Today was Sunday, obviously. Sundays for us here in Kazan is a free day – no programming, just time to do whatever. Some folks headed off to their host family’s dacha (country home, essentially, although it has a really undefinable connotative meaning) for the weekend, so they were out of town, so to speak. I spent the day doing a little bit of everything. I tried to sleep in (didn’t work – wild dogs + construction = not sleeping past 7) to get the full Lazy Sunday effect, but to no avail. Instead, I walked for 25 minutes to the Metro and took it to the city center. I spent some time milling around the Mall that seems to be a pretty big hotspot before departing with a “groupmate” of mine for the Kremlin, which was about a 20-25 minute walk, but well worth it. The Kremlin here in Kazan, as I’ve pointed out before, has lots of historical significance. One aspect of that significance is its symbolism of coexistence. The Kremlin is home to both a mosque and a Russian Orthodox church; its buildings have both the flag of the Russian Federation and the Autonomous Republic of Tatarstan. It’s farthest point also provides a breathtaking view of the Kazanka River, a small tributary of the Volga (which I still haven’t seen…). It’s just a really cool place. After visiting the Kremlin, we walked back to the mall to cool off and to grab some “voda bez gaza” (uncarbonated water, a real treat here in Russia). We ran into two other “groupmates” and decided to go to McDonald’s to people-watch and possibly make some Russian friends. We were there for about two hours, chomping on Chicken MacNuggets (pronounced “cheekin Mahknoogeets” po Russki), kartoshki (potatoes, aka fries), and sipping on Coca-Cola with ice (another treat here)! We didn’t meet any new friends, but we definitely had a good time just hanging out. After that I went to my host brother’s “magazine” (his shop), where we actually just closed down and played FIFA ’10 on a neighboring store’s XBox – he (Russia) beat me (Houston Dynamo, represent!) 3-2 on a sorta bogus goal, and then I (LA Galaxy) defeated his friend (as some Turkish League team), showing off some American FIFA dominance. We left his store with another of his friends and went for a “stroll” – the word “to stroll” essentially has become the word “to hang out” here in Russia – to a rival store, where we spied on their prices and received nasty glares from employees. We left and watched some Russian breakdancers for a little bit – they were actually sorta good, but their music was really bad. Some dude with a petition came up to us and my host brother and his friend signed. I went to sign, but my host brother stopped me. I told him it was fine – and signed as “Abraham Lincoln (Абрахам Линкон) from the “gorod” (city) of “Vashington.” The guy just said “Vashington? Americanetz?” (Washington? American?) and I said yes. He left, and my host brother and I cracked up. Had to be there, maybe?
Anyways, that was my Sunday. Hope to get some pics up soon, there just isn’t really an internet place anywhere near me. Expect some this week though.