That’s right, yesterday I went to a bazaar. It was crazy. Let me tell you why, using my patented numbered list style:
1) Are we still in Kazan? The bazaar was endless. We probably walked a solid 3 miles (in circles and all sorts of parabolic shapes) within the bazaar itself while only occasionally repeating. There were endless rows of stalls, carts, tables, vats (mostly of kvass, blech), cars, wagons, racks, and pretty much any kind of display possible.
2) Personal Space, pt. 2 So many people, so much space – but why use that space? It’s much more fun, after all, to push against people and bump into one another. Don’t you think so? Literally with about three feet of open space on either side of me, a somewhat rotund babushka insisted on shrieking in my ear “malchik!” and tapping on my shoulder so that I would get out of her way. I did, but honestly even with her notable girth two of her could have squeezed in the space next to me. It was ridiculous. And then of course she stopped at the next stall to get some mushrooms – typical.
3) I’m no economist, but…even I know that setting up a stand of dried fruit literally identical to my competition right next to me isn’t the smartest plan. And there was literally a hall of probably 15 dried fruit stands, for all intents and purposes identical (dried apricots, figs, some other fruits, and of course prunes) right next to each other.
4) So this is where you get your heels. One thing I haven’t really touched upon is that, with little exception, women wear high heels here. It’s just what happens. And the bazaar seems to be the origin of those shoes. With the amount of shoes for sale at the bazaar, each child in Africa could probably get 3 pairs of shoes – granted, two out of those three would be 5-inch stilettos, but…
5) Are you actually selling this? Want to buy broken piping? How about used remote controls? Maybe you’re looking for a pair of wooden crutches with different heights? How about some Russian ruble coins? (Like…present-day 5-ruble coins were being sold – for 5 rubles? I don’t know) Perhaps a broken lampshade is what you want. Looking for any of things, or any other useless item? The bazaar is where its at.
6) Other Reasons. Lots of people, wild dogs (of course), kvass, being accosted by aggressive salespersons in Russian, getting lost in the maze, etc.
Today we went on an excursion to Raifa, a monastery about 40 minutes from the city center. There were two highlights of this excursion. One came within the first five minutes of us being there, when we saw one monk literally blessing a car. He was walking around it splashing it with holy water while chanting something in Russian. After he was done, he pulled out his cell phone. What a boss. The other cool thing was seeing this really old monk conversing with two younger women. He was wearing the customary long black cloak but also had some sort of wizard’s hat on his head, a bunch of chains around his neck with crosses in different styles, and then Florida-style old-person sunglasses. This of course, was all in addition to his THREE FOOT LONG WHITE BEARD. The dude was so cool. He also had a cane. I would’ve taken a picture, but that’d be rude…right? The monastery was actually sorta cool and one interesting factoid is that the monastery was turned into a gulag of sorts during the Soviet era. The church was really ornately designed with tons of painted ikons, including one of a suspiciously Russian looking Jesus. The day was dampened a little bit by on-and-off rain and generally overcast skies here. The accompanying humidity, however, felt really nice – its really dry here all the time and it was nice to finally not have dust kick up in my face when a car goes by.
Talking about cars…I had another fun bus experience today. I got on a different bus than the one(s) I normally go on, and it cost me. Turns out I was going the wrong way and we drove into this parking lot where the bus driver got out, pulled out a pack of cigs, and began to smoke, while conversing with other bus drivers doing the same thing. Seeing as I was the only passenger left on the bus, it was somewhat awkward. The fare collector came up to me and asked where I was going and I responded with a (the?) correct answer, I guess, because she nodded and began smoking too. I got to my destination eventually but I spent a solid hour ten minutes on a Sunday morning in the same bus. Fun times.
Anyways, that’s all for me for today. Hope y’all are enjoying your Fourth of July!