Jazz Bridge Journal Post #6: Passing thoughts

Posted on December 17, 2011

0


I never realized how weak the handles on plastic bags were before..  It is now clear to me they were not designed to serve as luggage.  Next time I’ll bring an LL Bean or a book bag to tote around the city carrying the miscellaneous stuff that is overflowing my backpack.

****************************************************************************

The blue and red indicators on the water taps here really matter.  I discovered this because the hot water in Katia and Yefgeny’s apartment is scalding.  I am quickly breaking my habit at home which is to  just turning on whichever one is handy and work it out from there.

****************************************************************************

When you unbolt the heavy iron security door and walk into this apartment building, it’s like you are walking through what seems like a thick cloud of smoke.  I finally realized yesterday that it is steam, rising from the concrete floor, which is what happens when you go from a minus-30 degrees climate to a plus-30 degrees climate.  The inside of said iron door has a half-inch layer of frost like the interior of an old freezer.

****************************************************************************

Definition of central heating: no thermostat in your apartment. Apparently these old Soviet buildings have one heat control, so the temperature in any particular room is never up to you.  I’m not sure who makes the decisions about temperature, but I guess I should be grateful they favor the swelteringly hot.  However, it makes whether or not to wear long underwear a tricky question.

****************************************************************************

Not that I have become an expert, but I get the impression that Russian vodka sneaks up on you. Even for a non-drinker like me it goes down smoothly and makes you feel happy and convivial.  My suspicion is that you don’t even notice you’re getting hammered.  And with the toasts coming as thick and fast as they were last night at the birthday party/jam session we played following Zakharov’s concert, there is no way you could keep tabs on how many shots you have had.  I had two.  But I was a novice and performing most of the time  Most of the military band musicians who made up the party ended the night still at the cheerful stage, but I saw the hammer come down on a couple of them.  They were asleep in the lobby chairs when we left the building.

****************************************************************************

I’ve noticed that almost every Russian man has short hair.  It’s a little thing, but at home long hair kind of signifies a point of view. When you don’t see it anywhere around, it’s hard to tell if the point of view is equally absent.  In the US, people wear their allegiance on their t-shirts, their tattoos, their piercings, hairstyles and bumper stickers. I’m not sure where to look for it in Russians.

****************************************************************************

I know it’s politically incorrect, but I am loving the fur coats here. When it is as cold as it is in Khabarovsk, wearing the fur of animals seems like a totally appropriate notion.  And there are so much fur on so many different types of people that it loses the stigma of class and affluence.  With the variety of colors in the hats and the coats, it makes a pretty stunning fashion statement.  But I think the most satisfying thing about it is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that those human beings are warm.

Posted in: Uncategorized