there is one, THE russian store in montreal. not that i’m an expert, but that’s the place everybody seems to have heard of, or send you to when you ask. i only went there once with d. last summer, then in winter once and now, this week. i mean it’s fun.
it’s at plamondon, so from my work i need to go west and change metro lines. but it’s right by the station. surrounded by asian shops and swarmed by such a colorful population that i could never guess as to the actual componence of the neighbourhood – which is alright. inside, first thing i heard was a romanian mother scolding her child. then various forms of slavic languages (not yet trained to tell whether it’s all russian). a black lady with a violet turban was looking at the pickles – no idea whether she was just a tourist like me, i hope not.
i finally had time to spend reading the labels. in writing it’s easier for me, because i can tell polish at a glance (of course! all those zbwzyczky) and also the difference between ukrainian and russian. beside food, they have a small section of books (indifferent paperbacks, maybe romance and crime) and of cosmetics. i’m seriously much better at discovering what is what just from labels, than i was back in february. i just got „fun food” though: armenian bread (for melanie! she was happy, she said they eat it in the old country, but not here), a bunch of selected candy, 2 huge bags of sweet corn sticks, letonian sprot (i learnt that from d! they’re from riga, where he was born), polish processed cheese and the only romanian product in the store : a bag of Eugenias.( for the non-romanians : it’s sort of a cocoa cream cookie, but for us it’s legend.) oh, and a box of chicory, which i have no idea how to use.(maybe i’ll enlist melanie later to go for herrings and pickled stuff or jams…things are not expensive, and then, there’s the illusion of being on an Eastern Planet complete in itself. priceless.)
„daite, pajalusta,” the cashier said, gesturing to my bags.
дайте пoжалуйста – she said. 🙂 i smiled and held the bags to her as if i’d won the raffle.
двадцать три восемьдесят…something, she said, and because i was scrunching my eyes calculating in my head, she repeated the price in french.
then i took three russian newspapers – „our gazette”, „east/west” and something else. i read the anecdote page on the metro, feeling a bit of an impostor and eating the candy with the squirrel on the wrapper. this visit – a short and smiling and violent encounter. from the moment the light hit through on the plamondon stairs, two different layers of nostalgia netted me and clogged me down. that, plus daydreaming plus the frisson the contact with a foreign language always gives me. i’m restarting russian classes next week anyway, so.