Day of Russia

Today was the Day of Russia. We made plans to meet some friends at Dom Knigi. However, there are 3 Dom Knigi shops along Nevsky Prospekt. Apparently the big one is the main one and when people make plans to meet at Dom Knigi, this is the place to go. But we didn’t know that and so we ran around to all three and played a lot of phone tag before arriving at the right one. From there we stood and watched the parade down Nevsky Prospekt. It was incredible. At the beginning there were these big red flowers spelling out Russia (in Russian, of course) and it was so beautiful. I actually got choked up at the sight of it. I can’t explain it but I feel so connected to this city and to Russia in general. I’ve never felt more at home anywhere else and the thought of leaving makes me so sad. Right now I feel like I want to stay forever and I feel like I belong here. It’s quite amazing yet strange because I’ve never felt this way about a place. I almost can’t imagine not being here and every day I’m away is a day that I don’t get to spend here. Such a sad thought.

I find it interesting how I was drawn to Russia and to the language and found the culture so fascinating even before I ever visited the country. I’ve always had this amazing, intense, lasting connection and now it’s being realized. Well, I could go on and on but the point is that I’m having a great intercultural experience. Is this part of the bliss you feel before cultural shock sets in?

After the parade we walked around the city and ended up in Palace Square near the Hermitage. There was a concert and they were playing the Russian national anthem before releasing blue, white and red balloons. The people I was with were an international grouping: Russians, French, Thais, and Americans. But we were all speaking in both English and Russian and the communication flowed so smoothly and freely. We talked, laughed, took photos and generally had a good time.

Then we went to a café and had some food. It started to rain and after eating we walked through the park. There was a fashion show with girls modeling dressed made of flowers. We stopped and watched for a minute and tried to catch some of the flowers being thrown to the audience. Then as we were heading back home, a guy came up and tried to talk to me. I ignored him but he was persistent, trying to get my attention, literally following me around. Finally our guide told him off and then explained to me that he was from the Caucuses and that people from there can sometimes be rude and come up to girls and proposition them in rude ways. I was surprised that she was so open about racial problems and the negativity toward certain people within the country.

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