updated 9 Jul 2012, 12:22
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Thu, Apr 12, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network
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The 'missus' is from Russia, with love
by Regina Lee

In Russia, one could say "I miss you" to a friend and that would be deemed a casual greeting with no romantic undertones.

But, as Olga Vadimovna Vasilevkaya found out, saying it in Malay could mean an expression of strong affection.

When she wrote to businessman Shahabudeen Jalil Kamarul Jaman, she didn't know then that the phrase had a romantic connotation.

"I didn't know it was used by lovers!" she exclaimed, blushing when interviewed by The Star at the couple's home in Ampang yesterday.

Olga was the 19-year old student of Moscow's Institute of Oriental Studies who won the hearts of the nation and judges of the International Malay Language Elocution Contest in 2007.

She took home the coveted Prime Minister's Trophy as best speaker.

On March 31, on her 25th birthday, Olga married the man who had coached her via the Internet.

They are now making preparations for their wedding reception on July 21, when Shahabudeen will be celebrating his 30th birthday.

Olga, who was studying Malay Language and Malay History at the institute, was introduced to Shahabudeen by a coursemate.

"Although he became my coach through the internet, I met him only when I came to Malaysia four months later for the competition," she said.

They kept in touch after she flew home and love blossomed within a few weeks, spurred by Olga's blunder over the word rindu (I miss you) in one of her letters.

Shahabudeen replied that he too "rindu" her, and further expressed his feelings of affection for her.

Taken by surprise, Olga explained that, in Russia, it was a casual greeting. But, the inevitable happened.

There were moments of heartache when he had to work in New Zealand for three months and she went to China to study Mandarin.

"I couldn't bear the thought of staying and finding work in Moscow because I hardly have friends there. Most of my friends are in Malaysia and it became hard to concentrate without Shahabudeen around," she said.

He felt the same and flew to Shanghai where he proposed.

Olga plans to settle down in Malaysia and help in her husband's business, which deals with products from China.

She will also give lessons in Bahasa Malaysia to her compatriots who are staying and working here.

At the same time, she is also thinking of taking lessons in Tamil, a language also used among Shahabudeen's relatives.

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