There seems to be a level of fear that is lingering from the old Communist days; it seems that everywhere I go, many people, usually the older folks, have a fear of having their photo taken. I saw an Army truck and took the above photo. As soon as the soldier saw my camera, he pulled his head back and would not expose himself again. Many of the vegetable sellers, women in the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, & 70′s absolutely refuse to have their photos taken and look very worried after I snap a pic and they were not aware beforehand. It is almost as if they expect the KGB to jump out and arrest them if their photo appears on a western blog…
At the Kazan train station, I saw some gypsies begging for money. I have seen them at nearly every city that I have visited. Notably in Odessa, I saw an older woman and 3 younger women have a “strategy” meeting in the main walking street. She pointed to 2 or 3 restaurants and to the McDonalds. Each of the young women went to their “assigned” work area and began panhandling for change. The girl who came to my restaurant appeared to be about 18 or 19 years old. She carried her young baby as she went from table to table on the patio. When she finished making her rounds, she tried to go inside the restaurant but was driven out by a waitress. Outside the Kazan station, I realized that I did not have a photo of any gypsies so I shot one from a distance.
After visiting the Kazan Kremlin, I went for a haircut. Last month, when a man from Pakistan cut my hair and I told him only cut this much (showing about 3/4′ between my fingers), he cut off all my hair except for three-quarters of an inch. Did I learn my lesson? No. Just as my hair grows out, I see a barber shop in the Kazan walking street district. “Blah blah blah, something or other in Russian.” I hold up my fingers and say, “Only cut off this much.” Yeah, she cut it all off except for that amount. Doh! Now I look like a porcupine.
Strolling through the walking district and did some people watching, did some shopping, snapped a few photos. I talked to some Russian soldiers about their uniforms and they asked me about my upcoming trip to Siberia.