (speaking and grammar activity)
=> Two Witches (poem with audio)

Paul the Monster Crashes a Party

crash a party = attend a party without an invitation

Poor Paul the Monster!
Depression at last had set in,
from living alone the woods
With not a soul there to threaten.

What good is a monster
if there’s no one to see
what a hard, cold-hearted
hideous ol’ brute he can be?

So Paul the Monster crashed a party.
It wasn’t easy to get in.
But, my what a shock he got–
from all those there that met him.

They reached out their claws
or paws or tentacles in slime,
and our poor Paul yelled
“You’re monsters too–just like I am.”

Next to them, he wasn’t so bad,
so there was no one to threaten.
Then some creature cried out, “Let’s party!”
and popped a cassette in.

It was scary, wild, repulsively
pulsing monster music!
But they all rather liked it,
and it was their right to choose it.

Each creature had its own unsightly
unseemly, yucky dancing style
which, to his amazement,
Paul got used to after a while.

What kind of monster was he?
What kind of monster was Paul?
His heart was warm and fuzzy
He wasn’t much a monster at all.

Ghostly Unfinished Sentences

Students, in pairs or groups, can finish the sentences below.  There’s really no wrong answer. Use your imagination.  (No need to explain the rules of gerunds and infinitives-if such rules exist, they probably won’t help students learn.  Instead, this activity gives them lots of practice and exposure to certain verbs that take gerunds, and certain verbs that take infinitives.  In fact, you don’t have to mention gerunds and infinitives at all).

Compare the sentences when finished. Maybe award prizes to the most creative or funniest.

Ghosts enjoy… walking through the halls at night.
Ghosts know how to… eat pizza in the dark.
Ghosts avoid… listening to Brittany Spears.

1. Ghosts enjoy…
2. Ghosts know how to…
3. Ghosts avoid…
4. Ghosts look forward to
5. Ghosts don’t mind…
6. Ghosts will often offer to…
7. Ghosts sometimes forget to…

Two Witches

What’s a C test? Well, starting from the second line of this poem, the second half of each word is missing. See if you can supply the correct letters to finish the words.


Such a frightening witch I’ve never seen
with h_ _ hair s_ black a_ _ her sk_ _ so gre_ _,
and h_ _ rear s_ fat a_ _ her ey_ _ like chlo_ _ _ _.
On h_ _ broom sh_ flies li_ _ a garg_ _ _ _ statue
You c_ _ run fr_ _ her, b_ _ she’ll alw_ _ _ catch y_ _.

But _ know _ beaut_ _ _ _ witch t_ _.
with redd _ _ _ hair a_ _ eyes o _ moonlight bl _ _.
If y_ _ are sa _ she h_ _ a spe _ _ for y_ _.
On h_ _ broom n_ other wit_ _ can mat_ _ her.
You ru _ after he_, but yo_ won’t cat_ _ her.

Answers to “Two Witches”
Such a scary witch I’ve never seen
with her hair so black and her skin so green,
and her rear so fat and her eyes like chorline.
On her broom she flies like a gargoyle statue
You can run from her, but she’ll always catch you.

But I know a beautiful witch too,
with reddish hair and eyes of moonlight blue.
If you are sad she has a spell for you.
On her broom no other witch can match her.
You run after her, but you won’t catch her.

Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.

#128 2 Quick Riddles & Kasha Malasha Translation

Published on July 29, 2008

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere #128

Russian Product Banner in Mountain View, California

=> 4 Riddles: Easy C-Test Activities
=> Kasha Malasha Translation Activity
=> Riddle Answers

Quick Riddle C-Test Activity

In a C-test, half of every second word is missing. An apostrophe counts as a letter.
In the four riddles below, students will figure out the missing letters and complete the words. Then, in groups, they can try to guess the answers to the riddles. (The answers are at the bottom of the page).
You write these on the board before the students even arrive. That way, students are thinking English language before the class even starts. are already filling the gaps and solving the riddles as class begins.
1. Can yo__ find th_ words fo_ three consec___ days with___ using Mon___, Tuesday, Wedn___, Thursday, Fri___, Saturday, o__ Sunday?
2. This thi__ has fi__ fingers, b__ it isn__ alive. Wh__ is i__?
3. What i__ white whi__ it’s dir__ and bla__ when it__ clean?
4. This belo__ to y__. Other peo__ use i__ very oft__ when th__ are wi__ you, bu__ you don__. What i__ it?

