88% pleasant, 12% unpleasant.
31.12.13 - 6.1.14
Khabarovsk, January 4th 2014
It wasn't only money I miscalculated, but also time. I had calculated that the 1500 roubles circus ticket for first class was equal to one million rupiah. And then I miscalculated the time I had before the circus show. So after booking a seat, I took some time sampling the various antique trams as in taking pictures of them. You know how I have made a summary of the trams and buses in Khabarovsk. Some of those photos were taken from the crossroad near Gagarin Park. From there, on the way to Amur River I came to realize that these trams and buses do enjoy every minute of the hour. Nevertheless, Amur was a must for me. So I forced myself to continue to Amur.
When I took the first shot, which was the Grado Uspensky Cathedral, through my viewfinder I saw a black speck on top. Oh no! This can't be. The blue sky in my viewfinder already seemed ruined. I didn't know that black speck actually doesn't appear on the result and could be confirmed so from the preview. I just panicked. I still have a week to go... I thought. Next, I searched and searched a place for shelter so that I could take off my lens and clean it. I was worried if I took the lens off in such a freezing open air, frost will get into the inside.
At a building which was maybe an office, I got in and unloaded my cleaning tools. Damn! The hair of the brush cleaner fell off inside the inner part. That made me have to spend more time cleaning. If this incident didn't happen, I could have taken a little more shots of Amur River.
The ride back to Gagarin Park was like a thousand years. "I must not miss the circus. I have paid. It's one million. Satu juta, satu juta!" I kept on reminding myself. Just to make sure I wasn't making matters worse by getting on the wrong tram, I showed the tram attendant, an elderly man, the piece of paper my front desk hotel staff had written on. "This tram is going to this place, isn't it?"
He took a glance on my piece of paper. "Houskvousk rousk vousk," he nodded with a big smile and continued chattering as if I were a Russian. My guess is he was describing what a fantastic circus this is. Heeeyaaa.... I knowwww, I cried (in my heart). That's why I want to be there sooonnn.
After attending other passengers, he came back to my side with a fatherly smile and another "Houskvousk rousk vousk." His expression was as if I had made the best choice in Khabarovsk. However, he didn't look worried at all. Doesn't he realize that I'm running late? I so wished he could feel me as plus to his gentleness. And then... "Houskvousk rousk vousk," he gestured the number four with his fingers.
"Yeah!! The circus starts at four o'clock!" I really wanted to cry.
"Houskvousk rousk vousk," he repeated and again gestured the number four, but with a big smile. Is he telling me that I won't be late?
When my watch pointed to four sharp, he was still smiling. I showed him my ticket. "I have already purchased a ticket." Who knows he thought I had the whole time in Khabarovsk, so if I can't catch the show today, I can see the one tomorrow. If only I knew how to say in Russian, "Look, Sir, I have purchased a first class ticket. I must not be late even for one minute."
The bus attendant picked up the ticket from my hand. "Houskvousk rousk vousk," he nodded twice, smiled, and then gestured the number four again. Heeeyaaa...
"Spasibo!" I bowed my head to him as our tram stopped in front of Gagarin Park. Again, I got a big smile with the expression of: Enjoy the show!'
It was fifteen past four already at that time. I ran as fast as I could toward the entrance gate. One million, one million! Run! It was a miscalculation. 1500 roubles should have been approximately half a million rupiah. However, had I calculated correctly, I would still run, run...! Half a million is still a dear sum for me. There's still that 'million' in there. Run, run...! Now, I'm missing my home country's angkot where I can ask the driver to stop right exactly in front of the gate, where bus stops are virtually anywhere. Aha! Run, run...!
Finally, at the main entrance door. Trying to catch up my breath, I handed my ticket.
"Houskvousk rousk vousk!"
"I know I'm late. But please..."
"There! He speaks English!" he said in English while pointing to the man who told me where the toilet was this morning! Oh ow. He kindly ushered me to the left side of the building. "Go up stairs," he instructed in English while pointing to the stairs.
Inside the circus stadium, I showed my ticket to a lady usher. She threw a look over the seats on the left side. "Houskvousk rousk vousk!"
"Which one is it?"
"Houskvousk rousk vousk!" She kept point 'over there' and I had not the faintest idea of where my seat should be, because the stadium was full packed. I walked down one step, but she stayed where she was. Seeing that she didn't show any intention of ushering me to my seat, I just sat down on the stairs. Phew! "At least I can watch the show from here. Forget about the one million seat!" I told myself.
The usher saw me sitting on the stairs and yet said nothing. She walked down passed by me. I thought she was going to check my seat. No. She stood in front of the first row and talked to a fellow usher. As she talked, her finger pointed towards my side and then she made a glance to the seats on the left side. I waited for her to signal me to come. No she began biting her nails. Aaarghhh. This was the one time I felt bad with a Russian.
"Oh well, maybe you are not allowed to walk up and down the stairs during a performance, because it would disturb other guests. Like in a classic music concert, you know." So did I console myself. "She'll usher you when this one performance is over."
