Monday, April 14, 2003

Day 4 and 5

No Internet yesterday so no blog. Had an eventful Saturday and Saturday night. Had no work related stuff to do because no one I would be working with was working on Saturday. So, I went with Igor around town doing the shopping. Igor had 30000 rubles to play with and he wanted to go to the bazaar to see what he could buy with it. I was interested in my friend, the girl who used to sell me fruit all of the time. She wasn’t there, but the market was bustling. I wanted to get a couple of “banks” of tomatoes and pickles to replace some of the stolen goods. Irene, Tatyana’s mother, wanted me to put my bike in the locker out back at night, but because of the cabbage thieves, I was afraid of leaving my bike in there. I chose instead to lock it to the banister outside of their apartment. This seemed to everybody to be a reasonable solution. I did hear though that the police did catch a guy stealing pickled cabbage the other day, but Irene told me it was not the same guy.

Igore spent the whole of his 3000 (about $1.50) on candy, and this was only a problem as we were on the way out when he saw a table full of toys and he had some second thoughts about his having spent his fortune on candy. I was not interested in covering the difference, and there didn’t seem to be any lasting bad feelings. Kids are resilient, I guess. Igor and I then went and had lunch with Tatyana at her work. I am not sure she was so happy about this. I think she likes the time alone. But we were there and we had some food, so we all sat together. I am not sure if it was because she was in a bad mood, or because of other things that the lunch was not so good. Tatyana says that she must take some grief about me from the other women who work there. She says that there was a month or two when the bosses paid her less money, she and her friend Olga, because she was with me and the others thought that this made her rich. I felt pretty bad when I heard this later. But at the time, I was only trying to have a nice lunch with Tatyana and her friends. I tried to tell a joke there, and it made Tatyana laugh, but she told me it was in poor taste. She may have been right… The joke was that a traveling salesman goes to a brothel one night and is told he camn get a girl for $5, 10 or 20. he chooses the fiver and goes upstairs. When he knocks on a door, there is a nice looking black lady there, but she won’t take him in unless he agrees to tip her $2. he says no, and is sent to the next room, where another girl agrees and lets him in. twenty years later, he returns to the town and to the house only to find that the girl he was with got pregnant that night and had given birth to a boy. He goes to meet the boy who asks the man’s name. The salesman tells him his name is Koslewski, and this really upsets the boy, who cries, “OH look at my life: Not only is my mother a whore, but my dad is a goddamned Polak!” and to this, the salesman says, “Hey kid, don’t complain: for two dollars more…”

I don’t know, maybe she was right…

After this, I went to go see Victor and Colia at the bike school, and of course, we drank a bit together. Actually, I drank a bit too much. I guess I haven’t been drinking very much lately, and I was a little out of shape for it. We were doing fine through the first bottle or so, but we hadn’t yet found that place of great unity yet, we simply hadn’t gotten to where we were trying to go. So we got some more, and of course, this was the mistake. I thought I was doing fine, because you know after a few vodkas, you really can understand Russian. And even if this last statement is not true, you think that you can. I remember being on my feet and punching the desk with my hands screaming about that bastard Zareba and how, if I knew what lying pigs the Polaks were going to be that I would have hit the kurva harder, but then the room sort of got a bit distorted, and I remember seeing Colia and Sergei (Not the late Sergei, another guy) hugging each other and telling each other what great guys each other was. I remember thinking that it was amazing how much vodka Victor can drink. I told him that I thought that he could drink like he was a fish, but my Russian was off and he thought I was asking him for some fish to eat, and when he offered me some little bit of smoked something, I was on my feet and staggering for the toilet…

Now, I know that people know this, but really, at moments like his, a toilet is a really, really good place to be. I mean, one doesn’t wish to make unnecessary messes that ones friends would be in need of cleaning up. However, without my company, the party changed and the others were ready to start going home. I however would not leave the toilet, “Eto xaroshe mestye, I ne xotchy davaai! Pashaltse, YA zdec, ya dzec!” (This is a great place, I don’t want to go, please, I am here, only here.) And after a few attempts to pull me free by my leg, (I am a pretty big guy and I had a firm grip on that toilet) the others elected to let me stay. Which was grand of them, except that they locked the door behind them (NO other choice) and so I was effectively jailed for the night in the bike locker of the velocipede school.

So its cold here, and by the time I came to, I realized that I was freezing to death, in a pitch black room, and that there was no way to escape. I found some jackets that were left behind by the team to use as a blanket, and used these to make a blanket out of, but it was still pretty bad. In the morning, I was up but still trapped and I had to wait for somebody to let me out. At about 7:30 Victor came by but he didn’t have the key because he doesn’t work for the school any more. So he left and got Sergei, who for some reason came all the way back to the school with Victor only to tell us that he didn’t have the key either. So then the two of them went and got Colia, who did have the key, as well as a soon to be black eye from his five foot tall 95 pound wife. But, it was good to be free and I took the opportunity to clean up and tune my bike with the schools tools. We got some Kefir from the local market and we all talked a bit about the night before. I was advised by the others to say that the reason I was late was that Chechnian terrorists who wanted to rob me for my money had abducted me, tied to a tree, threatened me with all sorts of terrible tortures but that I laughed and spit in their faces. But these guys actually wanted to start drinking again (God help us all) and I was out of there. When I finally got home, everybody was pretty worried about me because I had disappeared from life without a sound. I tried the Chechnian thing, but my heart wasn’t in it. This, and nobody laughed. Well, Victor, Tatyana’s father laughed a bit, but I think this was only because he had used the Chechnian story himself once or twice before.

Sunday was quite slow, and we all just hung around the flat and ate and watched some Russian TV. Everyone took baths because the hot water in the apartment was going to be turned off for a while, either for a week or two months, Tatyana wasn’t too sure. And I played a little guitar quietly just before Igor fell asleep. Today, I am at the theatre and working on my work permit, and this is about all. I guess everything is Ok, but I think I caught some kind of a cold from the vodka, the night in the bike school or… I don’t know… But I am not feeling too well. I went for a 90 minute ride this morning, but it didn’t help much.

At any rate, this is about the news so far. Because the theatre doesn’t have somebody to play her, I am looking for a perfect girl to play Nadia. We have some ideas, and it is going to be a tough job you know, looking for a tall beautiful perfect girl to play Nadia, but I am dedicated and someone has got to do this kind of dirty work.