Kasha Malasha Translation Activity

I found this grocery shop in Mountain View, California, and outside was a banner reading “Russian Products.” So IRussian buckwheat exported to America went in and bought some of that kasha that comes in packages.

This kasha (buckwheat) was made for export, so there were English instructions how to cook it. These instructions made me laugh until a tear fell out of my eye and landed on my elbow.

It’s really a mish-mash of a translation–thus, kasha malasha.

Here’s the task (which will of course only work for Russian-speaking students of English).

1) Give a pair of students or a small group the English text. Their job is to translate it into Russian.

2) When they have done so, show them the original Russian text (see below). Discuss any surprises.

3) Now that they have both versions, ask them to re-write the English translation, making it accurate and comprehensible.Instructions for preparing Kasha

Here’s the English translation:

To place a bag in a plenty of the boiling added some salt water. To cook on moderate fire of 15 minutes. To get a bag, having picked up a plug for a loop, stipulated for this purpose. To allow water to flow down. To open a bag, having broken off it on a line of notches. To lay out a product on a dish and add oil to taste.

Here’s the Russian version

Поместить пакетик в большое количество кипящей подсоленной воды. Варить на умеренном огне 15 минут. Достать пакетик, и, подцепив вилкой за петлю, предусмотренную для этой цели, дать воде стечь. Открыть пакетик, разорвав его по линии надсечек. Выложить продукт на блюдо и добавить масло по вкусу.

Riddle Answers

1. Can you find the words for three consecutive days without using Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

2. This thing has five fingers, but it isn’t alive. What is it?

A glove

3. What is white when its dirty and black when its clean?

A blackboard

4. This belongs to you. Other people use it very often when they are with you, but you don’t. What is it?

Your name

#127 The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game

Published on July 3, 2008

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere #127


=> The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game
=> In the Next Issues

The Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game

This game was explained to me — in English — by 10-year-old Dana Yastremskaya of Minsk, Belarus. Thanks, Dana. (Oh, incidentally, you can hear a recording of Dana’s song “The Bee” at ETsEverywhere.com.)

Here is what you do. Take an object. It can be a toy, a ball, or a candy bar. This will be called the “Surprise.”

The teacher then wraps a piece of paper around this. It can be a piece of scratch paper, newspaper, whatever. Around that, wrap another piece of paper. Keep doing this until there are ten or fifteen layers of paper around the Surprise.

The game is rather like musical chairs. Students stand in a circle. They pass the Paper-Wrapped Surprise around between them.

The teacher plays music. Then she abruptly stops the music. Whoever is holding the Paper-Wrapped Surprise at that moment unwraps the outer piece of paper. (You don’t have to play music. An egg timer works great too).

The student who removes the last piece of paper wins the Surprise.

Adding Language Tasks
Okay, you have noticed that the Paper-Wrapped Surprise Game is not much of a language task. Well, at least you can introduce appropriate English words: words like “wrap,” unwrap,” “prize,” and “surprise.”

But we can do more. Let’s add a task each time a student unwraps a piece of paper.

One way to do this is to give each student a piece of paper BEFORE the game is played and ask them to write, say, a personal opinion question (“What is your favorite kind of ice cream?”), or a time question (What time you get home from school/work every day?). Just give students some guidance with their questions so that they don’t all ask the same thing.

So, in this version of the game, the student who unwraps the paper, looks at it, and directs that question to someone else in the group. Now, we have some speaking involved at every step of the game (and writing practice beforehand).

