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Buying a Ticket in a Cyrillic World

December 19, 2010

It was loud. There were people running all around me. I looked up at the sign. It was in Cyrillic. I could not comprehend it. I looked around and saw an information stand. I dragged myself and my over packed backpack towards it and asked in English, ‘Where can I buy a ticket?’

The lady responded something back in Russian. I gave her a blank stare. She repeated herself. I repeated the blank stare. She repeated herself again, this time a little angrier, and then pointed towards a direction. I thanked her and walked towards the direction.

More Cyrillic. I saw the only building. It had a sign that looked like a ticket. I walked in. Ten different lines, all very long; I didn’t know which to choose. I jumped on the closest line. I looked through my book to figure out a way to ask for a train ticket. It felt like a millennium before I got to the front.

‘Can I buy a ticket to Moscow?’, I asked in English.

‘No’, she responded with that harsh, Russian tone. Then pointed at another line.

I thanked her and walked over to the pointed line with my head down.

Another millennium passed. Right before I was about to get up there, a lady tried to cut in. I successfully boxed her out of the way similar to a basketball player would. I got to the front. I asked again, ‘Can I buy a ticket to Moscow?’

The lady responded something in Russian. I gave her a blank stare. She asked, ‘Today?’ I nodded like a lost child. She punched a couple of numbers and showed it to me. 2010 rubles. I asked her, ‘Do you have one with less money?’, using my hands and pushing downwards. Somehow she understood me and said, ‘Tonight?’ I nodded again. She punched in a couple more numbers and showed it to me. 1090 rubles. Sounds and looks much better.

I smiled and gave her the money. She handed me the change and the ticket. The ticket itself was not comprehendible however I saw the words St. Petersburg to Moscow and I was relieved. The ticket lady said something to me in Russian, then turned off the light and closed the window. It was lunchtime for her.

I turned around and looked at the lady who tried to cut me, gave her a nice smile and walked towards the Hermitage.

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