Sunday, September 5, 2010

Elista....здесь в Элите

So I finally arrived here in Elista.  I have to admit that part of me never actually thought it would happen, that time would speed up and John Cusack would swing by my apartment, pick me up in an RV and take me to a secret location in China where I'd be whisked away aboard a giant ship until the apocalypse had subsided.....

But all apocalyptic jokes aside, I am here in Elista and it's both what I expected and a great deal of what I didn't.  Let's start with what I did expect.  It's hot.  Really hot.  At least compared to Moscow.  The overwhelming majority of people here are of Asian descent, something I was very much expecting and much of the architecture is Asian as well. The food is decidely Russian, which is something I expected since I'm in Russia, but the local Kalmyk cuisine I've tried also seems very Russian, but pleasantly tasty!

There is much more unexpectedness so far though, however. For example, even though the city has a population of approximately 100,000, the city center and city itself feels to me, more like that of a city with maybe 10,000 people.   I'm living, free of charge, in a university dorm, which is a 5 minute walk or so from downtown, from the university and from everything I really need.

I'm also (pleasantly) surprised by the availability of everything.  All the things I could ever need from toiletries to houseware items are readily available and easily accessible.  When I was in St. Petersburg, it seemed I had to travel much farther distances and endure much more of the harshness of the "search" where as here everything is within sight.

I'm also surprised by the exchange of money.  In St. Petersburg you were much more likely to get scolded if you did not put your money in the tray or have exact or close to exact change.  Here, however, the trays are there, but I don't get yelled at (at least not for that, just when I speak Russian...haha) and while exact change is preferred, it doesn't seem to be a big deal (I even used a 1000 ruble note for purchase of around 650 and it wasn't a problem!!! Yay!).

It came as a bit of a shock that they have bowling here (totally flipping awesome!!) and I'm hoping that by the end of the year I can become the Big Lebowski aka The Dude of Elista.  Now I just have find a Walter and a Donny....

I am a little annoyed by some of the beauracratic items of daily life (not being able to obtain a cellphone sim card without my registration for example), but these were not unexpected, nor are they really that inconvenient.

I'm a little unsure as to where the best place to buy good fruit and veggies is, but I'm sure I'll find that out.  Until next time dear readers...

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