Monday, July 04, 2005

Russian Hangover

Vladivostok, Russia

"Nikolai, spakoinoi chebyshev!"
I groan and open one eye. There is the frowning gold-toothed lady, screaming into our room. I blearily raise myself onto one elbow, my screaming-induced headache keeping me from rising any further. I try to blink the sleep away as the angry russian women keeps yelling. It takes me half a minute, but I eventually regain some semblance of lucidity, and I realize that she's not screaming at us. She is screaming at him. The fat, sweaty, snoring Russian in the bunk across from me.
Wait. How do I know his name? And where am I? God, my head hurts.
The horrible women hollers one more time, then dissapears, returning a relative quiet to our cabin.
Ok. We're on the train. Yes. We're on the train to Vladivostok. We're supposed to arrive today, right? At nine. No, wait. Nine Vladivostok time. Which is what? Um... two? Yes, two Moscow time. This is too hard.
My brain is pounding.
Why the fuck does my head kill like this? Take a few breaths...
That's better. So, two o'clock Moscow time, and my watch says... Ah. One fifty. Ok. That's why she was yelling. She was trying to wake Nikolai up, because we're here. I guess I should get everybody going.
I stretch a little bit as my head clears and try shake the sleep out. But, the headache is still there. And it's because we were drinking last night.
There was a lot of drinking.

The night before, Mike and I were just getting ready for bed, knowing that we'd have to be up in less than eight hours. Everything was packed, the lights were off, and I was setling in for a nice slumber. Just as my mind was fading, the cabin door slammed open, and he came barreling in.
His name was Nikolai, and he had a mission.
At first, I was just going to say a nice, polite hello, and fall back to sleep, but Nikolai wouldn't allow it. He was loud. He shuffled things arounds, grunted, and generally made a racket. By the time he had settled in, Mike and I were wide awake, and it was time for a cigarette. When Nikolai offered me one, and I declined, he reached into his magic bag and pulled out a peeva (beer). Clearly, if I wasn't smoking, I would be drinking. This would be the theme of the night.
We drank beer and vodka, and ate squid jerky, sausage, bread, cheese, and some sort of pork fat. The Screaming Lady showed up then, too, to tell us to quiet down. I guess we were waking the children in the cabin next to ours. But, we kept at it all night. Mike and Nikolai even ran off the train during a midnight stop to refill our food and alcohol supply. All three of us were sweaty, loud obnoxious Russians. Then, at some point, we all passed out.

And now, it's morning, and Ms. Screamski has returned in full force. Mike is shuffling around in the bunk above me, asking why the horrible lady keeps yelling at us, and Nikolai is awake and bellowing into his cellphone. The train is slowing pulling into the desolate, raining, all-consuming greyness of Vladivostok. I'm tired, hung-over, dirty, stanky, and extremely grumpy.
For the first time this trip, I feel Russian.


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