Sunday, September 18, 2011
izmaylovo market + street smarts.
russia has been crazy! i haven't had a moment to blog or upload photos really, but i wanted to make a quick note on today.
i have been very lucky to make several russian friends who have been awesome guides, but today i went to izmaylovo market with one of the guys who is staying at the hotel. he is also from nyc, so one would think he'd have some common sense... this proved to be a very wrong assumption. at the end of the day i asked him if he generally travels with a guide or in a group, because it was apparent he was not solo-travel savvy. and russia is not a good place for that.
i should have known better when we were on the metro and he had a mini freakout when we missed our stop and wanted to get out and take a taxi back to the hotel instead of taking the train back one stop. actually, i should have known better when he said that he hadn't left his hotel room except to go to the kremlin one afternoon. either way, i should have known better. when he wanted to go back to the hotel via taxi, i told him he was welcome to go, but that i was going to stay on course for the market adventure. he grudgingly agreed, and later admitted he was impressed that i was so efficient with the metro. (he's from nyc! i mean... if you can figure out the subway in nyc, you can figure it out anywhere! maybe he's never taken the subway... i was afraid to ask) did i mention he is also black? i haven't had a chance to write on this yet, but there aren't many black people in moscow and NO black women. literally, none. and every. single. person. stares at me everywhere i go, especially on the metro. it has been interesting. so anyway, imagine this times two... and imagine the reaction when he starts filming people when we got on the train. he took out his video camera and started filming people! and they did not like it... and he did not notice!
fast forward to the above photo. we had been walking through the market for a couple of hours and we got to the very back, which was deserted of shoppers for the most part... and there was this guy sleeping. i quietly took a photo and walked on. a few seconds later, i heard a commotion, and turned around to see nyc guy conspicuously shooting video of the guy who had been asleep... the guy didn't like it, and started shouting and getting physical with him. his shouting had attracted several other vendors and who came running to his aid... then, out of the corner of my eye, i saw some other guys coming towards us... they didn't appear to be vendors... they did appear to be looking for trouble. nyc guy didn't realise how the situation was unfolding and continued to take his time with his camera... i started to get nervous, because i don't speak russian and even if i did, it wouldn't matter; there were about 10 or so men ready to fight... i didn't want to leave nyc guy there, so i put my phone to my ear, and with as much urgency as i could, i started talking quickly and motioning toward nyc guy saying 'we have to go... it's time to go.' i called him 'john' which was not his name, hoping he would understand that we were in a bad situation and needed to get back to where there were more people. he kind of brushed me off and allowed the vendor to lead him back behind the hat display. (!!) by this time i was beginning to get nervous... i just kept talking my phone, urgently, as steady loud as i could, and demanding 'john' come help me. i think they didn't know what you make of me, and in the confusion, nyc guy pulled out a wad of american dollars, gave them to the vendor, and i practically dragged him back into the busier area. he was like 'what? what? it was fine, i had money, i had it under control.' he hadn't even noticed the other guys closing in, waiting for a fight... when i told him about them, he was like, 'it would have been fine, i would have given them money.' i was like, 'they didn't care about money or the vendor; they were looking for trouble with you.' he was like, 'really?' um... yes!
DUUUUUDE! you are in russia... like... have a little more common sense!
i suppose i should have had a little more common sense and noticed that the crowd was thinning and we should get back to a busier area. but...
when we got back to the metro, i was like, you also might want to be careful filming people on the train. he was like 'maybe you are right. we got back on the train and he was at it again.
this time i pretended like we weren't together.