Tuesday, November 11, 2008

noticing the haves and the have nots

Yesterday I left the house for a bit because Tom had someone over who needed his help.  I chose to sneak off to the Mega Mall in New Adigea a city not far from here.  I had fun walking around the mall, seeing all of the new technology, and looking at the overwhelming amount of products for sale in the fancy new supermarket. 

After getting off of the free shuttle bus that took me half way home from the new mall I walked over to the other side of the street to catch a bus that would take me back to our apartment.  This bus stop is located near a large outdoor market.  As I was walking I heard a woman calling out for people to buy her crawdads that she had for sale, saw people lined up on the street to sell their various wares, and noticed a little old lady sitting at the bus stop with a towel spread out beside her selling empty 5 liter water bottles.  

The disparity between the two sights is not unique to Russia.  We saw this in California as well.  However, what struck me was that in both places, the new mall and the outdoor market, there were eager customers.  I rode on the shuttle bus with many people who had large bags filled with things they had purchased at the mall.  I also witnessed both the woman selling her crawdads and the woman selling the empty water bottles make sales.   

One of the things that Russian President Medvedev promised to address in his State of the Union speech last week is the living situations of people here… it will be interesting to see what changes take place over this next year.  And if there will still be a need for a pensioner to sit at the bus stop with a towel spread across the bench selling her empty water bottles so that she herself can survive.

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