Finally, books

Cleaning water bottles

Yekaterinburg isn't the most exciting place to be. Still, there is some culture in the city and I decided to take a look at two of the city's museums. Before 12 noon, I had seen both. The fine arts museum has a big collection of massive cast iron works and, although ugly, its quite impressive. In addition they have a large collection of paintings and I wandered where they got the many old Dutch masters. The history museum isn't interesting at all. Even the ladies that work there seem to think so, since, when I was there, all had clustered together in the wardrobe to discuss current events. I basically raced through that museum.

Temperature luckily had picked up again and, although in the morning it had been very chilly, it was now some 25 degrees. As I was enjoying the sun on the steps of the local music academy, a young fellow came up to me, asking for a light. It was soon obvious that I was foreign, and we started a conversation. Sacha, studying to become a singer told me a bit about the city and then sang a song for me which he had composed and written himself. It was quite good, although it reminded me a lot of Take That. Furthermore, I wandered why the English in his song was so much more developed then the English he used in conversation.

To kill time for the rest of the day I read some English books I had picked up at the 'Friendship' bookstore. I now carried quite a couple of translated Russian books and also the collected works of Oscar Wilde! In the bookstore, the owner, an older but still good looking and English speaking woman, tried to, more or less, sell her daughter to me (who was very shy but also very beautiful). When I mentioned that I was already leaving the next day she started considering whether she could change her plans to let me go out with her daughter that same evening, since they had planned to go someplace that same night. I wouldn't have objected in taking her daughter out, but mom figured that in one evening it would be hard for her daughter to install a need with me for her. Alas, I had to spend the night alone, again.

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When in Moscow, I had seen the movie Blade on video. One voiceover was doing all the characters and you could still hear the original soundtrack underneath. I figured the same would be the case here, in cinemas so, bored as I was, I went to see Entrapment. The pricing system is really remarkable. In the morning you can get in for under $1. Then, as the day gets older, the entrance fee gets higher. In the evening, a show costs up to $4. Quite a big difference! Anyhow, the movie was dubbed pretty well, all characters having their own voiceover and if it wasn't for me already knowing the plot, it would simply have been impossible to understand what the movie was about.

When walking back to my hotel I took a busy street as to avoid a possible mugging or worse. I'm not sure why I did this, since I do have a feeling that Russia, in relation to petty crime, is safer than any Western country. Not in spite of, but because of Mafia. It is my guess that Mafia wants to control its turf to the max, and that leaves no room for uncontrolled petty crime. If someone needs to be robbed, they decide who, when and where and since the average Russian doesn't have much to have robbed from him, Russia is a reasonably safe place. That is, for all accept business men. Since they definitely do not fall in the 'petty' area but can mean big business. In effect, crime in Russia does take place, but on higher levels mostly, not on the streets. This idea, in addition, is staffed by the fact that, even until late at night, women alone or in small groups still can be found walking through deserted and sometimes dark areas to get home.

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