Dmitry Kalugin: Is That a Human Being?

 

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Dmitry Kalugin
Facebook
January 1, 2018

Yesterday, for the first time in many years, I listened to the leader. I listened and thought, “Is that a human being?” In other news, it has snowed.

Translation and photo by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Mr. Kalugin for his kind permission to translate and reproduce his remarks on his website. You can support him and me emotionally in the coming months by banishing from your head the pernicious, widespread myth that the leader enjoys tremendous popular support. If anything, it is now obvious to observers on the ground that the leader has produced a sense of tremendous hopelessness in large swathes of the populace and has become deeply unpopular by leaps and bounds, especially in the past year.

Dmitry Kalugin: Bruce Willis vs. Brad Pitt

you can trust bruce willis“Bruce Willis. A loan in ten minutes. Trust Bank.” Mayakovsky Street, Petersburg, April 22, 2012. Trust Bank’s managers and employees were charged with fraud in April 2015. The bank received a $500 million emergency bailout from the Russian Central Bank in December 2014. Photo by the Russian Reader

Dmitry Kalugin
Facebook
December 15, 2017

Yesterday, I got chatting with the saleswoman in the basement where I buy smuggled coffee. Looking at my gray face, she saw signs I had not been getting enough shut-eye.

“Yes,” I said, “I’ve been sleeping badly. Nightmares have been messing with my head.”

“Well, the dreams I dream are totally screwed up. Take yesterday, for example. I dreamt I was getting married to Brad Pitt. It was like the thing was settled, the whole megillah. But my heart was topsy-turvy, because I don’t love him.”

“Who do you love?”

“Bruce Willis. I like him more as an actor and as a person.”

“Well,” I said, “if that is the hand dealt you (I’m no expert, of course), Brad Pitt is no bad bet, either.”

“I told myself the same thing. Why you mucking around? You’ve lived your whole life ass-backwards. Finally, a good option comes along: Brad Pitt. What else could you want?”

“Yeah, definitely a good option.”

“On the other hand, no way! Because I like somebody else, Bruce Willis. I realize it looks strange, but I can’t force myself. Basically, things are complicated.”

“So, how did it end? Did you get married?”

“I didn’t get anything. I woke up completely confused.”

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to Mr. Kalugin for his kind permission to translate and publish his feuilleton on this website.

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