Friday, June 25, 2010
The Search for Raputin's Member
Yesterday was most certainly an odd day for me in Russia. After a rather normal day of class we decided to visit St. Petersburg's 'Erotica Museum'. According to the guide books it's a free museum which claims to possess Rasputin's embalmed genitals. Who wouldn't want to see Rasputin's penis right? After a rather lengthy walk through a part of St. Petersburg that has most certainly seen better days, we reached our destination. The guidebook was wrong on two accounts. One, the museum wasn't free (it was 100 rubles, or three dollars) and two, it wasn't really a museum. As it turns out, Petersburg's famed 'Erotica Museum' is in fact a working AIDS/STD's clinic. Needless to say it was more than a bit odd. Here are 8+ Americans, with sanitary booties on our feet, poking around an AIDS clinic, whose walls are lined with porno, and any number of household objects or little statues of penises or various people/animals having various kinds of sex, while all the while real people are there waiting to get tested for very real STD's. Needless to say we all felt extremely awkward. Yet, we came to see Rasputin's penis, and damn right if I was going to leave without taking at least one picture of it. As such, I present to you a picture of Rasputin's penis. A rather horrifying item more than a foot long, proudly being displayed in a cabinet along with pictures of Rasputin, and guns (who knows why guns were necessary). I guess our afternoon can be effectively summarized as such. We all payed three dollars to go to an AIDs clinic, feel awkward, and look at a penis. At least we got pins out of it...
The rest of the afternoon was rather enjoyable though. I went on a walk with my new Russian friend through a truly beautiful park in a very nice part of St. Petersburg. The park was commissioned by or for (Lisa was a little sketchy on the history part of it) a Baron by the name of Potemkin either for or by one of the many queens of Imperial Russia. Regardless of the history, the park was very nice. Beautiful trees and flowers, and more than few weddings. Apparently the park is a very popular place to take wedding photos, so we saw quite a few happy couples getting their pictures taken. The area around the park was quite nice too. The streets were a lot narrower(1 or 2 lanes as opposed to 4+), so there were fewer cars and less smog. The area is home to quite a few foreign consulates, so it is quite well kept up.
Today was a lot quieter. After another day of class I spent the afternoon with Nathan (our resident director) trying to work out my visa extension for next semester. My visa is being processed and I am once again passportless. Should I get stopped by the police, I'll have to rely on my rather unconvincing справка ( apiece of paper saying that someone else has my passport) and my student ID (I look like a criminal) to get by.