+0
There is a passage in my English textbook. In this passage there are two sentences with the simple present tense, in which I think the simple past tense should be used, and they are the following:

1. “there is always a toast”
2. “Many parties, social and political discussions and family gatherings take place here”
In order to show the context of the two sentences, the whole passage has been copied below with the two sentences in question italicized (the two sentences are also in bold type together with the title of the passage)

A Russian Experience

It was almost midnight, yet the streets were bathed in a soft, shimmering light. The sun had just gone down and twilight would soon give way to night. We were strolling along the Nevsky Prospekt, a wide avenue stretching four kilometres and filled with people, music and street entertainers. This was St Petersburg in August and it seemed the city was out to celebrate the long summer nights. We had just left the home of newly found Russian friends and after a wonderful traditional dinner decided to have some exercise before going to bed.

It has always been my dream to visit St Petersburg. Absorbed by Russian history since childhood, I wanted to see it all for myself. Now, thanks to Perestroika, tourists are welcomed into Russia and St Petersburg with its rich, cultural history is a popular choice.

We flew in from Stockholm and from the air immediately noticed a well-planned city with apartment blocks built in semi-circles with central courtyards and gardens. Not only did this seem practical, but the idea behind the design was to shelter residents from the fierce winter winds. The city was built by European architects in the 18th and 19th centuries and remains one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Straddling the wide River Neva, the city is made up of almost 50 islands connected by some 310 bridges. No wonder the sight of elegant buildings along the canals reminded me of Paris, Amsterdam and Venice.

I hadn't met many Russian people but I had an intense love for their country and traditions and was passionate about art and literature. Russian writers such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky reach the very soul of ordinary Russians, and this I find intriguing. It was no different when I finally found myself in Russia. People were openly friendly and eager to discuss any aspect of their lives in their beloved Motherland. No matter how bad the economy, somehow these people have the ability to see the positive aspects of their lives, whatever their circumstances. We met an attractive woman from Moscow, and we fast became friends and it was she who invited us into the home of some dear friends of hers.

The apartment block was in an elegant area of St Petersburg and was probably a palace in the past but now converted into apartments of four floors. The entrance through a narrow hallway was dark and dull and there was an old fashioned lift on the ground floor with steel folding gates that clanged shut, after which the lift moved very slowly upwards. It was quicker to walk up the staircase.

Our host, Yuri Petrochenkov, himself an artist, warmly greeted us at the door. He was tall with gray hair pulled into a tail. His open, friendly manner and twinkling eyes showed a sense of humor and his English with a thick accent made him an entertaining host. Nelly, his wife, spoke little English but understood a great deal more.
We were ushered into their main room, which served as a living-room, dining room and TV area. There was an air of intimacy in the room, as though it was the core part of this family. Many parties, social and political discussions and family gatherings take place here. We were honored to be there and I felt ashamed that I had absolutely no Russian language to attempt to communicate in. Why is it that people of the English-speaking world take for granted that the rest of the world should speak English? I had always meant to learn Russian and had enrolled for courses in the past but they never started because of lack of numbers.

Our meal was a feast in itself. We weren't offered wine, just vodka in little shot glasses and before drinking there is always a toast. Some nine vodkas later, Yuri was in fine form and had found a drinking partner in my husband!

Wandering along the river, we agreed that not only had we found new friends, but we had just spent probably the most enjoyable experience of our trip to Russia. This is what travel is all about - to get to the heart and soul of the people and to try to understand and experience a little of what makes others tick.

+0
Hi,

There is a passage in my English textbook. In this passage there are two sentences with the simple present tense, in which I think the simple past tense should be used, and they are the following:

1. “there is always a toast”
2. “Many parties, social and political discussions and family gatherings take place here”
In order to show the context of the two sentences, the whole passage has been copied below with the two sentences in question italicized (the two sentences are also in bold type together with the title of the passage)

A Russian Experience

It was almost midnight, yet the streets were bathed in a soft, shimmering light. The sun had just gone down and twilight would soon give way to night. We were strolling along the Nevsky Prospekt, a wide avenue stretching four kilometres and filled with people, music and street entertainers. This was St Petersburg in August and it seemed the city was out to celebrate the long summer nights. We had just left the home of newly found Russian friends and after a wonderful traditional dinner decided to have some exercise before going to bed.

It has always been my dream to visit St Petersburg. Absorbed by Russian history since childhood, I wanted to see it all for myself. Now, thanks to Perestroika, tourists are welcomed into Russia and St Petersburg with its rich, cultural history is a popular choice.

We flew in from Stockholm and from the air immediately noticed a well-planned city with apartment blocks built in semi-circles with central courtyards and gardens. Not only did this seem practical, but the idea behind the design was to shelter residents from the fierce winter winds. The city was built by European architects in the 18th and 19th centuries and remains one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Straddling the wide River Neva, the city is made up of almost 50 islands connected by some 310 bridges. No wonder the sight of elegant buildings along the canals reminded me of Paris, Amsterdam and Venice.

I hadn't met many Russian people but I had an intense love for their country and traditions and was passionate about art and literature. Russian writers such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky reach the very soul of ordinary Russians, and this I find intriguing. It was no different when I finally found myself in Russia. People were openly friendly and eager to discuss any aspect of their lives in their beloved Motherland. No matter how bad the economy, somehow these people have the ability to see the positive aspects of their lives, whatever their circumstances. We met an attractive woman from Moscow, and we fast became friends and it was she who invited us into the home of some dear friends of hers.

The apartment block was in an elegant area of St Petersburg and was probably a palace in the past but now converted into apartments of four floors. The entrance through a narrow hallway was dark and dull and there was an old fashioned lift on the ground floor with steel folding gates that clanged shut, after which the lift moved very slowly upwards. It was quicker to walk up the staircase.

Our host, Yuri Petrochenkov, himself an artist, warmly greeted us at the door. He was tall with gray hair pulled into a tail. His open, friendly manner and twinkling eyes showed a sense of humor and his English with a thick accent made him an entertaining host. Nelly, his wife, spoke little English but understood a great deal more.
We were ushered into their main room, which served as a living-room, dining room and TV area. There was an air of intimacy in the room, as though it was the core part of this family. Many parties, social and political discussions and family gatherings take place here.They did, and they still do. The present tense suggests that this visit was not long ago, and that the same custom of toasts exists 'today', ie at the time of writing. We were honored to be there and I felt ashamed that I had absolutely no Russian language to attempt to communicate in. Why is it that people of the English-speaking world take for granted that the rest of the world should speak English? I had always meant to learn Russian and had enrolled for courses in the past but they never started because of lack of numbers.

Our meal was a feast in itself. We weren't offered wine, just vodka in little shot glasses and before drinking there is always a toast. Here, it seems to be a similar idea to the above, but I'd prefer the simple past here myself. Another interpretation is that the writer is trying to make the reader feel that he is present at the meal, but in that case I'd use present tense for the whole sentence, and maybe even the whole paragraph or the whole narrative. Some nine vodkas later, Yuri was in fine form and had found a drinking partner in my husband!

Wandering along the river, we agreed that not only had we found new friends, but we had just spent probably the most enjoyable experience of our trip to Russia. This is what travel is all about - to get to the heart and soul of the people and to try to understand and experience a little of what makes others tick

Best wishes, Clive
Comments  
Thank you very much!