Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen: Please Enjoy Capitalism!

12.30 a.m. in New York City and a sudden craving for none other than a shrimp salad sandwich literally caught me off guard. Having had a full day and only one meal through it all (is it possible to get too engaged in one's daily activities and forget to eat? You bet!) I realized a little too late that a quick bite could only help before calling it a day.

What does one do past midnight about getting a very specific sandwich, given that I'm a bit of a choosy eater when it comes to late-night cravings (always has been the case, not a recent phenomenon, that's for sure) ?

Back in Russia, at least before the whole "Westernization" period when late-night supermarket, 24-hour McDonald's spots, etc. opened throughout the city of Moscow, solving a simple dilemma like this particular one at any given time of the day, let alone way past midnight, would have been next to impossible. Queuing up for hours on end for bread and butter was the norm back than - that is, unless you belonged to the "foreign" circle of Westerners, whereby you were admitted to the "foreign currency only" specialized stores. But that was far from an easy achievement for a Sovietsky person, therefore, I would have been stuck 20 years ago back in the USSR under these circumstances....

However, we now live in a capitalist society and it is, after all, the 21st century - and plus, this is the Big Apple:

10 minutes after the initial craving, I was already paying for my double-decker sandwich (shrimp salad, naturally - as ordered by her majesty!) with a credit card on the Avenue of the Americas.... And you know something - a decade or so ago, all of this would have sounded like a sci-fi fairytale to my post-Communist regime ears.

But hey, that's what makes all of this so exciting - having had the opportunity to experience life on both sides of the fence. Whereas, I am sure, a lot of you, my readers, have long taken all of these "supernatural" opportunities for granted!

They say you should never forget your roots - and I certainly won't (in fact, I'm growing so fond of the whole pre and post Soviet regime collapse history - at the moment I am literally engrossed in all sorts of literature in any way connected to that era!) - but there's something similar to a quiet relief and silent joy in the very knowledge of being able to live and experience that, which back "then" seemed truly impossible.... Unbeatable, really!

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