Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weekend of Crime and Punishment

On Saturday, we had classes because Monday and Tuesday are federal holidays and the schools will be closed. So the government/college admin decided to have language classes on Saturday. It was okay, just kind of sad going to classes (not so) bright and early. And the weather was horrible. However, we did get to show of teacher Dr. Seuss.

That was entertaining. One of the girls in my class had “Oh the Places You’ll Go” with her. Victoria (my teacher) saw a typical Dr. Seuss animal (large green furry thing sticking up from a manhole) and said it was a mix between a hippo and a giraffe. Later on as she is reading it, she says, “This is so happy. Why?” And we tried to explain to her that children books are supposed to be happy and uplifting.

Then I asked her if there were any happy Russian movies. Or movies that had happy endings. She referred me to Soviet movies where at the end the boy and girl would have steadfast faces, looking brightly to the future. She said if you are happy that means that you are satisfied, and if you are satisfied then you won’t work to improve your life. While that makes a little more since, than they just don’t like happy endings. Even if it stinks higher than Heaven.

After class, we had an optional walking tour with Misha to go to Dostoevsky’s house and neighborhoods of Crime and Punishment. To was freezing and only 7 of us went (which turned out to be a good thing). By the end of the tour we couldn’t feel feet (in side our winter boots). We started off right when we got off the metro at Sennaya Ploshchad (which means Hay Square- and you guessed it, it was essentially a hay-market back in Dostoevsky’s time in the slums. This would be where the main char of C&P confessed to the murders. It is also, where he wanders around for a good part of the book. Misha then told us that this is still not a good area to be in after 10:30 PM.

He then took us to a bridge over the canal with the most turns in St. Pete where more action happened. Then he showed us where Dostoevsky lived when he wrote Crime and Punishment and where the main character lived in his books. We can find these places because he gave actual addresses in the book. We were able to go into the courtyard of the main character’s house due to a kind babushka who let us in. Then we went to see where Sonya (the main woman char of the book) should have lived based on descriptions.

We stopped a few times for Misha to explain some good history things about St. Pete (like there was a decree saying that you couldn’t build higher than 3 stories & if you had black on your house you had a higher tax). We then went to the house where he killed the old woman, and where he hid the goods. Apparently in the staircase that they call in memory of the main character, people write little memos to the main character (like “Theres another old woman” or “Good job man”).

Then Misha wanted to show us a different side of St. Pete that you don’t usually get to see. Apparently for the 300 year anniversary of the city, the city spruced up the outside of buildings. He had stopped us in front of a beautiful building, bright colors and pretty white carvings. Then we went inside. In the US the building would have been destroyed, or if it wasn’t destroyed then it would have not allowed anyone to live here or even come in. I’m sure some of the walls were still damaged from WW2. We didn’t want to touch anything, and then Misha made sure to tell us not to touch anything (which when a Russian guy is telling you not to touch something, it is bad).

But people still lived here. He then took us to another like building, but this one was slightly nicer, not much, but slightly. There are either multiple families living in one half of a floor, or one family living there. I’m also sure that some of these people got these apartments in 1991 as well.

After the walking tour, we defrosted in a little cafĂ© (that wasn’t that good drink wise but had a really yummy croissant with chocolate inside. After that Teremok (blini stand), and I tried to get a real food blini and they just don’t do those good. I like the sweet blinis of cabbage blinis better.

Went back to the dorms and ended up talking to Kori for about an hour, since we hadn’t hung out in a while. I wanted to recommend some places to her in Prague.

There was sun! This is a big deal.

We went to Dostoevsky’s last apartment, where he died for a tour. It was cool. They had refurbished everything how it would/could have been in his time there. He was surprisingly a good father (one has to wonder with the uplifting messages of his books). But he smoked 50 strong cigarettes a day. He died of emphazema (SP?). And his wife later died of lung problems.

After the apartment, a few of us went to a local church and got to see part of a wedding ceremony in Russian Orthodox. It was neat, never thought I would get to see that. The church was also really cool. There were beautiful paintings sill preserved and frescos.

Next we went to a little market that the Katherines had told us about. And it was okay, but really expensive. They did have more exotic things that the regular supermarkets.

When I got back to my stop I went to Karusel (carousel) because they have good prices and a cheap card to get cheaper prices. And they are within walking distance of my homestay.

After dinner, I went back to the dorms where we were having a late Halloween party for ourselves and to show other international students what Halloween was all about. Someone had made cider and popcorn and little sugar cookies. It was really fun. I went as a nesting doll. We also had the KGB, Euro Trash, a mummy, a Pharaoh, a Christmas lamp, a cat, Sally (? The girl from The Nightmare before Christmas)and people just wearing masks. It was a really good time.

Was spent enjoying my day off by relaxing and watching movies in Russian. I am planning on going to see the new James Bond this Thursday to see Bond in Russian (I mean it was partially filmed here, so we have to go see it right?).

Tomorrow, I want to try to go out to the naval base here to see the cool cathedral and where lots of important things happened. We also have an opera tomorrow night. It is “Eugene Onegin” by Pushkin (well, he didn’t write the opera, but you get the idea).

See y’all around the globe!

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