If that sounds too simple for your adult class. Make the task more challenging. Try a “Name Three Things” task, where, on each paper, is written something like “Name Three Things People Do at a Wedding,” or “Name Three Things You Would do if you were in Tokyo.” (This will increase the amount of spoken language in the task.).

The kinds of tasks that can be done at each stage of paper unwrapping are virtually unlimited.

NOTE: It will probably help if you use smaller pieces of paper closer to the Surprise, and bigger pieces toward the outside. (Actually, I’ve never played this game before, so write to me if you try it: kevin at kevinmccaughey.com)

In the Next Issues

Sale of Alaska text?

Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.

#126 The Great Song Translation Activity

Published on June 2, 2008

English Teachers in Russia & Elsewhere

E-textbook — Issue #126


=> The Great Song Translation Activity
=> Where to find songs?
=> Lyrics to Cole Porter’s “True Love”
=> In the Next Issues

The Great Song Translation Activity

This activity has many steps, but that’s what makes it good. Students are challenged to use several skills along the way: translation, composition, correction, listening closely. And then there are interpersonal skills like negotiation, discussion, comparison, speculation.
Time: 30 minutes.  Depends on the length of the song lyric.

Materials needed:Kevin’s mother, featured singer

(1) Recording of a song. You can use the song “True Love” (1:18) if you want. You’ll find a free downloadable mp3 of it at the bottom of this post, sung by me and my mum. (There she is, to the right, in 1946 at the age of 22.)  But any song or poem will work, of course.
(2) Handouts of translations of this song into students’ native language (L1)
(3) Blackboard, whiteboard, or poster paper.

Step 1

Find an English language song. It should be a song the students don’t know. It shouldn’t be too long. You’ll need the lyrics and an audio.

Step 2

Translate the lyrics FROM English to the L1 of the students using a computer translator. Let your students know it’s a computer translation, but they should try to make the best English they can out of it. You’ll see that the translation comes out kind of funky. Here’s a Russian translation of the Cole Porter song “True Love.” (For the English lyrics see below).

Kind of funny, huh?

And here are translations (using Google: http://www.google.com/language_tools) in Japanese…

“True Love” in Japanese

… and Arabic.

“True Love” in Arabic

I suspect they are funny too, although I don’t read Japanese or Arabic.

Now if all your students speak Russian, or they all speak Japanese, paste the appropriate translation onto an MS Word document. You can fit about 20 on a single page in fact.Print that page, cut it up, distribute. Or you could even write the translation on the board.What if your class is a mixed group–made up of 5 Chinese speakers, 6 Arabic speakers, 2 Czechs, 2 Romanians, 1 Mexican, 1 Thai, and 1 Turk? Well, make translations in those seven languages. It’s easy. All you do is paste the English into a free translator, like Google’s, or one of these:


Then paste the various translations into your Word document. Print and distribute to the appropriate pairs and groups.It doesn’t take long to do even seven or eight computer translations, and you don’t mind because you’re such a good teacher, and you love making really interesting and useful activities.

Step 3

Distribute handouts of the translated song (NOT the English version), one per group. Groups will work together, translating the song into English.

Step 4

With the translations done, you now have several versions, one for each group. Ask someone from each group to write their group’s translation on the board, or on a poster so that everybody in the class can see

Step 5

Take a moments to compare the several translations. Students may want to talk about the differences.

Step 6

Give a piece of chalk or a marker to one student from each group. These students will stand at the board next to their group’s translation.

Announce that–at last–you are going to play a recording of the English language version of the song. The students’ job is now to listen very closely, to compare the original English version with the translation that they have written. The standing students will make corrections, trying to make the translated version exactly like the original. Members of these students’ groups will help by advising (or shouting) from their desks.
Do not stop the song. Play it all the way through.

Step 7

Does any group have the English version rendered exactly? If not, play the song again. Give groups another chance at listening. Discuss changes and corrections. If the song is short, you may even want to play it a third time.

