The Vodka Haze and Related Matters in St Petersburg
June 21, 2005 5 Comments
Never ever try and blog as a Kenyan in St Petersburg, Russia. It is not possible; it is beyond the bounds of credulity and possibility. They have this clear, tasteless substance called Russian Standard Vodka and it really has been sad for this particular African. The toasts don’t stop, or the misplaced sense that you are in a familiar space when you are actually in the strangest city that was ever built. Throughout my life Russia has been a constant: its politics and, most importantly for me, its literature. After a week here, despite the haze, I have come to realise the self indulgence of my politics. Russians must be the toughest most stubborn people on earth because the cruelties leveled on them – by the Peters and Stalins – had to be a response to the size of their spirits. I want to live here and learn Russian and how to be a writer because this place speaks to so many things that I have never consciously articulated. I went to Kutuzov’s tomb yesterday. It is in Kazansky Cathedral and was my best moment in Russia. A country that prays while displaying the captured standards of Napoleon who brought death here and did not understand that Russians could endure more than he could wield. When I am reborn, I hope it is as a melancholic Russian writer who used to be a soldier.