Thursday, November 09, 2006


I feel like a cow sometimes. I'm not talking about my size or eating habits (though the whole blini situation IS getting a little out of control). What I am refering to is the transportation system in the great city of Irkutsk. The marshrutkas are alright - since they only let as many people on as there are seats. The only problem is, I can't always get one - in the mornings as I stand freezing in the dark at the busstop, pretty much every marshrutka that drives by is full. If they do happen to stop with a free seat, there is an instant mob of people at the door, pushing and shoving to get on board. I think I finally understand the whole mob mentality thing. In this country, being first in line is a very big deal - cause there might not be anything left if you're not at the head of the line. This of course leads to so pretty animalistic scenes. For example, I nearly lost a finger the other day when the bus driver decided he was ready to leave before I was completely on the bus. Gotta watch out for those automatic doors.
Buses, tramways, and trolly-buses usually operate on the principle that there is always room for one more person. I mean, the more people they have riding at once, the more money they get (even if it's only 5 rubles per person). There is rarely a trip I take on the trolleybus during which I can actually sit down. More likely I find myself sandwiched in with all the other commuters. Yesterday was the worst it's ever been. I think it had to do with the temperature - it was -6 FAHRENHEIT outside (that's -20 Celsius - here's a little converter for future reference), the coldest I've seen the temperature to date. There were so many people on the trolleybus that I had both arms straight down at my side and could not move in any direction. It's a good thing my wallet and passport were beneath three layers of clothing. Otherwise, I might have felt vulnerable (the same situation led to Aaron loosing his passport - for the second time).
Anyway, I just make do with the situation as best as I can. I miss Frodo, the brave little Neon. But I would much rather ride everyday on a crowded trolleybus than try to drive myself through Irkutsk. I'm not sure how driving schools work here, but I think they need to work on quality control.

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