A scary moment in Yekaterinburg

What's for lunch?

The next day, with a book in hand, I had decided to read until it was time for my train to leave (although I finished Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s excellent and scary ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ in two hours, I was lucky to have more books on hand). Drinking gin-tonic, I basically waited for the time to pass by. As my train wasn’t leaving until sometime late in the afternoon, and I had to leave my hotel room quite early, I saw Yekaterinburg’s main square (where I had decided to read and wait) get busier as the hours passed.

The outside bar where I was sitting got more and more crowded and, at some point, this long legged, quite nice, Russian girl started flirting with me. Making it apparent that she had an interest in me, but wanting me to make the first move. I thought about it, but had second thoughts almost immediately, expecting not to be able to communicate through a language barrier and me having to leave in several hours anyway.

After some time, she shifted her attention to a bloke that was on another table next to me and, after some time, he took the bait. For some time, they started to have a reasonably lively conversation. They moved to one table and some time later, after each had gone off for several minutes to do something I couldn’t possibly determine, they both left. Together.

As the square got more busy, two drunken youngsters asked me whether they could sit at my table. They both had had their portraits drawn (something Russians are very fond of) and just had to show the drawings to me. Both where quite drunk and incoherent but one of the two was very drunk and also looked a bit more sinister. When he asked whether I was Armenian, I figured it might not be the wisest move to say I originally came from Iran and denied the middle eastern connection. I kept on insisting I was from the Netherlands. That, however, was a bad move.

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When I was in Russia, the ‘thing’ with Kosovo and Russians being cheated out of being the strongest fraction in former Yugoslavia by NATO, had just happened and quite a lot of Russians had gotten quite upset about this (its all a macho thing, but touches them right in the soul). So when the sinister guy, Yevgeni, learned I was from the Netherlands, a NATO country, he got quite upset. Luckily, he remained very drunk.

Since he really didn’t speak anything besides Russian (and even that pretty bad, because of the alcohol’s influence on him) I could pretend not understanding a thing he was saying. Then, at some point, he reverted to sign language. He pointed to himself, pointed to me, as if to make a gun with his fingers and then pulled the trigger. Starting to feel to severity of the situation, I friendly pleaded for help in translation from two lovely young girls sitting just a table away.

It took some time, but both turned out to speak a bit of English. And the one with the littlest English knowledge invited me to sit at their table ("You better sit with us"), which I promptly did. Then, they tried, unsuccessfully, to get the two drunks off to someplace else. Meanwhile, some people on the terrace had started to get involved and where complaining against the really drunk guy for his behavior. Meanwhile, Masha, the girl speaking the least English, had written down on a piece of paper: "He is crazy". I had no hard time agreeing.
Then, after some time, she said that it was best for me to come with them. And how can you refuse a fifteen year old virgin?

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Small talk

We strolled around the park a bit and struck up a few small conversations with several people the girls knew, before taking a car to a pub close to the train station. Masha had to point out that we were driving in the very first model of the Lada. I showed my mild surprise that she actually knew such a thing, and then she started to point out all the Ladas that drove by and mentioning which model (the 3rd, the 9th, the 5th, etc) they where. When asked why she actually knew this, she just said: "Of course I know this, it is Russian history!"

In the pub, several of their friends had their main meeting point (including both their boyfriends – darn!). With the whole group, about 8 people, we spoke enough English, German and Russian, to talk about movies, Yugoslavia, music, Chechnya (one of them had fought there, him showing us his scars and a tattoo, above his wrist, of his blood type) and life in general, to have a really entertaining afternoon. When the time came up for me to leave, I really felt sorry.

The whole group thought it necessary to walk me to the train and, besides it being very friendly and nice, it was also very useful, since we walked their much faster than I would have by myself, having to find the right platform to leave from for example. When we got to the platform, my train was already leaving!
I quickly jumped on (although the provodnik was heavily cursing me for doing so), waved goodbye and started looking for my cabin.

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