While learning that food is quite affordable for me here, i also get to know 2 young students from Uzbekistan. They tell me that things were double as expensive in Russia as in their home town Taschkent. We are comparing the cigarette prices and i pay 19 rubles (about 85 Rappen) here. Sacha tells me - standing on the balcony of our Moscow host (tonight only 6 guests, wow, that means loads of space tonight!) in the flat with about 35 degrees celsius. He and his travelbuddy like scandinavian rune inscriptions and would like to visit Norway and Sweden. They ask me how much money you need for travelling there for a month if they only slept in a tent and hitchhiked. I told them 500 euros, a number that for them is unacheivable, unimaginable. They headed off with 1 USD and want to go to Krim in Ukraina. Can you imagine?
The next day they accompanied me to the train station because i had to wait several hours and didnt want to go somewhere else. I asked them why they didnt visit the town (it was still reasonably close to the centre even if they came by foot. They told me thy didnt have money for the metro and walking made them very tired. Of course, that day - it was already 4 in the afternoon - they hadnt even had any water or food. I gave them some money and told them to buy some food and water, because i just couldnt stand this anymore and had to cry. And on top of that, even though they didnt have ANYTHING they would still cook for everybody in the apartment the night before, just as i did the thight there before and share it with all the other traellers.
Have you ever peed black urine? I have. Shortly before the train left, i needed to go to the toilet. The first time this day, in spite of the 30 degrees heat. Toilets are dreadful in Russia. So dirty and you still have to pay. If it only was the smell that would be ok, but there is water and urine everywhere on the floor and its really dirty. The first time i micturated a dark brown liquid. Dehydration is essential here due to the lack of toilets and if you find one its, well as said above, very dirty. You might get infected with some desease. (The fact that eveybody touches eachother every so often in the metro or on the street because there are just too many people who live here in Russia does surely not delight you, neither me)
- let me just throw this thought in here:
Now i understand why you hear so much about people dying of heat in Russia every summer. Walking to the trainstation in Moscow, along the street i see many homless lying on the street, some unconcious, some unable to walk in a dreadful condition, dirty smelly as you have never smelled before. No one cares. They try to get some rubles by begging if their condition allows them. But i guess its these people who are doomed to die in hot summer here. There is no where to go you are exposed to the sun all day, no water available nowhere if you dont have money. I dont want to give them anything becuase i fear they might touch me. That could be any disease. Who knows, this is Russia, anything is possible.
Now i also understand why people live behind 3 iron walls here. And they all have different keys. I came back from shopping for food the other day in Kazan, when i made a shocking experience. Let me tell you about shopping first. The supermarket was only about 5 mins walk away, but it had been raining heavily before. And because the streets are not paved, water runs everywhere, mud, slops... incredible. It took me about one hour until i was back as i had to climb and waddle through the mud. Concentration at my top, in order not to fall into the slop. That would have been a disaster. A shower afterwards is necessary, including my slippers. Anyway, i came back to the building and opened the first door downstairs. A homeless, dirty and smelly woman, almost unconsius, mumbling somthing i could not understand was lying on the stairs blocking the whole gangway. I had to somewhat climb over her and mu disgust and fear to get a disease is heightened again.
You might think i am exaggeratin but let me tell you this. If somebody sneezes here, they do not put their hand before the mouth. And neither when thei cough... yummmmm!
Dont think i was able to get all the things from the shop i wanted to. Dream on! Only the simpliest vegetables and fruit (no bananas today) are available. Well, you get used to it and improvise your meals accordingly.
Its the day 21 of July and i already feel worn out from travelling Russia. You cant imagine unless you have seen it with your own eyes. The conditions in which people live - and they are considered very good - were a ral shock for me. The bathroom: there will be a picture soon.
