Tuesday, September 14, 2004

and sure enough

i return.

i mentioned how in moscow you can see tremendously expensive cars (and virtually only tremendously expensive cars) all over the center of the city. in yaroslavl', it's something of a different story - the vast majority (by my eye) of cars in the city are russian models (esp. lada), and while there are some foreign cars they tend to be more moderately priced than the luxury models racing through moscow.

however. there is, i'm discovering, a very certain and visible contingent of mafiosi (and/or new russians) in yaroslavl' and with them it's more or less the same idea as in moscow. if you're not familiar with the idea of 'new russians', do a google search for some jokes, and you'll quickly get the idea. anyhow, we ended up in hotel cafe (Европа) on one of the main streets in yaroslavl', outside of which was parked a line pricey cars with all but tinted windshields. and tinted in russia isn't like tinted in the back of the american SUV - i think this sort of tinted is against the law in most parts of the US.

anyway we spent the better part of this evening in a crowded cafe next to two (easily) 400 lb men who were paying for their beers with 1000 ruble notes and being generally (by yarsoavl' standards) extravagant. one of the pair was missing the bettter part of one of his fingers. the whole affair was almost funny in that it all so resembled the hollywood image of mafiosi, which is all russian mafiosi have to base their image on.

...that said, I bought a leather jacket, which i never would have though of doing back home, and i'm going out of my way to blend in. i'm not wild about the whole affair, but as i'm often out late it's more a security thing than a matter of 'fitting in.' and if i'm going to be running around the city taking digital photos...well...that's already a different matter. for example, i had to try to figure out a discreet way to take a picture of the big lenin statute in 'red square' (in front of my university) tonight because no matter where i stood i was in someone's way. either tonight, if i get ambitious on the way home, or tomorrow i'm going to do the walk along the volga and take pictures of the churches/parks/monuments etc there.

so that's all for now. hopefully more pictures soon. i'm currently in the process of finding a regular yaroslavl' state university course that fits my middlebury course schedule. this is a nightmare. i spent the better part of today walking between the history department and the building where middlebury's offices are located trying to find something that fits. the consensus was that, while classes started two weeks ago, i shouldn't worry about it because the schedule is going to be changing for at least another week and i'm not going to know which classes i'll be able to take for a while yet.

almost everything works better here with resigned fascination.