Hadar made butter cookies. It smelled good.
Finally, it’s time for more gift-shopping! Yeah! Gzhel is the thang – Russian national blue-colored porcelain. Fragile, expensive and genuinely beautiful. Olga helped us find a little Gzhel store on a cheapo market full of immigrants from Caucasus that sell fake Chinese crap. Hadar noticed a counter full of purses; she wanted to buy one and started looking for something matching. They were all ugly, of course, but i was smart – ha! – and told her:
— “You’re vegetarian now, are you sure you want to buy a purse made of leather?”
— “Hmmm … ask him whether it’s leather.”
— “No point in asking him – he’ll tell that it’s leather. Most people want leather.”
— “Hmmm … let’s check the label.” The label, very helpfully, was written in Pinyin. “OK, ask him.”
— “I tell you – it’s no use asking him whether it’s leather.”
— “So tell him that we don’t want leather.”
— “Then he’ll say that it is not leather.”
— “Ask him, ask him.”
— “How can i help you? Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”, the dweller interrupted.
— “Well my friend here just wanted to ask whether it’s leather”, i asked in Russian.
— “Why of course it’s leather.”
— “OK, sorry to bother you – she’s vegetarian, she doesn’t want leather.” He clearly wasn’t prepared for that.
— “It’s not leather! It’s pressed, you know … they took leather and pressed … it’s not leather! Sprechen Sie Deutsch?“
Hadar bought a huge pile of porcelain and then the question arose how are we going to drag it all around the town. Hadar wanted to put it back at home, i didn’t want to waste any more time, we had a little argument yaddayaddayadda and finally left it at the store and asked Olga to pick it up for us. Hadar lost her mood.
We went to Kremlin. It’s about time. They fucked us at the entrance and made us pay the full foreigner price and deposit our bags. Bloody antisemite tourist haters.
It was a bite-size visit – we had enough churches already and the red walls, the Tsar Bell and the Tsar Cannon didn’t impress Hadar too much. I blame her mood. Curiosity number one: There was an exhibition of antique stuff, including many old gold incrusted drinking vessels, complete with bezoar cases. Having read Half Blood Prince just a few days ago, i knew that a bezoar is a piece of goat shit, that’s supposed to be a poison antidote. In the middle ages rich people were scared to death of being poisoned, so they drank their wine with a healthy dose of goat shit. So we were walking around an exhibition of awfully expensive ancient stuff joking about goat shit. I’m sure we were not the only ones. Another funny, but heartwarming curiosity: After we did our thing in the mobile toilet, we asked the nice old Russian cleaning lady (complete with kerchief and all) where can we wash our hands. She answered, “Oh, there’s no place to do it here, золотой мой“, which literally means “my golden one”. Yes, it’s a kind of a Russian ultra-gentle vocation, usually said to young people by old people. It’s not particularly special or rare, but i haven’t heard it in a while. Ah, yes, i forgot – THE KREMLIN! The center of the fucking universe (not counting Jerusalem)! And they don’t have a decent toilet?!
Then we ate at the aforementioned veg restaurant – Jagannath. Hadar forgot all her mood swings and became totally happy with the food. No other dining place had ever delighted her so much.
Then Hadar went to buy more gifts. And i bought myself a four-string Warwick Corvette – not before i had a big dilemma whether to get it or a wonderful Washburn.
Then Hadar wanted to buy tissues. So we went to a drugstore. It’s one of those new Russian extra/elite/premium stores. Built in an old home, designed with antique furniture and all that, but the drugs and the prices are just the same. I was surprised to see “Gematogen” – a sweet chocolate-like bar, which is supposed to be good for blood circulation. A genius drug – it’s very cheap, kids love it, it’s healthy and can be consumed anytime with no side effects. I used to eat it a lot when i was little (there was a drugstore near my home). So i bought a bar and it was the same sweet syrupy taste. But now that i write about it, i wanted to link to it and tried to google for it. Searching for “Hematogene” yields results in Dutch and Croat and also Wikipedia articles about medicine. So i searched in Russian and the pleasant surprise turned into a disappointment – apparently it’s made from the blood of slaughtered cattle.
In the evening we went to a live music club with Olga and Zhenja – an Israeli latin jazz band called “Esh” (never heard of ‘em) was supposed to play there. When we arrived, the very serious server told us – “The band ‘Esh’ was supposed to play here tonight, but they didn’t come, so there’s a different band called ‘Bass Factory’ and they play in the style of New-Age.” He said “New-Age” with a particularly strong Russian accent and it was very funny – Nyu-Etsh. We came in anyway. Zhenja came with Roma. The band was weird – the beat was whacky in a good way and the saxophone parts were fine, but the keyboardist was horrible and the guitarist learnt too much from the obnoxious techniques of Alan Holdsworth and 80’s King Crimson. And they showed a film about underwater life. Roma said that it was “unbearable” and left after two songs. But we stayed and ate. After a few more songs there was a break and the guitarist promised that they will return with more of their own music and “a film from the life of insects”. The second part began with what they called their favorite song, “Inebriated Conversation”. It was the very worst song in their set and we left right after it. We constituted two thirds of the crowd.