I have returned from the US, smack dab into the middle of a terrorist threat. Today on the radio and TV, they announced that the Russian government (via unnamed "sources") had received
a credible warning of an imminent terrorist attack in Russia. So the Russians respond by tripling the number of military and police on the streets, in the metros, pretty much everywhere.
I won't lie, I am scared as hell, because in Russia, the terrorists actually do commit terrorist acts. And I am scared on so many levels. Firstly, I have never lived in a city where I depended on public transportation as my primary and only means of moving around. I have to take the metro and/or bus everywhere I go. The above-ground traffic is so bad in the morning that I would have to leave my house like 2 hours early to catch more than 1 bus to work, plus buses are not exempt from terror.
Secondly, the metro is sketchy to begin with, so I usually uncap and aim my mace as a precautionary measure. Now, with the entire population jittery, I am afraid to display my mace, even discretely. I do not want to get jumped in the metro because people think my mace is sarin gas or some sort. Thirdly, now that I am effectively unarmed, I am scared of the native son/skinhead/bad guys who loiter in the metro looking for brown people like me to harass
. I do not look or feel as confident without my trigger finger on my mace. So now, I am nervous and I am looking all around, trying to locate a threat before it/he locates me. This makes me look suspicious, and while I do not look Chechen (the usual terrorist suspects) I don't look anything close to Russian.
So in summary, I am scared that I am a possible general victim, unarmed specific victim and possible suspect. That is a lot of fear for one person to handle. It seems like fear is in the air. On the metro ride home tonight, it seemed like everyone was moving just a bit little faster, trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible.
However, I may have just been projecting my own concerns onto the general population. In the news reports, they asked Russians to be vigilant and keep an eye out for unusual events and report them to the police. I almost laughed out loud when I saw that. Russians never look around at anything in the metro. They keep their eyes focused at the book/magazine/newspaper in front of them, closed, or looking off into an unspecified point in the distance. Nobody looks at or acknowledges anybody else, (unless it is me, then let the staring contests commence). I tried to do my part by doing a panorama view of the metro car as I got in and once again when I sat down. I, alone, had my head on a swivel and looked like a damn fool doing it. So I stopped with the swivel head and started thinking, well if it does happen, I hope that the initial blast gets me. I don't want to be one of the "survivors" trapped in the cars, hurt and sweltering. Then I secretly hoped that it happened (to get the monkey off our collective backs) but somewhere else to some people I don't know. Then I felt ashamed, wishing death on innocent people, whose only qualification for dying in a terrorist attack is that I don't know them.
Well back to the salt mines tomorrow. Please pray to whatever god listens carefully to you, that none of us, here or in the world have to endure an attack.
On a lighter noted, my New Year's resolution is try and blog everyday-ish
. I will make every effort, but bluntly, boys and girls, some days there just isn't that much interesting stuff happening. I get up late, race-walk to work, sit out my desk and strain my brain to comprehend all the Russian floating the in atmosphere, laugh a little, talk to my kids, come home, dine with friends and then I swear its 11 pm somehow. Next day, same thing.
However, the metro is always ripe with interesting possibilities, so at a minimum, I can share what was on sale in the metro. Yesterday an old lady was selling what seemed to be beige stones. Turns out they were pumice. Who knew? My favorite metro vendor of all time was the old man (with the fedora) who was selling the tops of spray bottles --yeah, just the tops. The best part of his vending was that he had spray bottle tops -- wait for it -- in an assortment of colors; red, blue and purple. I had never seen anything like it. I sorely wished I had a need for a purple spray bottle top, because I would have bought one. Actually, it would be a cool book idea to buy one of everything sold in the metro, interview the merchant and photograph the items. Hmmm
Well, that ends this edition of the Russia blog. Keep your comments coming.
PS There still has not been any significant snowfall this winter. Between this and the terrorists, the Muscovites
are all going to need therapy. Fortunately (?) two inches of snow is forecast for this weekend.