Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Acquisition of a Russian Phone

On Couchsurfing, it seemed like the norm for folks was to just give me their cell number. I realized that it might be a good idea to try and get a phone. I asked a question on the Moscow board and a man named Vova sent me a message saying he could take me to buy a phone.

I was grateful.

Getting phone was not covered in the phrase book...

At 4:30 PM we met up at the Улица 1905 года station at the central red and blue post.

I witnessed one babushka beat up another one. She took her giant backpack and bashed the other one on the head with it. I wasn't sure what to think of that. I'm not used to violence in public. Then, the babushka who got bashed walked away and smashed a bottle of wine on the station floor. The men in the furry hats came and watched.

Vova arrived and I quickly felt relieved to be in his company. When I am in the company of another human, in Russia, I feel like that gives me permission to smile more liberally. I am extremely grateful for Vova in a lot of ways. Not only did he help me get a phone (read: gave me a phone to use while in Russia), he also gave me lunch and the keys to his house so I can stay on his couch this weekend, even though he's away to St. Petersburg.

We wound our way through the station until we reached MTC. For around 450 rubels, I was set up with a new sim card for the phone. 150 rubels for the card (around $5) and 300 rubels of credit (around $10). He thoroughly explained the rates to me (all calls to MTC numbers are free, calls made in Moscow to Moscow numbers are 3 rubels a minute, calls to the rest of Russia are 14 rubels a minute) and I was set to go. They needed to see my passport in order for me to get the phone.

After that, we walked to a park for lunch (which I hadn't been expecting -- just to figure out how to get a phone). Vova made for refreshing company and I got to learn more about his life in Russia.

From the park, we found our way to the next metro station. We pushed our way onto the brown line and as we traveled, I got to practice reading Russian. He was a good teacher and also made sure that I knew where I was and quizzed me on the route we were taking to his home. We switched from the brown line to the dark blue line and then it was just a 5 minute walk to his home. Before going there, though, he took the time to show me where the grocery store was. I've been looking for grocery stores since I arrived in Moscow and couldn't figure out what or where they were.

We got to his flat which involved a password code to enter into one of those giant appartment buildings along with three keys. One key to enter the hall and then two keys to open his front door. Inside, it was fresh, spacious, and extremely clean. I was impressed.

He said his mother had stayed the night before (or was it two nights before?) and had made food and that I needed to eat it before he got back or it would go bad. We ate some of the fish she had made and it was delicious. When I commented on that he told me that he cooked that way too. He packed for his trip. I figured out my day. Then, back to the metro we went.

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