Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Cold Showers

I have recently been acquainting myself with the pleasure of cold showers. This is nothing to do with all the sexy Russian ladies, although I did have the unexpected experience this week of being in a bar where some Russian girls stripped to their underwear in order to obtain a free bottle of champagne. Anyway, every Summer the Russians switch off the hot water for 2 weeks. I acknowledged that this would be something of an inconvenience, but with my new toileting-success-inspired lust for life I felt quite optimistic about this situation. Brain freeze ensued. Apparently this is some kind of pagan ritual to welcome the Summer. Or to prepare the ground for the heat or something. 

In other shower related news, I managed to get locked in the shower the other day. Normally I wouldn't be too worried about shower suffocation, but the lack of speed with which Russians undertake any given action or task did make me slightly aware that I may need to make the air last for a few days. It is common for a trip to the post office to buy an envelope to take at least an hour, what with the lack of a defined queuing system, which entails people coming in, announcing that they are next and then leaving again. Also problematic is the legal right of Babushkas to push in front of you at all times.

This is only one of the ways in which the Russians are polar opposites of the Germans. Another is the Russian tendency of fearing that everything will be stolen if it is not fastened to something sturdy with somebody guarding it. Everything in the University is nailed down - except for photocopiers and benches, which seem to roam the corridors at regular intervals. As is the way in Russia to pay people to do jobs which essentially entail doing nothing at all, there is a lady whose sole purpose in life is to wheel the photocopier around the university and watch you making copies whilst taking your money. I recall being puzzled by a newspaper vending machine in Munich which in no way required you to pay before being able to extract the newspaper from it's drawer. My dad said that they just knew people would pay. The Russians would never trust their citizens like this.

My embarrassment at being locked in the shower was unfortunately outshone by the arrival of an American who got so drunk on his first night in Russia that he couldn't work out how to open his door from the inside and proceeded to kick a hole in it. This man is what we call a real ambassador of American intellect.

There are various strange things that I've seen the Russians doing recently. They've been painting everything - even the trees. I accepted that the logical reason for this was that the white paint keeps the parasites from eating the trees, but then i noticed that also painted white are the bottom sections of lampposts and pavements...

Krasnodar is home to an abundance of stray dogs and cats who laze around in the grass, on chairs and just generally look very contented whilst wandering the world. They're also suspiciously well groomed, like those well dressed beggars who you don't quite believe need your money. This may be due to the fact that Russian girls like to feed them and brush them. The dogs, I mean, not the beggars.

Having said this, I have also come across quite a few stray people, such as this man having a snooze next to the road.

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