Step 8

By now, everyone knows the words, and they are written for all to see. Play the audio and have the class sing along.

Where to Find Songs

You can use any song. I’ll you need is a recording of it and the original lyrics. Simple songs work best, of two minutes or less. A long song would be strictly for advanced learners.
Try English Teachers Everywhere (www.etseverywhere.com). You’ll find tons of songs, for adults, teens, and kids.
Free Kids Music has some cool songs, free to download, but you’ll have to write down the lyrics yourself.

Or use “True Love” below.

Lyrics to “True Love” by Cole Porter

P loves X = True LoveI give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
For on and on through eternity
True love, true love
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to me and to give to you
Love forever, true

In the next Issues

Fathers’ Day stuff. Re-creation dictation. Text on the Sale of Alaska. Idiom – “Until the Cows Come Home.”

Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.

icon for podpress  "True Love" by Kevin and his mom [1:18m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

#125 Scavenger Hunts

Published on May 27, 2008

=> Word Origins: Scavenger & Scavenger Hunt
=> 3 Scavenger Hunt Ideas
=> In the Next Issues

Word Origins: Scavenger & Scavenger Hunt

Scavengers are animals that find and eat dead animals. These include vultures, beetles, and raccoons. Scavenger comes from a Middle English word, skawager, which was, actually, a customs collector. (You can see what people think of tax collectors!). Ordinary people can scavenge too: meaning collect things by searching through a bunch of old stuff.

“A scavenger hunt is a game in which individuals or teams seek to find a number of specific items, or perform tasks, as given in a list. The goal is either to complete the list first, or to complete the list in the most creative manner.” (Definition from wikipedia).

Elsa Maxwell (1883-1963), an American author, songwriter and professional hostess is credited with developing scavenger hunts and treasure hunts as party games. The press called her “the Hostess with the Mostest.” (That’s most-est, a non-grammatical superlative form of the word most.) Giving parties was what she was most famous for.

Of her life and success she said,”not bad, for a short, fat, homely piano player from Keokuk, Iowa, with no money or background, who decided to become a legend and did just that.” (Homely is a polite word for ugly).

3 Scavenger Hunt Ideas

Scavenger Hunts are great language activities because they’re easy, quick, and fun, and they put students in the center of the action. Students work together, organizing their searches. They practice skimming or scanning, a useful reading skill. They use their imaginations and interpret things.

You can even ask students to make their own lists of things to be scavenged, once they understand how the game works.

1. The Magazine Scavenger Hunt

You will need some magazines, five to ten per group. But you can add newspapers, books, posters, adverts, postcards, decorations on the classroom wall, etc. It’s best if these are in English. But they don’t have to be.

Put students into groups of 2, 3, or 4. Each group will have a pile of magazines or other things to look through. Hand out the Scavenger Hunt List to each group:

1. something red and round
2. the word “after”
3. two separate things that are physically connected
4. something in a glass
5. someone wearing glasses
6. an animal with a tail
7. a woman holding something
8. a chair
9. a sentence of exactly five words
10. a man who’s not smiling

This is a race. Each group will look through all their materials trying to find all items in the list. The first team to find all 10 is the winner. (They will need to show where they found them).

Afterwards, the teacher can elicit more language by asking questions. Ask students, for instance, to show and explain what they found that were separate but physically connected. Or “What is your five-word sentence?”

The activity works for any level. For basic levels, a Scavenger Hunt list might look like this…

1. a ball
2. a dog
3. something purple
4. a chair

And so on.

Tip: If you live in the U.S., public libraries or recycle outlets often have bins of magazines for the taking. Grab 30 or 40 for your classroom.

If you live overseas, ask your friendly neighborhood foreigner to donate old magazines. Or try your U.S., Canadian, British, Irish, Aussie, Kiwi embassies for material.

