Wednesday, September 01, 2004

update from moscow.

having some trouble with email posts. anyone know why that might be? i'm emailing from my regular address but from the java client...although i don't think i've had problems with that previously.

-----Исходное сообщение-----
От: Rose, Scott
Отправлено: Ср 01.09.2004 8:16

dearest friends and happenstance visitors,

first and foremost, i was not at or anywhere near the rizhskaya metro station suicide bombing, although i heard that hunter from middlebury was right there. he's also ok. also, i am not being held hostage in the south, which i just heard about. i don't really have any details on that yet, you can probably find out more on the internet about it than anyone here in russia will. so especially for the parents: remember everytime a dozen people get killed in moscow, the chances are pretty good i wasn't one of them. also i'll be in yaroslavl by the weekend, which hasn't to my knowledge had to deal with any of this chechen crap.

a few points of interest from my day or so in moscow (i'm in a hotel right next to the arbat, the long touristy walking section with over priced restaurants, kiosks and vendors). Russian newspapers do not hesitate to show graphic photos on front pages. The copy of the (english) moscow times i'm looking at now has what would be to his former acquaintances, a very recognizable photo of a dead man and a couple mangled cars. while everyone gripes about freedom of the media (and reasonably so) in russia, americans would do well to remember that if our newspapers showed realistic photos from Iraq, the war wouldn't be so damn fun for everyone.

crossing a street in moscow is incredibly perilous. i'm told it's much worse than in new york city, and i can assure everyone that it's at least 3 or 4 times more difficult than in Middlebury, VT (where it often suffices to listen both ways rather than look both way). apparently it's something one has to get the hang of - you can end up stranded in the middle of a street (4 or 5 wide lands) with cars whipping past you at 40-50 and upwards miles per hour. this is frightening to the casual new england participant.

an interesting anecdote that i had heard before, and really sums up a lot of what i understand getting by in russia to be: When NASA first started sending astronauts into space, they quickly discovered that ballpoint pens don't function in zero gravity. To solve this, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion dollars (just think, if they'd just set it aside and let it apperciate some where, we could be funding another war by now) developing zero gravity pens. my grandparents got me one last christmas, actually. they can write on almost any surface and in tempatures from below freezing to 300 degress celsius.

the russians used a pencil.

and so i hope to learn to overcome the smaller challenges. my lost bag still hasn't shown up, so i'm wearing unfortunately warm clothes around unfortunately warm moscow. i'm told that it will be cooler by the weekend at the latest (when i'll be in yaroslavl anyway).

what else. a few notes on, of course, alcohol. there are no open container laws in moscow, and beer is widely available from kiosks on the streets. wine and alcohol you actually have to go into a store for, although there are (i haven't seen any yet) walk in restaurants where you can order a shot of vodka, pay for it, and leave. there are ups and downs to all of this, of course. in russia beer isn't considered 'alcohol,' but rather some sort of broadly and mysteriously more preferred soda (two oat sodas, gary.) and, although there are a lot of the popular 'imports' that we see in america, most of the russian beers have much higher alcohol percentages than american beer. i tried a bottle of три богатыря (i think that's how it's spelled) last night, and was surprised to discover halfway through that it was 11%. we had to pretty much abandon the arbat by 11 o'clock because all the other tourists were gone, and the russians remaining were getting pretty boisterous.

i'm looking forward to getting to yaroslavl though because most everyone in shops here speaks at least some english, and when they hear my accent they just answer me in english regardless of how decent my grammar was. in yaroslavl that won't be a problem. i think we're going to see red square tonight, and i'm still hoping to get in touch with roman/emma/natasha and whomever else is in moscow. hunter? anton? iskandar? gosha? i heard you guys might be around, but there is little chance you are reading this.

ok. my time seems to be expiring. write me emails - i'd love to hear from you guys and i'll be able to answer my mail more leisurely in yaroslavl where there is an internet cafe right near where i live with broadband. also it costs about a dollar an hour, which is spectacular. it's about a dollar for twenty minutes here, which by and standards isn't terrible either. in the "VIP" section (about 30 cents more per 20 minutes) they have big comfy couches.

also re: yarsoslavl, i found out the details of my living situation, which sound excellent. more on that when i actually meet her, but i'm told she's a middle aged woman who isn't home much and is relatively better about giving students their space. also she supposed has a big (russian standards...) appartment with a 5-10 minute walk to the university/transportation/ and basically everything inthe center. i'm gettibng booted

so long for now!