Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Cry for Me, America

While living in a different country, I have learned that it is the little victories that make being here worthwhile. When someone approaches you on the street and asks you for you directions and you accurately tell them where to go in Russian, or maybe when you receive your food at a restaurant and notice that you got exactly what you asked for; these are some small victories. I recently achieved one of these small victories: I know the cause of global warming. Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that Russia, in an act of defiance over the U.S. supporting Georgia, is stealing all of the world's cold weather and concentrating it in St. Petersburg. Obviously, president turned environmental activist Al Gore has never visited Russia. If so, he would have realized that global warming would be all too convenient.

In all seriousness, it is getting cold here. The weather maxes out in the high 40s, and the sky has already abandoned the prospect of sunshine, favoring a dull gray that fits the cityscape all too suitably. Thankfully, the Russians have fought their unfortunate climate by making their buildings stand out. For example, the building below is my school's campus. I study in one of the complex's buildings that is located about thirty yards behind Smolny Cathedral. It is no Paris-Yates, but it definitely brightens your day while walking to school.

Though the weather has been a bit of a downer, it has picked up into the 60s this week, which veritably changes the way I view life. Today, after class, a couple of my classmates and I went walking through a park near the school, and we quickly found ourselves laying on the grass with all of our outerwear off ("sun's out; gun's out" rule applied). St. Petersburg can carry a very stilted demeanor when mixed with cold weather. The wind bites and so does the city. This immediately changes with the weather, though. Today, as we were in the park, not only did the city seem more inviting, but the people also did. People on the street occasionally break into a smile, a luxury in Russia reserved for private company only.

I am actually writing this while sitting outside of "The Other Side," one of the city's ex-pat bars and my favorite haunt. Not only do they have free wi-fi (a rare find in this city) but they also have CHIPS AND SALSA...CHIPS AND SALSA. It can't be reiterated enough, because this has become a very important comfort food for me. So, while in St. Petersburg, I can facebook all of my people in Oxford, hear people speak English, and eat chips and salsa, all while listening to music exclusively from the United States (everything from one of the songs from "Jungle Book" to Feist to "We Didn't Start the Fire").

I'll post more later (more expedient than last time) because the dinner crowd is rolling in and I know my kazyaika is waiting on me.


Emily Claire said...

вызовите меня

Michael Malenfant said...

Giving directions is a great feeling. Of course if you were an Argentine you would give directions whenever asked, even if you had no idea where the place is. Happens all the time.
Chips and dips are legit, but I highly recommend trying to find a place with buffalo wings.

25 Days A Week said...

My friend and I were also walking around in the sun (specifically in the Summer Garden) and discussing how people were just happier with better weather.

will said...

Actually Russia did start the fire and it wasn't always burning.

Michael Malenfant said...

McDonalds is cultural imperialism at its best.

Jonathan Peeples said...

After spending my formative years in the Motherland (may of which were in a Soviet gulag (Russian for "discotheque")), I've developed three pieces of advice which are essential to the survival of all neo-communist expatriates. They are:

1) Embrace the bath houses

2) Whenever you get depressed watch Krzysztof Kieślowski's "The Decalogue"

3) Beware dark alleys for they are the home of Zangief and Ivan Drago