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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In The Den of a Siberian Gangster


It's been a day since Steve 'Let's grab it by the tail and see what happens!' Irwin has died. A stingray stung the man in the heart mid-documentary. I suppose they were both doing what they were meant to do. He, making documentaries, and the stingray, stinging things they find threatening or annoying. That he had died was not known to us yet.

We were currently entering the city of Severobaikalsk, northwest of the largest fresh water lake in the world- Lake Baikal. Any chance of being impressed by this was quashed by a mild nausea that was tugging at my belly like a lost child who grips a stranger's skirt at a department store. I wasn't feeling well. Perhaps consuming that cheese for breakfast was not the best idea. Still, it wasn't a full blown stomach bug that treats your intestines like a punching bag, so that was good.

Rashit is on the platform waiting for us. He sits Godfather-like in his wheelchair while a woman (who turned out to be his wife) waves us over to him. There is another guy next to Rashit who whispers into his ear. The side of my brain that is convinced that Rashit is a Siberian gangster screeches 'It's his bodyguard!'. Another part of my brain, the realistic side that has been ignored for such a long time, whispers feebly. Something about the person next to Rashit probably being a driver or something. Stupid brain.

We eventually go over to Rashit's house and have a conversation with him. He tells me several times that he is not the criminal mastermind of Severobaikalsk and please would I stop asking him. He does turn out to be a chess master which is kind of cool. When he laughs he laughs like this: 'Tee-hee-hee.' It's a soft laugh. Maybe he actually isn't a gangster.

After Rashit shoves a handful of business cards my way we head back to our apartment. Apparently the others aren't feeling too well either.


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