2. The Classroom Scavenger Hunt

With basic-level groups, to reinforce utilitarian vocabulary, make a list of things that can be found in the classroom (or in purses and wallets), like this:

1. a pencil
2. an ID photo of a person
3. coin
4. a bill / note (money)
5. a folded piece of paper
6. something green
7. a paper clip
8. a dictionary
9. a cup or glass
10. some kind of fruit

Yes, it’s possible that some of these things won’t be found. That’s okay. Whichever team finds the most wins.

Until the Cows Come Home3. The Internet Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of questions.

1. What is the Alamo?
2. Who invented the skateboard? When and Where?
3. What does the idiom “till the cows come home” mean? (See the drawing to the right. Can you figure out the meaning? Click to enlarge.)

And so on. Each group will go to the Internet, and try to answer all the assigned questions. Once again, it’s a race.

In the Next Issues

“The Great Song Translation Activity.”

Thanks to Nadya Solovyova in Obninsk for reminding me to publish ETs in Russia.

Copyright 2008 Kevin McCaughey & I.M. Poosheesty.

#123 Tapering Dialogues – a pair writing activity

Published on November 25, 2007

=> Tapering Dialogues – a pair writing activity by Mario Rinvolucri
=> Following up Tapering Dialogues
=> In the Next Issues

Tapering Dialogues – a pair writing activity by Mario Rinvolucri

This activity was created by Mario Rinvolucri. (See “Unleashing Writing
Creativity in Students,” English Teaching Forum, Volume 43, Number 4, 2005). It works great! http://exchanges.state.gov/forum/vols/vol43/no4/p42.htm

Allow fifteen minutes, including directions and demonstration.

Students are in pairs. Each student has a piece of paper and writes a 7-word question at the top that he/she would like his partner to answer. E.g. “What’s your favorite musical group or singer?” What’s fun to do when it rains?”

Partners exchange papers. Now each person has a question to answer. This answer should be 6 words. The person will write the answer beneath the question.

Exchange papers again: on the return of his/her own paper, each student writes a five word response, and so on.

Here are two exchanges from a pair of students:

Yoko: The weather’s pretty cold today, isn’t it? (7 words)
Merdan: I don’t think it’s so cold. (6 words)
Yoko: Really? In Japan this’s cold (5 words)
Merdan: Why not wear a sweater? (4 words)
Yoko: Tomorrow I will. (3 words)
Merdan: You should. (2 words).
Yoko: Absolutely. (1 word)

For this to work well, it is wise to make demonstrations. For instance, the teacher can get an outgoing student and the two can do the first tapering dialogue on the border.

Contractions count as one word: “I’m.” “Can’t.” “Won’t,” etc.
Advanced students can really explore English short cuts, like “whaddaya,” “coulda” “wanna,” “gonna,” “d’ya,” etc.

Thank you Mario, for this great activity.

Going Further

Some suggestions for teachers…

Make this a three-way writing task instead of just two… Could it be done? What are the advantage/ disadvantages?
Do you need the 7 words to one-word tapering aspect? Try the activity a second time. This time allow student to make seven sentences of any word length. Ask your students which activity works better.

If you have a laptop with recording software, ask a pair of students to go outside and record their tapering dialog. When they come back in, play the audio file, and have the rest of the class write down the conversation. Then ask what variations could take place with each line. (Recording with your computer’s built-in mic is really easy. Try http://audacity.sourceforge.net/).

© 2007 Kevin McCaughey and I.M. Poosheesty


Published on November 11, 2007

dogs-staying-warm-dalnerechensk-russia.jpgПеревела с английского Елена Ильенкова

Россия – страна женщин. По крайней мере, так было для меня. Я работал преподавателем для учителей в городе Самаре, и девяносто процентов в этой сфере составляли женщины. В нашем офисе моя начальница и коллеги были женщины. Официантки кафе и кассирши гастронома были, как правило, женщинами. Когда я сталкивался с соседями по лестничной площадке, это были жены и дочери. Казалось даже, что на романтической набережной Волги девушек гуляет больше, чем влюбленных.

