Monthly Archives: June 2010

Don’t tell me that you didn’t cry when Shrek gave himself up to free all the other ogres.

Last night I went to a Georgian restaurant with Ilaria, (I misspelled her name last week as Iralia…I misspelled alot of things last week actually, sorry about that, sticky internet club key board). We saw a chinese restaurant that had English translations on the menus, “fungus and onions” sounded delicious, we’ll have to go there next time. She was excited to go to a Georgian place because she actually lived there for a few months and that’s where she met her fiancee Sarafim.

A lot of the pictures I’m posting this week are from the Holiday last Saturday “Алые Паруса”. Here is how it works, there is this story about a girl in St. Petersburg who was told that a Prince would come and rescue her from her poor miserable life, entering, not on a white horse with shining armour, but on a ship with scarlet sails. I highly doubt he ever came, but every year they make a huge production out of the re-inactment. Everyone comes out and at roughly 2 am a ship sets sail on the Neva and makes it’s way down to the Winter Palace, there are fireworks and concerts and lots and lots of alcohol. Naturally.  The metro shuts down for the night like usual and the bridges are raised so you kind of have to choose a side of the bridge to be on when it goes down. Whatever you do, do not pick the wrong side.

I was supposed to meet up with friends at 10 o’clock. I went into the city early by myself to go to a book store and pick up a tour guide, and had the fortune to get lost on my way to the bus stop to meet them. When I say get lost, I mean really really lost, completely disoriented I couldn’t tell if my head was still over my feet.

By the time I figured out where I needed to go it was well past 10:30 as I drew nearer, I could see that the street I needed to pass on was blocked. I tried fruitlessly for an hour to find another way around but it was to no avail. Brunellaand I kept calling each other but by this point there was no getting through. We were both on the same side of the neva(opposite from the dorm where we live) but on opposite sides of the Winter Palace and the Russian Police were bound and determined to not let me have a good time. So it was at roughly 11:45 I found myself, alone and cold in a crowd of millions of people (millions) with no time left to get across the bridge where I would at least be able to return home. It dawned on me then that I was faced with spending the entire night by myself until I could take the Metro back at 4 am. So me and my tired feet (that had already been walking all day) wandered aimlessly through the city searching for at least a place where I would be able to watch the spectacle. I managed to find a place to stand after an hour but still had a couple hours of waiting to do. I read a little, eaves dropped, explored camera settings, and dreamed of when I could curl into bed. At last the fireworks came and I watched the ship set sail. (I was situated near the starting point South East of the trinity bridge) When “that ship had sailed” I turned quickly to walk back through the Metro. It was 2:30 I still had an hour and a half with nothing to do but wait. As I made my way through the crowd I was confronted with something I have never experienced before. I was surrounded by millions of people nearly all of which (at least 85%) had been steadily drinking for the last 5 to 6 hours. The streets were COMPLETELY covered with broken beer bottles and everywhere I looked there were people stumbling or peeing or making out. It reminded me a lot of home.

I found a spot near an entrance to an underground tunnel where there were some police situated and sat on a little embankment by the stairs. One of the policeman promptly came up to me and told me I couldn’t sit so close to the vehicle but upon further investigation, finding I was a hapless girl all on my own, took pity on me and said I could just scoot over a little bit. I did, pulled my knees up to my chest and propped my bag up like a pillow and tried to sleep. But I kept losing my balance everytime I started to doze off so eventually I gave up.

Tomorrow I’m going to see Swan Lake. So far I’ve seen Shrek 4, and the Opera Eugene Onegin. Which basically now all I need to do is go and see a soccer game and I will almost experienced the entire spectrum of Russian Culture. And I still have 9 weeks to go.

Until then – God give you health.

Pictures.

The opera

R: guy passed out (I have no shame, it’s my right as an American tourist to take pictures of anything I want).

forgot to post this one from the plane. Have you ever seen a little fat foot this cute before?! I hadn’t.

 

When in doubt…don’t ask questions, just get off the bus.

