For those of you who don't know, I spent a semester of college in Russia. I have been feeling oddly nostalgic for my Russian experience this week.
While I was living there, John came out to visit me for a week. I had a great time leading him around Moscow, although I had a tendency to forget that he couldn't read Cyrillic so I didn't always explain to him where I was taking him. I think it drove him a little nuts. Anyway, the police in Russia are very different from those in America. You DO NOT want to make eye contact with them and whatever you do, you do not want to draw their attention to yourself. Russia may be a free county and all but civil liberties hadn't quite caught on, not to mention the fact that while I was there Chechnian terrorists were bombing apartment buildings in Moscow.
Anyway, one day while John and I were walking through a metro station, a couple of men came up and tried to show us something as they tried to pull us away from the crowd. I was used to peddlers doing this sort of thing so I pushed them away and grabbed John and kept walking. The guys tried again, this time angrily announcing themselves as police and accusing John of being Chechnian. My limited Russian comprehension picked up on the key terms just as they pushed us into a corner. I stuttered through my Russian whipping out my student id and visa and explained that I was an American student and that John was also American and was only visiting. They heard my accent, checked my papers and let us go. As we took the escalator down to the train platform my knees were shaking so bad I was holding on to John so I wouldn't fall down. John, happily oblivious in his incomprehension, had no clue what had just happened.
Other than a few Russian idiosyncrasies to mar the experience, I loved it there and miss some of the old buildings so much. St Basil's Cathedral was one of my favorites!