Вместо осмотра достопримечательностей – потому, что настоящих интересных мест было мало – я, бывало, покупал трамвайный билет за три рубля и катался по всему маршруту. Нацисты так и не перешли Волгу и не разрушили Самару, и в результате, однотипные ряды советских кварталов, наводнившие вновь отстроенные города, внезапно открывали пейзажи столетней давности: изрытые грязными колеями дороги, которые вились мимо покосившихся деревянных домишек с колодцами и дремлющими собаками.

Для поездок весна – лучшее время. Из окна я видел, как почки на ветвях деревьев наливались, готовясь лопнуть и выпустить зеленые листья. И кругом было так много девушек! Держась за руки, они фланировали на высоких каблучках по разбитым выщербленным тротуарам, ели мороженое или пили пиво из бутылок. Они ездили на трамваях в весенних платьях, держа букеты цветов в еще не загорелых руках. Разок–другой я выходил из трамвая вслед за какой-нибудь девушкой с манящими глазами, предоставляя ей возможность вести меня куда угодно; так Дон Кихот шел за своим Росинантом.

Оказалась, не я единственный занимался подобными исследованиями.

Однажды солнечным днем, когда высохшая после весеннего таяния грязь высохла и слоем покрывала улицы, я встретил белого пса, ехавшего на трамвае номер 18. Было воскресенье, так что трамвай не был переполнен – всего несколько человек на задней площадке. Небритый мужчина занял одно из трех пластиковых кресел возле заднего окна; у него на плечах болтался темный пиджак. В связи с наступлением весеннего сезона в городе отключили горячую воду, и от него пахло немытым телом. Была также женщина в громоздком плаще – недоверчивая к прекрасной погоде и ожидающая, что она закончится. Одной рукой она сжимала поручень над головой, а другой – пластиковый пакет с овощами и завернутый в газету букетик ландышей.

Между ними был белый пес. Шерсть у него была жесткая, а внизу живота – грубая, как у кабана. Вокруг глаз были болячки, но глаза были спокойные и какие-то уважительные. Он переводил их с одного пассажира на другого и, наконец, уставился на какой-то нейтральный предмет. «С кем он?»,- спросил я сам себя.

Небритый мужик поставил локти на колени, а его плечи покачивались в такт движению трамвая. Он заметил, что я наблюдаю за собакой.

– Очаровательная собака, да?

Очаровательная собака? Я кивнул: конечно.

Женщина в плаще двинулась к дверям, и через секунду трамвай с лязгом остановился. Балансируя, пес переменил положение. Шерсть у него на брюхе свалялась от грязи и топорщилась; молодые люди добиваются того же с помощью геля. Двери с шипением отворились. Женщина скользнула вниз по ступенькам, сжимая сумку и поручень. Пес подождал, пока она сойдет с последней, самой крутой ступени, на тротуар, и тоже вышел. Я услышал, что она говорит: «Ну, все. Не ходи за мной. Уходи».

В громкоговорителе послышался металлический голос вагоновожатого: «Осторожно. Двери закрываются». Трамвай дернулся вперед; из заднего окна я смотрел, как женщина переходит улицу, а белый пес идет за ней на почтительном расстоянии.

Я не думал о белом псе еще несколько недель. Я ехал на трамвае, а он вышагивал по тротуару. Это было далеко от того места, где я впервые его встретил, но – подумалось мне – все же, вдоль трамвайной линии. Неужели белый пес действительно ездит по городу на трамваях? Мне приходилось видеть собак, которые ждали нужного огня светофора на опасных перекрестках и смотрели налево и направо перед тем, как перейти улицу. Поэтому поездки в трамваях не были каким-то препятствием. А если пес хорошо вел себя в трамвае – как этот пес – я не видел, чтобы кондуктор пинал его. Русские не обращают внимания на бездомных животных. Они знают, что жизнь тяжела, а зима достаточно враждебна. Несколько недель назад я видел последствия несчастных случаев, когда появились погибшие животные. Вместе с весенней оттепелью растаял снег у стволов деревьев и у стен, и там и сям появились намокшие шерсть и плоть – черные останки птиц, кошек и собак.

