fatman Find the clues!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Every Journey Starts With Guys in a Cafe Talking About The First Step

'Bureaucracy was originally a Russian word.' That's Chris Barker talking. He recites this fact absently, thoughts far away, as we wait for our coffees to arrive. 'The red tape issue we'll encounter with visas and such has been deeply ingrained in their culture.' He's just one of these guys who knows a bit about everything*.

We were meeting at the Degraves cafe on Degraves street to discuss the logistics of our Trans-Siberian trip. Absent at the table was Chris' housemate Nick who was running 20 minutes late for our (2:00 pm) meeting because he overslept. Understandable since Nick was a fellow hospitality guy (unhealthy diet, irregular sleeping patterns, has more black shirts than Mussolini, spends an inordinate amount of time discussing philosophy in obscure bars early in the morning, etc.) and had been working the previous night.

Chris traces an invisible landscape in the air 'We'll board the ferry at Toyama (in Japan), probably on a Wednesday, so by the time we reach Vladivostok...forty or so hours later...we can have a nice weekend checking out the city. I also wouldn't mind having a look at Ussuriysk. There's supposed to be a Siberian tiger reserve which may be fun. Or incredibly tacky.'
'Uss...uriysk? You just made that up.'
His palms go up in mild defence 'It's not the sort of thing I'd bother lying about.'
'Wish one of us had brought an atlas along.'
'There's a pretty reliable one in my head.'
'Oh yeah? Well, let's test your little "brain atlas". What's this city here?' I jab at an imaginary point near the sugar.
'If Vladivostok is over here that would make it....Ulan Ude. Nick really wants to visit it. Ulan Ude is the Buddhist capital of Russia. It was founded in the 17th century as a Cossack garrison on...'
'Alright, alright. How about HERE!' I stab a finger violently in a wild direction causing a passing waitress to duck for cover.
'Well,' he replies calmly ', you're either pointing at one of Jupiter's moons(probably Ganymede) or at Nick who has finally decided to join us.'

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those that understand binary...and those that don't,

* The other two guys who know everything about everything are Gus (Angus 'Don't call me Gus' Hewson) and Second-hand Bookstore Steve. Gus is the undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome sufferer who has a more scientific approach to things whereas Steve knows things because he has read pretty much every book ever written. As an example of how wack these guys are...I was running a wee bit late to meet up with Steve and he sends me a text message: 'I WILL KNOG YOUR URINAL ABOUT YOUR KNAVE'S COGSCOMB FOR MISSING YOUR MEETINGS AND APPOINTMENTS.'
'What the Hell are you talking about?' I ask when I finally arrive 'I feel like I've been messaged by James Joyce.'
'It's from Shakespeare. The Merry Wives of Windsor.'

You want a surreal experience? Wait till these dudes talk amongst themselves.

Steve: I was reading about this guy the other day. He was this weird murderer during the Depression who had the whole gamut of strange fetishes: corpophilia, cannibalism, masochism, etc. He also stuck needles in pelvis and his genitals.
Gus: (short pause) You don't mean Albert Fish do you?


Gus: I spent about three hours putting up computer shelving today.
Steve: 'Cos that'll get you laid.


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