24 HOURS WITH…
A lot of stores in Saint-Petersburg is open 24 hours a day.
This literally means ‘products’ and is the name of small food stores which can be found in almost every street in the city. You can go there 24 hours a day to buy bread, juice, chocolate and cigarettes. Between 10 o’clock in the evening and 6 o’clock in the morning, no liquor will be sold there – after 10 o’clock a rope, stretched between the shelves with liquor, should prevent people from buying liquor. The cashiers can open the refrigerator from behind the store counter with a remote control. The average price of a pack of cigarettes is 80 rubles, according the current exchange rate this is about 1,25 euro. The result of the low price of cigarettes is visible on the streets, a lot of people smoke and the Dutch ‘do you have a light?’ is in Saint-Petersburg ‘do you have a cigarette?’. Calling a store ‘products’ is not extraordinary here. Shoe stores are often called ‘shoes’, a clothing store ‘clothes’ and a furniture store ‘furniture’, which is very honest and clear.
In Russia, the commercial break consists without exaggeration for more than 75 percent of medicine advertisements. For example, the 8 o’clock news is followed by a commercial break in which all people have a cold, have back pain, or in which all women in menopause have sore feet. Believing the commercials, the whole nation is always ill. This explains why on nearly every street corner in Saint-Petersburg a pharmacy is located, of which a large part is 24 hours a day open. Out on the streets, people have dressed themselves warmly – fur coat, scarf and knit cap. The metro stations in the city are well heated and in the majority of the houses, the heating is centrally controlled to prevent anyone suffering from cold.
On March 8, International Women´s Day is celebrated in Russia. Every man gives flowers to those women who are dear to him – wife, girlfriend, mother, grandmother. The Dutch flower industry decently benefits from this celebration in Russia. The sales of the flower auction in Aalsmeer nearly double ahead of March 8. On this day, lots of men are waiting for their women at the top of the metro escalators with a bouquet of flowers. The metro is not only a place to meet up with people, it also is a reference point – people explain where they live based on the nearest metro station. Besides this national holiday, Russians like to give each other flowers throughout the year. When you have to reconcile with someone, you are going to visit a friend or when you want to thank someone, the florist is open 24 hours a day.
Written by Luuk Winkelmolen, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Saint-Petersburg
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