If you look up the word for diapers in a Russian dictionary you’ll find the word pyelyownky (pyell-own-kee). But don’t expect to go to a supermarket and get diapers if you ask for пелёнки just how we refer to tissue paper universally as kleenex here all diapers are “памперс” (Pampers with a Russian accent naturally.)

So my teacher asked me an unexpected question yesterday, “How long have you had Pampers [in America]?” I took a stab, “I don’t know, 40 or 50 years?”
“We’ve had them for ten.” she said.

Suddenly I finally got it. I got what communism and the Soviet nion meant. It meant that while we were busy with various cultural and technological revolutions, exchanging our pagers for cell phones and cassette tapes for IPODs, there was an industrialized country with the means to compete in a world market that was full of people whose only option was cloth diapers.

I’ve been away for a year and a half, but it feels like it was only a week. In a weird way Russia feels like home. I feel like I fit in and belong and everything is familiar. Familiar, but not necessarily pleasant. If you gave me two words to describe Russia as a home, I doubt comfy or cozy would come to mind. They hardly put out a welcome mat for me either.

The first two days were mostly miserable. When my plane landed there was a man at the airport with my name on a sign. He dropped me off at my dorm with absolutely zero instructions about where to go or what to do. I had no idea when or where classes were or how to pay or register. Nothing. So – on Monday morning I just started wandering around and asking who I could and slowly and painfully began to put the pieces together bit by bit.

Just to give you a taste of Russian beauracracy,

I show up at a buildig where I have a hunch I’m supposed to be and tell them I’m there to register for classes, and smile and hope they know what I’m talking about. They do – but I forget my migration card so I travel 20 minutes by bus walk half a mil to get to my dorm. Take the lift to the 5th floor because it doesn’t work on the 4th where I live. Walk back half a mile catch another bus, walk back up 6 flights of stairs give them my migration card when the lady smiles apologetically and tells me I have to walk another mile to a building accross the city and give a piece of paper to a man (doesn’t tell me where his office is or how to find him besides the building number). I go to him he tells me he had been waiting for hours, but I already did what I needed to so he has a student take me through a maze out the back door to a bank where I hand another slip of paper to a lady and give her money for my registration for the city. Then it’s back a mile to give the first lady the receipt then I have to go to a different room to take a Russian exam (80% woohoo!) then I’m sent to a different room to register.

After I leave I realize o one told me how to get my student ID card (which I’ve only guessed I need since everyone else seems to have one) or when I’ll get my city registration back or when I actually start classes. I decided I’d save a lot of energy and just show up the next day.

Same thing with trying to pay for my room and get a cell phone (which by the way Emily called me on so skype does work if anyone needs to call me!)

That being said, I’ve had to deal with a wave of emotional turmoil, uncertainty, fear, lonliness, exhaustion, defeat, etc. But I expected as much so I do my best to walk it off and not allow myself to really think about how I feel. Just turn off emotions and go, it works for the most part. But like I said the first two days were hard. (All the emails cheered me up immensely)

On the other hand I was so thrilled by everything at the sametime, so moments of harrowing logig for a familiar face were itermigled with moments of exultant, heart exploding out of your chest joy and wonderment. It’s like being in love…I think.

The sun here goes down between 12:30 and 1:30 AM and starts to come up again by 2. They are celebrating “Byeliah Noche” or White Night. It’s really hard to sleep. But, all the sunlight gives you energy and makes you happy. Usually I fall asleep by two and wake up again by 5:30.

Anyway, I occasionally have a spare moment and those are usually occupied with thoughts of you all. I’ve penciled you all in for August 22nd with a promise to then do all the things I want to do now like – go baby clothes shopping or come crash your honey moon (it lasts the whole first year right?)

 с любовю
марли

Pictures!

In front of the Hermitage, L-R Russian guy (back row), Yours truly, Iralia (Vermont), Brunella (Italy) Veronica (Italy)

у матросов нет вопросов (ew matrosov nyet vaprosov…sailors don’t ask questions)

Sister Kolodina!!!!!

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Beer.