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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Glimpses of home comfort traveler

    Another week, another column. Somehow time has passed again, and for everyone in Tucson, I am sure with much more regularity than it has for me. Time has been an interesting factor, varying greatly in speed but always remaining a large, looming expanse on the horizon.

    For anyone who has never been to Russia, do yourself a favor and visit. This is unquestionably one of the most interesting countries I have been to: part Soviet, part European, and all foreign.

    To give a few details, the subway stations are like Disneyland rides, going nearly 200 feet underground; the police are openly corrupt; traffic laws do not exist (especially not the pedestrian right-of-way); only a handful of people, somehow of better disposition than the rest, smile or even appear to be anything less than suicidal.

    Earlier in the week, for example, a man got onto the metro (subway) vociferating something in Russian, and because I assumed he was selling something, I did not bother to look up. The man, who turned out to be a cop, walked up to me, grabbed my chin and lifted it up, then forced me off the train. Later, I found out that this was routine, that I was not the only one forced off the train, and that I would become subject to this with unnatural frequency.

    Like Ice Cube, I can’t be faded.

    I have become so used to understanding nothing of what most people say, being a stranger to customs, and feeling slightly ill most of the time, that I am no longer upset by strange occurrences, the police, or the very disgusting, very sad homeless woman I saw kicked off the metro yesterday.

    And this is exactly the feeling I was looking for. I am so far out of my element that the few things that remind me of home have brought on an entirely new meaning. That I was able to watch us destroy UCLA from thousands of miles away was one of the happiest moments in recent memory, not only because of the victory, but because for those two hours I was able to feel exactly what 14 thousand other Tucsonans were feeling.

    And all of these feelings are not totally derived from Russia – this may be my experience in any country abroad – except for the smiling (seriously, no one smiles here; I guess it is a cultural thing, and falling on hard times in the past makes it hard for many older people to smile, or so I’ve been told. A Russian once told me that he knew I was American by how often I smiled.) But the experience of removing yourself from somewhere comfortable to some unknown, cultural opposite is an experience that is worth any amount of money. Certainly, living in Tucson is easier than it is here – much easier – but I will be back, and I will bring these experiences with me wherever I go.

    One experience I did miss out on – beating UCLA – so, for everyone who went to that game, you’re one up on me this week.

    Anyway, without rambling too much, which I already have, the only thing I can do at this point is to encourage people to get out and see the world outside of what you know, because there is a lot, and there is something to be said about being uncomfortable.

    So, in some amount of time that seems too long to think about, I will be back, and I will be able to smile. Until then, I hope the ‘Cats continue their streak, and remember what it was like in the not-so-distant past when our in-state rival used to put a big “”L”” next to the games against Arizona.

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