29 November, 2007

Flashback #3: Moscow

One slushy gray Spring morning I was on my way to visit a friend for coffee when I stopped dead in my tracks. There in the middle of the litter-strewn sidewalk stood a tiny green piano.

I tapped a few keys-- the pitch was perfect and I wouldn't have been surprised if an entire herd of Muppets had suddenly crowded around me and burst into song.

Knowing this would make a surreal and welcome addition to the meeting with my friend, I decided to take it along with me. My childish glee soon turned sour, however. This piano was made of wood and it was heavy! After a few more steps I impulsively shelved it on the next low windowsill I passed and kept walking.

Suddenly a man with a big fur hat and even bigger automatic weapon stepped out of a doorway in front of me. My stomach sank as I read the brass plate on the wall next to him:

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Russia

Uh oh.

He blocked my path and made himself very large. "WHAT WAS THAT?" he said aggressively and motioned with the gun towards the edge of the piano which was hanging off of the windowsill of his Embassy.

I'd learned a lot of vocabulary in the three months I'd been in Russia, but unfortunately it did not include either of the words "toy" or "piano".

I smiled and tried to look harmless. "Oh that? It's a toy piano." I answered in English.

I twiddled my fingers in the air helpfully.

Blank stare. He was not amused.

I tried again in pidgin Russian: "only piano. Not dangerous!"

Finally I was allowed to retrieve it and show him that it was, in fact, not an explosive device. I plinked out a few hopeful notes and he looked more confused than ever. He shook his head and bustled me on down the road with my suspicious instrument.

And that is the tale of my musical debut and how it almost caused an international incident...

(Move on to Flashback 4:  Moscow)


Astrid said...

Never underestimate the power of music :)

Greg said...

Okay, you've GOT to compile these episodes into a book. They are wonderful.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That truly describes everything that is Russia to me. Brilliant.

anno said...

What a great story! I'm with Greg: there might be a moral imperative here for you to write this book.

Goofball said...

whaahaa, only you could leave a piano in front of an embassy.