Я надеялся, что белый пес выжил.

После того дня, гуляя по городу, я начал высматривать белого пса. И только в сентябре я снова увидел его. Я обнаружил его на трамвае номер 18 – там же, где и раньше. Наступал час пик, и трамвай был переполнен. Люди возвышались над ним, и он поднимал глаза, остерегаясь, как бы кто-нибудь не наступил ему на лапу.

Возле старой кирпичной пожарной каланчи на Клинической и Чернореченской улицах трамвай выпустил толпу пассажиров, в том числе и белого пса. Его нос не поднялся на запах, шедший от машины с цыплятами гриль; он обошел трамвай сзади вместе с толпой, направлявшейся к тротуару, магазину и рынку. Когда люди разошлись каждый своей дорогой, я увидел, что у белого пса была хозяйка. Это была не прежняя женщина. Эта была изящнее, немного моложе, с шарфом на голове, но она не замечала белого пса, который тихонько трусил позади…

Чего же хотел этот пес? Возможно, поесть. Но, если и так, то он очень ненавязчиво давал это понять. В нем не было ни капли навязчивости. Это был гордый пес.

Хозяйка белого пса повернула от рыночной шумихи на Клиническую, мимо цветочных рядов с продавцами, сидевшими на табуретках возле ведерок с гвоздиками и розами. Здесь пес приостановился. Он посмотрел на цветы, повернул голову к даме в шарфе, продолжавшей свой путь по тротуару. Затем, как мне показалось, с чем-то вроде печальной решимости он пошел за ней.

Странным было это собачье представление. Я придумал о нем слишком много. Пес не мог мечтать о том, чтобы дарить цветы. Как бы там ни было, одно было ясно. Он искал женщину. Он был ухажером.

В последний раз я увидел белого пса из трамвая дождливым днем в преддверии зимы. Он шел по Половой улице в направлении реки. Толпа в трамвае закрыла от меня окна. Я не хотел его потерять, поэтому двинулся к дверям и, когда они открылись, бросился на улицу. Лавируя между прохожими, я оказался ближе. Белый пес был, как и прежде, в шаге-другом позади какой-то женщины. Эта была старше, с палочкой; возможно, она была бабушкой. Она не оглядывалась. Она прошла перекресток с проспектом Ленина, мимо парней в кожаных куртках, продающих с лотков видеокассеты, мимо таджиков с сухофруктами, мимо безногого, который всегда сидел здесь на коврике. Послышалось лязганье и грохот трамвая справа, с проспекта Ленина. Услышав, бабушка ускорила шаг, да и белый пес не отставал. Они подходили к углу, к торговцам цветами.

Я подумал, что он ни в коем случае не остановится. Наверное, я сказал это вслух.

Бабушка прошла мимо цветов, все быстрее работая своей палочкой, по мере того, как трамвайный перезвон становился громче.

Но белый пес остановился. Он не обнюхивал трещинки на тротуаре, а просто остановился и устремил взгляд на ведра с цветами, стоявшие в три ряда.

Красно-белый трамвай с пронзительным визгом остановился посреди проспекта Ленина. Белый пес перевел взгляд с цветов на бабушку. Она шла вперед к толпе.

Времени оставалось немного.

Бросив прощальный взгляд на все обилие цветов, он опустил голову и торопливо пересек улицу. Двери трамвая открылись. Белый пес понюхал бабушкин след, и они забрались внутрь. По-моему, она его так и не заметила.

Весь следующий год я высматривал белого пса, но напрасно. Может быть, он не сумел пережить зиму. Хотя, опять же, его Россия – это страна женщин, а ему и нужна-то была всего одна. Может быть, он ее нашел.