The Bigger the Better
On forgetting

Firstly, spring here is freaking miraculous.  In seemingly the space of the week, it went from bare and barren to astonishingly green and verdant.  Incredible: I can’t even imagine how summer is!

Secondly, I passed my Russian exam (yay!) and have been packing to leave today.  I can’t believe I’m only in Russia for three more days… it’s almost incomprehensible.  Leaving the moon, what?!  I have a lot to write about and am as always too over-run (or, as I like to think, too amazingly good at procrastinating) to write.  Moreover, a few days ago I discovered that someone has been creeping on me on facebook (and I do have super-high privacy settings—they managed to get around them).  I have no problem with broadcasting my brain to the world (more than 50,000 words on this blog so far!).  I get emails about every fortnight from someone who’s self-confessedly been stalking me via the blog, and they have questions I haven’t answered yet—and that’s also fine.  But it’s different  having someone dishonestly watching what you’re doing.  It’s made me reconsider whether I really want to continue keeping a blog about my travels.  We’ll see.

Anyway, back to sunshine-mode: I haven’t had a ‘random in Russia’ post for a while now, so before I get into the ‘oh my god I’m leaving’ posts, I figured I’d do something a little lighter.  (Good start, Laura!)  So, here are a few of the random moments I’ve relished over the last few weeks:

  • Last Thursday night after babysitting, I met Lana and we went to dinner.  She’s now writing for the St Petersburg Times, and so we went to review a vegetarian restaurant in the centre.  It was a veritable feast: we ordered everything on the menu!  It was vegetarian, and dead cheap too.  (It’s at about 11 Kazanskaya Ulitsa, anyone in St P).  They had freshly-squeezed orange juice: I felt like my brain would explode.  It was so good!  Haha but the random moment wasn’t the restaurant nor the food: it’s when some random guy walked past us and I said to Lana, “well that’s a good looking guy”.  Objectification, much?  Saying exactly what I think is a side-effect of living here I think: I expect that people don’t speak English.  As it turns out, this guy did.  Hilarious!  And sadly, this is not even the first time it’s happened.  Good one, Laura.
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  • Prior to ‘Victory Day’, on May 9, there were a lot of preparations underway in the city.  One morning when on the bus to uni, I was looking out the window and was rather surprised to see a cannon driving past.  It was an actual cannon from WW2 hooked onto the back of an army truck, with three scared-looking guys draped across it as it drove down Nevsky Prospekt.  I made accidentally eye-contact with one of the guys in question, and he pulled the ‘meh, it’s Russia’ shrug which is so often encountered here.
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  • In Australia, cigarette packets have grisly images and slogans about cancer causing death, cancer, birth defects.  Here:
    Smoking may cause impotence.
    Smoking may cause impotence.

    Priorities, priorities.
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  • A month or so ago in my adult class, we were talking about the topic of ‘living standards’.  I threw it to the crowd, and asked what the main reasons for higher or lower living costs are.  First answer?  “Corruption.  How much corruption there is”.  Oh, Russia.
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  • It was my final ‘life club’ on Friday.  Life Clubs are meant to be realistic English-language situations.  In this case, my set topic was ~music.  We made music with water-glasses and everything!  I actually successfully made a glass ‘sing’ for the first time in my life.  So my 7-year-old student arguably taught me more than I taught them on that particular occasion… Anyway, at the end of the lesson I gave them all instruments to make up a song.  We then played along to songs on youtube, and they begged me to put on ‘Gangnam Style’.  I think that seeing a class full of young kids dancing to Gangnam Style while holding a cacophonous assortment of maracas, drums and tambourines is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen!  Mannn did they get into it.  Of course, there was the somewhat unpleasant side effect of having said song stuck in my head for the next two days..
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  • I spotted a Dr Seuss character (and her be-rat-tailed friend) at the Festival of Lights the other week:
    festivaloflights (1 of 3)
  • Last Tuesday night as I was trying to get some sleep before exams in the morning, someone in the apartment block started doing house renovations.  At 11pm.  They were ripping out cupboards and walls.  Thankyou!  At around midnight, my flatmate Michael then burst into the apartment all aflutter because there was a man with a knife in the courtyard, who was being pinned to the ground by police.  Michael had had to physically step over this guy to get to our apartment.  I didn’t even respond from my room—it happens every day.  It’s Russia.  And I was focusing on trying to sleep haha!
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  • On the topic of knives and deaths and so on and so forth, one of my students told me that a body was recently found in one of St Petersburg’s most famous theatres.  Her husband words there, and filled her in on the details.  Apparently this guy had killed himself in the attic.  He left a note, dated during the winter: so he’d been there for months and months.  I was very confused: how could this guy have been missing for months and no-one noticed?  You’d think you’d at least check their place of employment…  Great police work.
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  • Finally, on the topic of theatres, we’re up to Saturday night.  As my last Saturday night in Russia, I decided to arrange a party.  It’s something I do around every month anyway.  Haha I think mainly because I’m lazy, and want people to come to me, rather than having to go out!  Also, lack of money is a thing.  Anyway, the weather was a bit rubbish, and so around an hour before the party was due to start, heaps of people told me they weren’t going to make it.  I then decided to cancel it, as I’d go out with Lana instead: but I hadn’t managed to tell everyone about the cancellation, so I had a very strange selection of people arrive.  The first two to come were Les (who only speaks English), and Nastichka (of Siberia), who only speaks Russian.  So for about an hour, perhaps longer, I was literally the only person in the room who could speak to each of them.  So, so, so awkward.  Eventually, more people came, until everybody bar Les could speak Russian and only a couple of people could speak English: so we switched.  Poor Les.  He eventually left.  Apparently I’m an arsehole…
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    Anyway, at around half midnight, two girls from my uni class (one German, one Italian) arrived, and so I left with them and headed out to find where Lana’s party had gotten to.  We wound up at a bar near Chernyshevskaya and I spoke with Lana and Hoos for a little before playing jenga with the German girl.  As all adults do.
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    The Italian girl with her Russian possibly-boyfriend made it to the bar, and they said they were headed to a house-party.  I said I’d come too.  Hoos asked me, “what are you doing?  Where are you going?” and I said “I have no idea—that’s kind of the point.”  Safety first!
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    Me, the two other girls, the Russian guy and his Russian/Israeli friend all piled into an illegal taxi and headed to goodness-knows-where, where we joined two other guys for the rest of the night.  The four guys all work at a theatre in St P (not the same one as the suicide guy) and were all fairly entertaining.  Actually, they all played the guitar and sang particularly well, so we were serenaded with Russian music.  Which is depressing as fuck.  Russian music is just not happy.  Haha either way, it was a fun night.  Of the seven of us, we were all from different countries, so went by our country names (as is pretty usual actually: I’m used to responding to ‘Australia’).  At around 5:30 I think, I had a little nap, and the others woke me up to go home about an hour later.  Apparently we were only 1km from Sennaya Ploschad’.  I finally got home after 8am… and promptly spent the next two days doing absolutely nothing while trying to catch up on sleep.

Anyway, it’s time to go baby-sitting.  Expect a Russia pros/cons entry in the next few days.  It probably won’t be any less drivelly than this one!  (Forewarned is forearmed, right?  And who doesn’t want four arms?!)

The Bigger the Better
On forgetting

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