Dmitry Kalugin: Commerce

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“LUNCH. Three dishes with beverage, 250 rubles. LunchBox Bistro.” Central District, Petersburg, June 29, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

Dmitry Kalugin
Facebook
July 7, 2016

Yesterday morning, I stopped by a completely new restaurant for breakfast. They had opened just recently, and the place was all polished and shiny.

There were three people in the place: the cook, the girl behind the counter, and, apparently, the manager. They were all very friendly and were glad to see me. They jumped up to greet me, telling me I should have breakfast at their place.

While I was picking out a sandwich, it transpired they did not take cards.

They were upset. Don’t just leave, they said to me. Buy at least something to support us.

I spent my last hundred rubles on a cup of coffee. They were glad and came out of the restaurant to see me off.

As I went home, I remembered coming home from Tartu in the early nineties. When I exited the Primorskaya subway station early in the morning, people were already lined up there selling things.

An old woman approached me.

“Buy some matches, sonny, and support commerce. It’s a good cause!”

There was an amazing feeling of novelty about it back then. Now I am not so sure. New places are no cause for joy, although I honestly support commerce and other good causes. It is probably a sign of old age.

P.S. I hear the rain starting up again. This is my punishment for not having bought a poached egg with pesto for breakfast for 140 rubles.

P.P.S. That box of matches is still in the cupboard in my mother’s kitchen. It is amazing how long they have lasted.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Dmitry Kalugin: Touching

"A happy childhood is more powerful than war." Detail of a mural at 35-37 Borovaya Street, Petersburg. May 28, 2016
“A happy childhood is more powerful than war.” Detail of a mural at 35-37 Borovaya Street, Petersburg. May 28, 2016

Dmitry Kalugin
Facebook
June 15, 2016

Touching

An elderly woman, quite rural in appearance, dressed in a headscarf and long skirt, was standing in the queue to the book return window at the Public Library on Moskovsky Prospect. She was returning books entitled “Fifth Form Mathematics,” “Help for the High School Pupil,” and something else in the same vein.

She caught my gaze.

“Yes,” she said, “my grandson is doing very badly at school. He got a D in maths. His parents could care less: both of them drink. His teacher said he had to pick up the slack or down the line it would only get worse. But who is going to help him? So I sit trying to figure things out. I will come again tomorrow. Basically, he is a kind, clever boy. He is good at drawing.”

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader

Dmitry Kalugin: The Paddy Wagon

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Dmitry Kalugin
March 14, 2016
Facebook

I was crossing the street when a stranger suddenly grabbed my arm.

I asked him what the matter was.

“Look who’s parked on the crosswalk!” the fellow says.

I saw a paddy wagon parked there.

“What of it?” I asked.

“What don’t you get? He’s got big eyes. He sees and remembers everything. You can’t walk in front of a police vehicle.”

“How should a guy do it?”

“Only around the back! You don’t want him to catch sight of you just like that. If he gets his mitts on you, you won’t cuss your way out of it.”

He and I walked around the back of the paddy wagon.

“Now that was the right way,” said my savior. “Always do it that way, and good luck will be yours.”

So I don’t know about you, but I now look to the future with optimism.

Translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of Minval.az