Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The little palace

I have a favorite public restroom, which I call the Piss Palace. It’s a scaled-down manor house with a basement and attic in addition to the public space inside. Last year it cost 600 rubles to stop in here, and I was so fond of the place that I’d visit without any particular need. This year, times are financially tough in Belarus and the price went up at the beginning of the year to 800. As of today, it’s a cool thousand. The price to me is actually unchanged, since at the beginning of the year I was getting 3,000 rubles to the dollar and now I’m getting 5,000. Folks getting paid in Belarusian money probably don’t go here so often, however.

To the extent that the locals have money to spend, they’re pretty busy spending it. I don’t know the official rate of inflation, but prices climb continuously and people find it attractive to buy anything they plan to use in the coming months because they imagine the price will be higher later. The deputy prime minister is talking about raising stipends for pensioners, but it’s hard to imagine how that can be done without fueling added inflation. Better to buy now.

Alla and I went down to the biggest downtown mall today to buy linen shirts. Last year I waited to do this until the weather got really warm, and the current production had almost completely sold out. Yesterday we thought we’d started early enough, but apparently the other buyers started even earlier and the fancy linen store had very little to chose from. But then I got the brainy idea to visit a different store with less tourist appeal. Today we found shirts, including a hefty percentage of older stock on which prices had not yet risen. I felt so virtuous about the savings that I stopped at the palace on the way home.

No comments:

Post a Comment