Monday, 18 March 2013

Open Your Mind to the Possibility That People Might Be Awesome

Yes, long blog title, but that is my lesson for today. Opening my mind to the possibility that people might be awesome, genuine, friendly, well-meaning. I know that sounds so, so lame and probably patronising, but hear me out...

Maybe it's a Londoner thing, but I have a tendency to block the world out when I'm walking around. Head down, looking at the ground or straight ahead where I'm going like a blinkered horse. But that isn't how opportunity strikes, adventure isn't lying there on the pavement. Adventure is in your heart and in the hearts of others, you've just got to say 'Yeah! Let's do this thing!'.

Today classes were quite interesting - for my news article in the first class I talked about Comic Relief and how Friday was Red Nose Day. I always enjoy that day because pretty much everyone reaches in their pockets and gives something, it's almost national holiday of charity. I don't like coming into class every day with news about death and gloom so I'm going to try my hardest to find positive news to bring in. Also that's more of a challenge because we covered all kinds of disasters in translation classes at university. In the second class Sasha asked me how my week went and I ended up pouring my heart out to her about how work is going, how I'm lacking in motivation and want to see my talents going somewhere, want to see a positive outcome of my work and see people interacting with Liden & Denz (aka me) via social media because otherwise my job is just shouting into space, which is most dissatisfying.

After school I went to lunch at Teremok with some girls from school (so weird to say school, makes us sound... underage?). They had plans to visit a cute vintage shop called Off, funnily enough off Ligovsky Prospect, so I tagged along (after all I hadn't been shopping for anything other than groceries since I arrived). We got to Off to find painted on the door in Russian "We have moved to Tkachi, 60 nab. Obvodnogo Kanala, 5 mins walk --->". So we intrepid travellers took heart and took off in the direction of the canal. With the help of maps and my having a handy sense of direction we found the big converted factory/warehouse which is Tkachi (lit. Weavers). The ground floor is a mix-and-match of trendy clothes stores, music shops, a comic book store, Off the vintage place, a hip upmarket bike shop and various accessories. I bought myself a shiny gold waist belt (could resist), and might have to go back for the oversized jumper covered in ice-creams. I don't even like Magnums, but it's just so... kawaii! The top floor is mainly a cafe called 'Cafe in the Air', which I won't say has the most amazing views, but you can get a darn good smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich there for only 100 roubles, and they forgot to charge for my hazelnut latte so I left a very generous tip. You can also have a game of table tennis... interesting combination.

We wound our ways back on the metro, I hopped off at Sadovaya and starting making my way along the Griboyedov canal, but this time in stopped in a shop whenever I felt curious. I found that 'Rainbow Smile' is actually like Superdrug or Boots, but you can also buy washing powder and loo roll and cleaning products there. I managed to hold off hair-dye temptation. I found a cheaper place to buy my favourite pens - erasable blue gel pens with thick points that write lovely Cyrillic.

Once on my street I was going to walk right past my door, go to the corner shop and buy groceries. I noticed a guy wearing a shirt that said 'Жизнь без страха' and smiled because I liked the slogan - Life Without Fear. He was standing outside the cafe which takes up the ground floor of my building, and beckoned me inside insistently, promising there would be free live music starting any moment. I could but laugh and say "Why not?!". He had been talking to another girl - I had thought they were friends hanging outside the cafe smoking or something, but it transpired she was also being talked into the free gig. We both laughed at the spontaneity and randomness of being dragged off the street, and took a table together. We got chatting (in English I'm afraid: I was tired so my slow, stumbling Russian gave me away as not from round here), listened to the concert and laughed about how young the singer seemed. Both of us were shocked when he said he had a wife - he looked about 17!

Stepan Korol'kov was his name, and he sang songs, recited poems and told stories of his adventures hitch-hiking from his home in Siberia to St Petersburg to seek some fun and adventure. He is possibly the most optimistic person I have ever heard. He opened with a song from the point of view of a newborn baby singing about its mother, he sang songs about his love for Russia and for his wife, songs about striving for your goals and going a bit mad out on the road, and also some famous ones like 'The Bremen Musicians'. He recited his own poems and some Esenin, quoted Mayakovsky (Polly McMichael my lecturer would have been proud). He told stories between songs about strange showers and bartering with sausages.

Once he'd finished his set I and the girl whose name I hadn't even asked yet(!) put some money in the jar for him and ordered coffees. We sat in Щелкунчик, exchanged names, and chatted until long after they had closed. We went to the corner shop where she showed me the Kosher cereal bars (hooray, cereal bars at all!), and said our goodbyes outside her front door, which hilariously enough is house next to mine! What a happy coincidence, what a warm and outgoing new friend to have made because of it :)

A most serendipitous day I'm sure you'll agree!
Needless to say I haven't done my homework, time for me to get on with that. Ta-rah!

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