There are 2 sockets in the entire appartment. One is in the kithen and one in the living rom, where 12 more sockets are attached ( i dont know how that thing is called in english, neither in german). The kitchen: wow luxury they have a microwave oven. Stove with 1 frying pan and one pot. But most people have a washing mashine and they would even use it for one t-shirt only. Wasting energy and water is a must. Also mobile phones are indispensable here. Everybody has one, but internet: they have email adresses but not always internet. Maybe only at work or a very slow connection. But even that is a praise for me. Its common to know somebodys mobile phone number even before you know their name.. they will just call you up and day they are a friend of a friend. So friends give the numbers of friends to people that are completely strangers. Its normal. NARMALNE! Downstairs, of course folks, i am not mentioning the bad smell in the building, the letterboxes are almost all distroyed. Here will be a picture soon:
DO NOT SEND ANY MAIL TO RUSSIA, PEOPLE WILL NOT GET IT!
Travelling is extremely difficult here and complicated. Nobody speaks anything else than russian. If you need to queue for a train ticket, calculate at least half a day for that procedure. As i said before queuing in russian is different, and even if there are only 3 people ahead of you it might still take more than 1 hour until it is your turn. In Kazan i wasted 3 afternoons/evening just for a train ticket. It was just too difficult to get. Once we got one but then discovered that the date was chosen wrongly by the seller. Now all of you think that they would change it for free. NIET! Its our mistake. My friend Renata says "The seller is always right, "Its you against the system" We pay the fucking 100 rubles and change it. Of course Renata communicates with the seller as i have lost my temper long time ago... So, fatality is a common and widely accepted thing in Russia. Its just like that, and we cant change it...- so the peoples attitude. Renata is 22 and lives with her parents and grandma. She needs to work, so she can support her parents. Without her, they would never be able to make a living and pay all the bills. They cant afford fruit as tehy are expensive but she will bring me some and more presents every day. Also, she insists on paying the bus tickets everytime as " you are a guest and travelling, you need the money for travelling" Telling her that i am vegan is out of question.
She would like to go abroad but come back for 2 reasons if i got it correctly: a) supporting her family with money and b) marry and get kids in Russia because if Russian people do not get kids, the number of Russians in the world will decrease. If you look at the crammed metro, supermarkets and streets during rush hour, you dont really understand why they want to become even more people.
I dare to find out how it is because Renata told me that the conditions are terrible. No paved roads and maybe no water inside the house. Later, i had the chance to go and see a russian village and swimm in the lake. It was an experience:
We had planned to head off at 9am and one friend of a friend (again) called Tanja would pick me up. Fine, my western style brain told me i get up at 8 and will be ready at 9am. At 7.45am Tanja calles me and said that her father, the driver, was ready and if they could come and pick me up. I said " no, i just woke up (because she called me) and i could make it 8.30am. Ok, nothing bizzare in this yet.
10 phone calls later and 30 mins later we are waiting at the bus stop where i was supposed to be picked up. Despite of them being in such a hurry, they only turn up at 9am... so what did we say?
The day had only started but i was already exhausted.
Riding 5 people in a fairly new Lada in Russia brings some comfort. The motor risks overheating, therefore we need to switch on the heating inside. Remember it is 28 degr outside 9am in the morning already. We finally got to "california" as they call it - the village and drive through the village. Sany road, water pipes go along the street, above the ground next to the car. Rusty of course! In the middle of the forrest, we find 2 apartment buildings in which their friends live. I got to taste the russian food - mhh delish but full of butter of course. Anyway its only margarine my host says after 30mins... again fatality and denial.. I had diarrhoea the next day.
We then ride through the forrest to the lake where we are supposed to go swimming. Sandy, winding road, sometimes all muddy where you have to detour through the forrest, improvised road. I asked if they had a spare tire with them and they replied yes. Because our driver did not remember exactly where it was, the friend has to join us. (no signs and many winding roads)
Riding 6 people people in a fairly new Lada in Russia brings some comfort. Especially in that heat and in the forrest. Normal tyres. On they way back one tire goes flat and we have to change it. They didnt even have the right tools for that, so we spend an hour there. I dont understand why they didnt simply ask a more modern car that was passing (much traffic) for help.
Back in the village, we get more food that was also delish. But we need to hurry, because we need to be back soon. I try to express my utter thankfulness and praise the grandmas cooking skills. She seems delighted and invited me back.
One hour in the traffic jams of the city and i am back. But i think it has done me good. I have never been more easy going i guess. And always prepared for anything! This is russia, anything can happen!