Friday, December 16, 2005

8:40 AM, Ekaterineburg
Sitting in the airport, time on my hands - today's variation, old song. This is a good thing this day. I need a break today. (jingle that one yourself, ok?). Work has been very hard. I frequently feel at odds with Berg. Too much conflict.
So - a break today! I'm going to Cheboksary to visit a new place!
Hats - winter in Russia is when the hats come out. Caps, beanies, and fur hats, and several styles of earflapped hats for men that I've only seen pictures of in history books about earlier days in the US and logging crews in the northern midwest. There is the sharka - usually made of fur - this is like a large round pillbox when all folded up. When in Moscow, it seemed that the locals only wore this style in mink. But in Chelyabinsk I've seen many other furs used - including fox, like mine. I don't feel so all alone any more.
Today in Ekaterineburg I saw a man wearing one with the ear flaps down, made of an even bushier fur than my fox. Very much the mountain man look!
But let's talk about the women's hats for a bit. The church ladies in Memphis would fit right in - except the women's hats here are seriously and universally functional, whereas the church ladies' hats are only for social show. But I see fur hats in swirls, peaks, caps, boxes, snoods; with bobbles, dangles, beads, and stars. Any woman with a little money has a fur hat - there is obviously a certain amount of prestige being sported about here.
However, as I've said about MY hat, the hats here are seriously functional. Ever seen an insulated baseball cap? They are common here! The "driver's" cap associated (by Americans) with the British is popular - in leather or heavy cloth. And they are insulated. Stocking caps, or watch caps or beanies, are triple the thickness of mine.
A word about roads. This is the first time I've been out of Chelyabinsk going towards Ekaterineburg. the roads are much better than the highway out towards the Kurgan Oblast. Kurgan is obviously "out in the sticks".

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