Meanwhile I began to cough endlessly for three four minutes. It felt like when your saliva gets into your windpipe by accident. I tried to clear my throat, but did not help. What's wrong with me? Because of running just now? But, when I exercise, I use to run longer and harder than this. Pneumonia??
"Drink warm water," said a voice in my heart.
Like magic, after I drank a cup of warm water from my thermos, my cough stopped in an instant.
So I prepared my camera, ready to shoot, and shoot, and shoot. Shooting a circus, not to mention a Russian circus... wow, that's the most awaited part!
This was just my second shot when apparently the usher had finished biting her nails. Suddenly she was standing next to me. "Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" She pointed at my camera and shook her hand.
"Oh, I'm sorry." I put down my camera and she went away, back to her friends. After this performance with the leopard was over, she still didn't usher me to my seat as I thought she would. Then, it's not a matter of disturbing other guests, is it??
Nothing turns me down worse than forbidding me to take pictures. I was super upset. Missing part of the circus due to arriving late, no seat, no pictures, and yet spending one million.... aaarrrggghhh!
When the next performance was playing, the lady usher came to me again. This time she signaled me to follow her.
Finally on a real seat. Yet, I was still upset. "What's the use if I may not take pictures!?"
"You are foolish," said a voice in my heart. "Even you cannot take pictures, you can watch and keep the scenes in your mind. You still get something for that one million. But by grumbling, what do you get? You don't even see what is in front of you now!"
See in front of me? What is in front of me?
Ouw! Monkey gymnastic! For my fellow countrymen, let me emphasize that is no Topeng Monyet. I did think it was such and thus paid no attention but continue grumbling. "Monkeys. Too many have I seen. Monkeys jumping? What's so special about that? It would be, if I could challenge myself capturing their action." However, after that voice in my heart spoke, I realized that these monkeys were doing the exactly same performance as human gymnastic performance in a circus show. The difference is only that their equipments were much shorter. Now my eyes couldn't believe they were monkeys. It was absolutely the best monkey performance I had ever seen.
After the next next performance, I came up with a silly thought. Maybe taking pictures is forbidden, but videotaping is okay.
It took just two seconds until a lady behind me hit my shoulder hard. "Houskvousk rousk vousk! Houskvousk rousk vousk!" Her tone, her look, was harsher than of the usher's when she told me not to take pictures. She kept on "Houskvousk rousk vousk!"-ing behind me even after I returned my camera into my bag. Then in between I heard her son's voice. It seemed he was asking what was the matter. Ugh. My shoulder hurt, you know.
The human beings that performed after the monkeys were all amazing. Fantastic. Now, I didn't want to miss any movement. However, sometimes it was inevitable, because next to my seat was a wall which although seldom, hindered my view.
"Ah... first class, and yet still having a hindered view. Ah... one million."
I answered myself, "Come on. Don't start grumbling again. Look at this full packed stadium. You should be grateful you got a ticket anyway. You should be grateful you can travel this far."
Then came recess hour. Toy vendors and snack vendors replaced the ushers in double size. Under the bright light, I stared at the numbers behind on the seats. I took my ticket out...
I matched the words with what was written on the side of the rows. Hmmm... it looks like that I'm not sitting on my seat... I figured out that my seat should be one row behind a little bit to the right. Next to that seat was a man sitting.
"Excuse me." I showed him my ticket. "Is this seat here?"
He took a look and then seemed surprised. In a hurriedly he picked a water bottle from that seat. I read that as a sign of giving the seat to me.
Hah... now... on this seat, my view won't be hindered by the wall at all. I see. The green seats are the first class, and just now I was sitting on a brown seat. It must be the second class seat.
I was too absorbed observing the toys brought in by the vendors that I didn't realize a man had already sat on my brown previous seat. Next to him, on the green seat was seemingly his wife. Not long after, the lady who hit my shoulder came. She looked at me with surprise.
"Houskvousk rousk vousk?" in a whispering tone she said to the man. The man seemed not to say much and didn't look back to me. All through the rest of the circus, no one came to claim the seat I was sitting on. And the man, stayed on that brown seat. So! Aha! He had taken my seat actually! Probably he thought I wasn't showing up. But when I did show up, he hadn't be a gentleman enough to move to his own seat and give back my seat. And then the usher knew someone had taken my seat. That's why she hesitated ushering me. Funny it is that she didn't tell the man to move to his own seat. This man and his wife turned out to be in one group with the lady and his son. A funny thing also was that every time my eyes fell on her by accident, she would look away. Ahahaha. Wasn't she the one mad with me? Ahahaha. Sign of embarrassment?
At the end of the circus, a super tall Christmas tree was brought in, jolly music filled the air, children drag their parents' hand to dance along.
With this, I called it a day. .... Oh yeah, I was surprise, too, seeing rattan table at my hotel. Russians use rattan, too, apparently.