Sunday, July 31, 2016

Two apples

We're on our way from Minsk to Braslav, riding in a bus. A few minutes ago, we stopped in Byagoml' for a ten-minute break. I wandered around the bus station, and found a woman setting up a table facing the street, preparing to sell apples and mushrooms. I figured we'd enjoy eating a couple of apples, so I called to her.

"Would you sell me just two?" I asked.

She nodded, "30,000 rubles."

Her apples weren't big enough to command that high a price, a dollar and a half, even in an expensive city. I frowned. Maybe she thought to take advantage of the foreigner. "That's expensive," I complained.

Thinking I may not have recognized that she was talking about old rubles, she persisted, asking incredulously, "three rubles is expensive?"

"For two apples it is," I replied.

"Oh," she said. "I misunderstood. That was for a bucket full." She withdrew four apples from one of her buckets and handed them to me. "Just take them."

I put the apples into my pockets and called her back. "Miss..." I handed her 5,000 rubles. "Thank you very much."

Before the bus left, I still had time to go to the toilet. That privilege generally costs 5,000 rubles in Minsk, but here it was just 1,300. I handed the attendant 1,500 and she scrabbled about in her box for change. She only had a single hundred-ruble note and no new kopeks. I thanked her and told her it was OK, but she promised to reimburse me, if she could, as I left. She didn't catch my eye as I went out, though, but she came to find me at the bus a few minutes later, a hundred rubles in her hand.

People here are very nice.

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