Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: MUSIC (04/02/20)
TITLE: The Moscow Deception
By Tanya Shliahov
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Chaline, had been viewing the Church of Saint George the Victorious in Moscow. She was awestruck by its blazing peach walls and snow-white trimmings, its glimmering blue onion domes and its shining gold crosses, which swept inattentive bystanders’ eyes heavenward. She had taken another flutter of photos and then, leaning against a slender, black lamppost, opened her travel book to the index section, slowly running her finger down the page until she found the word, ‘café’.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, Chaline saw a small, red and white, rectangular piece of paper flitter to the ground. It belonged to a tall man, aged in his 30s. It had fallen out of his wallet when he pushed it into the pocket of his jeans. He had been calling to a man who appeared to be waiting for him for some time now, but now, was swiftly leaving the picturesque scene.
Chaline plucked the wafery Russian rouble from the ground and hurried after the tall man.
“Izvinite! Excuse me!” she called, yearning to try out her limited knowledge of the Russian language on a native Russian.
“Izvinite!” she tried again, but the tall man and his friend appeared not to notice.
On catching up with them, she reached forward and tugging on the tall man’s jacket, she held up the small rectangle of paper for them to see.
“Your money!” she said, hoping somehow, they would understand her English.
The tall man looked at her quizzically for a moment, and then feeling the back of his jeans, pulled his wallet out. He opened it, peered inside and on finding it to contain only some plastic cards and a photo of a woman with a child, appeared quite shocked. Then, a grateful smile spread across his face as he patted her on the arm and said, “Spasiba! Thank you!”
He rubbed the rouble between two fingers as he opened his wallet to place the money inside. Then, a look of displeasure swept across his face. He rubbed the rouble again, and on finding it to be only one note and not three, uttered a fast and furious tirade of Russian words, which Chaline was not able to understand. The man shoved her lightly on the shoulders, with both his hands, causing her to take a step backward as his friend pulled a phone out of an inner pocket of his parka, indignantly punching some numbers into it.
Chaline quickly come to suspect that the rest of her day was not going to be spent as pleasantly as her morning of touring, exploring famous Arbat Street. She had enjoyed inspecting the wares of the street vendors and listening to the strumming music of balalaikas and accordions as buskers entertained the many tourists that flocked to its square. Her premonition was confirmed when a grey car with a blue stripe down either side and a blue, white and red siren on its roof pulled up.
Two police officers in grey uniforms and black hats with a red band slid out of the patrol car, and an impassioned discussion took place with lots of pointing and glaring at Chaline on the part of the tall man and his friend. Chaline stood uneasily by, unable to say a word to defend herself. Finally, the Russian policemen turned to Chaline and asked her a question she was not able to discern the meaning of.
“Ya govorite po-angliski” Chaline said as she nervously pointed at her travel book, hoping they would understand she had said that she only spoke English.
Shaking his head and with a single word, spoken in Russian, which sounded like “Tourista! (Tourist!)”, the largest police officer spun Chaline around, pulled both arms behind her back, snapping a pair of handcuffs around her wrists.
This incident was the beginning of a long and arduous proceeding for Chaline. She would have been entangled in it much longer if it was not for the assistance of the gentle-mannered interpreter, Roman Nicholaevich Sharapov.
He made her feel like the bay on the way to Italy had made the sailors feel as they transported apostle Paul and other prisoners, as if she could let go her anchor, lose her rudder and ropes, hoist her mainsail to the wind and make for shore, eventually, escaping safely to land.
Acts 27: 39-44 NKJV
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