Russia is definitely not capitalist. Whoa! What are you telling me! What about glasnost? What about Gorbachev? Well, one slap in our face when we arrived was that it is going to take one hell of a long time for the age-old communist ways to slowly fade away (or resurge, as the case may be).
We actually had to figure out how to buy stuff. The purchasing system in the soviet-style shops is more complicated that most birdís mating systems. And given that none of the staff ever learn another language (which is understandable) and never smile or even attempt to help anyone (which is definitely not understandable), life can be quite challenging.
There were cases where dealing with the Russian shops scared me so much we just had to eat at McDonalds or something. Or in the worst case, like it was two days before we left, I almost exploded and wanted to kill any Russian who worked in the service industry. What happens to these babushkas? As soon as theyíre behind a counter, look out! Bitch woman! But the Russians you meet on the street, and we met a few, were always extremely pleasant. I know there is some deep routed sociological conclusion here.
The markets were also quite weird. The available products are packed into the entire window space except for a tiny sliding window at waist height where all transactions occur. After a couple of weeks I donít know how we avoided back strain injury. Actually, that configuration also makes it difficult to buy something when you donít speak the language. How do you possibly point at something when they obviously can not see you hand? All they can see is about four square inches centered around your belly button.
Next Image: Summer Garden
Russia Main Page