this is out of order, but most pressing on my mind . . .
Came to St. Petersburg, Russia, to attend the Hermitage Museum. Went this morning . . . had late lunch at Tandoor . . . planning to walk back to the Metro and train back to our hotel . . .
Lunch was very good, with a bottle of wine, so we were pleased with ourselves as we strolled in the thick crowds along Nevsky Prospekt . . . maybe too pleased . . . it was so crowded . . . it is the double holiday of St Cyril & St Methodius in the Czech Republic, maybe it is the same in Russia.
A tiny voice was warning me that my wallet was in my hip pocket instead of a front pocket, so I was thinking about moving it, but the crowd was so thick that I didn't wanna . . . dumbass, dumbass, dumbass . . .
There was a surge against us from behind, crowding us, I felt the predictable tug in my pocket. A skinny hand plunged in my back pocket, palm-away, and raked my wallet out. I half spun and swiped with my hand, caught a t-shirt: "YOU SONUVABITCH!" I yelled, and the white-faced young pup in my grasp cringed in front of me, with my fingers twisted up in his shirt -- he'd been trying to dash past me, I think he was as surprised as I was that he had been caught.
Someone else grabbed me from behind and shouted, "NO! He's not the one," (in English, Note!) so I lost my focus . . . I am not in training, and my awareness was down . . .
I know the drill: the dip, the stall, the mis-direction, and disappear, but I still faltered. When I looked back at the interceder, some fat-shit in a red gimme cap pointed with authority back behind me, and I turned, So then the two rabbits had scarpered . . . so I count 4 in the gang, counting the one my wallet was handed off to, at least . . . if there was a fifth with a shiv, the enforcer, well, that would have been too bad . . . but I grieve how I patsied for them. They got 3000 rubles, 200 euros, and 1500 Crowns, fuck 'em.
I have no recourse except to blog the shit out of this incident, to report that to the momentarily unalert, Nevsky Prospekt is a steaming lair of the predatory . . . that the russian grasp on the difference between enterprise and criminality is incomplete, whether overcharging for mediocre wines and rancid food, or the plethora of bureaucratic nicks & dings one experiences just maneuvering thru the dilapidated society, but most importantly, in the elementary understanding that THEIR freedom ends where MY Nose begins, no matter how lax ones definition of Freedom may be.
All the ravishing blue-eyed young beauties, all the kind, menial clerks that speak English, all the genial, heart-broken, golden-souled men that have crossed our path in these few days, notwithstanding -- this place sucks . . . stinks of oppression, depression, desperation, furtiveness, fear, futility, failure, shabby showiness, and insufficient attention to personal hygeine.
I had just finished reading The Russian Debutante's Handbook this week, which some people claim is a great book, but which troubled me in some unnameable way, but now, but now, I think I may articulate what it is, which is that this book perfectly encapsulates Modern Russia, tho' most of it is libra-ported to Prague and the US, the casual, comical (so-called) criminality up and down the whole spectrum of malfeasance coupled with the cynical contempt of the Normal (so-called) and the Pretentious (so-called) is what disquieted me, and now I find a living example . . . .
silence # 23870 -
5 months ago