Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St Petersburg and the Handicapped

All is well in my quaint town of Vladimir. Though it seems as if the ACTR students in St Petersburg are having a bit more of an adventure. Last week four students (two guys and two gals) were in a bar having a good time. A drunk Russian man approached them and bought them drinks (to celebrate the birth of his son). After a while the Russian kept hitting on one of the American girls. This lead to a fight. One American boy broke his nose and the other one hurt his wrist. The bartender then ejected the Russian from the bar. A short while later the Russian returned and shot the bartender. This lead to the Americans fleeing. Nobody seems to know if the bartender died.
This sort of thing happens in the US too, so it is not really a Russian cultural note. Maybe this is just American culture rubbing-off on the Russians...
Speaking of American culture rubbing-off: My host lady told me that she was going to a party on Saturday afternoon. When she returned, she was able to proudly show me the free piece of Tupperware that she was given. It was accompanied by a catalogue. She was nearly shocked when I told her that I was already familiar with the concept of a Tupperware party.
Aside from that, life is coming along. I am continuously surprised by how the Russian adapt to the cold weather. I haven't seen a baby stroller in a couple of weeks. Instead, you see babies bundled in sleds sliding around town, being dragged by their mothers.
This past weekend I was invited to go cross-country skiing with some friends. They said that it is about 40 roubles ($1.85) to rent skis and boots and to go skiing in the forest for a couple of hours. I will probably go next weekend.
A down side of all of the snow is how tremendously slick the roads, sidewalks and steps are. I have taken a spill more than a few times. I cannot imagine how many injuries most occur as a result of the ice every year.
On Sunday, after church, a friend asked if I would be willing to help an elderly lady back to her apartment. She has very little mobility with her feet. So I rode with him as we drove her to her apartment. We then led her inside the entrance of the apartment building. As is typical in Russia, there are no elevators. My friend (who is about my age) went and got a wood chair from her apartment. When he brought it back we sat her on the chair as we carried her the seven flights of stairs to her apartment. This is how she gets too and from church on Sundays.
After all of the laws for the handicapped that we have enacted in the US (ie Americans with Disabilities Act, etc) it is amazing that Russia lacks any accommodations. Additionally, the sidewalks and steps don't seem to be shoveled very often (though the statue of Lenin is cleared of snow after every snowfall).
I am also excitedly working on a theory. I have also noticed that whenever it is cold I see a lot more of two things: Drunk people and black eyes. I am willing to assert that there is a direct corollary between the weather getting cold and so people drink more. The effect of people drinking more is that there are more fights. I haven't begun the literature review for this study, but I will keep you posted.
Hope all is well! Poka!

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