Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Russian Bank Trip

Today was my first time in a bank.... Since my landlord is too busy to come pick up the piles of cash, I agreed that I would go pay the money to an account at the bank... Of course, my Russian realtor, Polina came with me.

I guess this is the only place outside of work and the grocery store where I am surrounded by people living daily life. It was quite eye-opening. I had been told that some of our clients at work still did business manually, like the railroad has all of these babushkas keeping the books on paper.... now, I understand and believe it.

Inside the bank was quite a jumble of lines... They don't really know how to make lines here... Older people, from the Soviet times, who seemed quite upset - all I could make out was this old guy did not have his passport, and he was upset because he did not know he needed it.....

Ok, so my turn comes. Polina gives a paper to the clerk with the number of the account - or Visa card? we are going to put this money on. I had 100,000 Rubles in an interoffice envelope in a small paper bag........ I never thought I'd be doing this... But, a girl was telling me how when her parents bought their apartment, they transported the cash in suitcases. Apparently, you can hire protection for these sorts of things to accompany you on the metro. I often wonder what people are carrying in those large bags.

Back to the bank... I give my passport, and she looks for my visa, because it has my name in cyrillic. She asks Polina how much - "sto teseech" which is one hundred thousand transliterated into the roman alphabet. Ok, so I have to sign two receipts, and she gives me this poker chip...
Seriously, it was a poker chip with 21 on it.

Another line.... to go into this room where I actually give the money. The lady puts it in a counting machine.. Yep, 100,000. So, I get a receipt - which Polina tells me to keep, and we are done.

This is normal life. This is what people have to do. I told Polina I was fascinated, because I would not have believed it.

I finally found a book that I think will help me understand how things work here.
I started it today, and have almost finished it. It is like everything has started to click in the last few weeks... I have realized all of my shock and confusion was because I expected things to work like they did in the US (at least at work) - but what I know now is that CULTURE overrides everything.... and I was not understanding that culture.

I am sure I will enlighten you with many interesting facts....

Well, I have another post to make about something really good!

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