October 14, 2004
I have not yet had an opportunity to get my personal computer online. It's still like the wild West out here, except it's the wild East. People are still very nice, though. We saw a 3 hour line of cars waiting to get into Vladivostok, which is about what the difference was between our arrival with police escort and the luggage, without escort.
Ian may have gotten some of that ride on video, since there were several near misses that really got the adrenaline going. There seems to be no combination of English words that lets them know that it's not that big of a rush to get to the hotel. They get totally focused on the chase.
There has been much good will exchanged on all fronts, as we have all gotten along, the Russians and our crew. However, this morning something really weird happened. The crew were in a big old bus on the way to the airport, which apparently broke down. Minutes later, they were on their way again in a different bus. Problem is, where did that replacement bus come from? We were told that it was commandeered from the public bus pool and they stopped to let an elderly gentleman off at his bus stop on the way to the airport. What happened to the rest of the people on the bus, and whether they made it to work on time, we won't know....but bets are leaning toward them not feeling as much love for these invaders of their city.
Yes, it's different here. One funny thing that happened at the last hotel: It was a Korean hotel, since we were so near to Korea at the time, but still in Russia. It had the nice furnishings, and even an escape rope to get out in case of fire. So, I thought nothing of brushing teeth and drinking some tap water in the process. Later, as I was looking for some clue as to why this hotel, like all the others, had no internet available for a laptop, I saw a notice in the services book: "the water at the tap is not available for drinking. Please use the minibar, a charge will be made to your room". D'oh!! Maybe similar incidents will explain why the Band black market price for Imodium is so high..........
Gigs have gone very well. All sold out, and very attentive audiences, who are also willing to be quiet in the occasional mellow moment. One time a child was walking up to the front of the stage to offer a piece of paper to be autographed. The police guard started to do his usual pushing back, but Ian Gillan gestured for her to go ahead and he signed it, to the applause of the entire audience. It was significant to them, since they are very sensitive to that feeling of repression. Later in the show, the police seemed to get the message, and there was a better atmosphere. A lot has changed in these last 15 years, though. We all are noticing that things are getting more relaxed and businesslike, which is very appreciated.
Still, it's different. People who look down on anyone's level of affluence should be required to tour Russia, not just the big cities. It might help you speak up to stop someone from making fun of people who live in trailer parks, or projects. Here, the people that live in what we might describe as squalor, are very motivated, hard working people. By the way, we find this to be true in almost every "poor" country that we go to.
© stevemorse.com 2004