As offensive and unprogressive as stereotypes are, I’ve found there is usually some degree of accuracy to them. Walking through a Russian supermarket in Churnushka, it became obvious this was another shining example of a sterotype spot-on:
Russians drink vodka
Bottles of every shape, size and price filled multiple isles, the way washing detergents fill shelves of supermarkets back home.
Unfortunately for my liver, I buy alcohol the same way I buy my flights. Choose the cheapest and deal with the bumpy ride later. As the cashier shook her head and said, “No, no, no” whilst I approached with my chosen bottle, I knew I’d picked a winner and made another excellent life decision.
I’ve never been poisoned before, (actually, maybe once in Bangkok – but that’s another story), but now I can confidently say I know exactly how it feels. Being the cultured traveller I am, I drank vodka the only way you should in Russia.
Straight – and a lot of it.
To say it burned would be a gross understatement. I’ve had my fair share of vodka shots but this was different. There are rat poisons and pesticides kinder to your stomach. If my organs could speak they would have individually screamed, lectured me and stormed off. Again, unfortunately for them, they can’t – so I continued.
When the last drop of vodka disappeared, so did my vision. Black dots and blurs appeared which signalled the start of my internal shut-down. The situation was taken out of my hands at this point – I was being forced to back down. Waving the white flag, I surrendered to my growing blindness and buckling knees.
I have nothing to say of the next 12 hours which consisted purely of the foetal position, sailor-worthy stomach knots, heltaskelta room spinning and pulsating limbs. But, there was a pulse. Just.
Twenty four hours after ‘that’ night, water was reintroduced which went down a somewhat, shaky success. The next obstacle was solids. However, the only food I had in my apartment was a bag of frozen dumplings.
“What luck”, you must be thinking.
On this bag was a large picture of a cartoon horse. Here lies my issue. Did I have a bag of dumplings stuffed with frozen horse meat? My experience of doing things the ‘Russian way’ had so far been a complete disaster – did I really need to continue with this cultural immersion?
This was proving to be the ultimate test of my morals, which apparently I failed at. My crippling hangover, sorry – poisoning, won and I’m not proud to say I cooked them. Yes, judge me now. I ate half a bowl of potential horse dumplings. Which, in case you’re wondering, tasted quite fine.
And on that high I left Russia feeling a mixture of guilt, twisted pride and confusion – the only way you should leave Russia in my opinion.