We sometimes refer to the mall as the "Maul," meaning that it can be a brutal experience. I wrote that yesterday's trip to the mall was tiring, but it wasn't really that bad.
The "crowds"? Nothing compared to a subway car in St.Petersburg. And the people are entertaining. Even the crying kids make an interesting study in how different people discipline their kids. I saw gentle parents, and I saw a frustrated 2 year old sprint away from her mother and hide in a store. One of the more amusing scenes was a multi-generational hispanic family gathered around as a tiny baby had her ears pierced.
I saw the occasional Russian as well. I always find it interesting that they seem to have been living here for awhile, yet have retained enough of their Russian mannerisms that it's quite obvious that they are Russian. I suppose I am refering mainly to their dress. I like that about the U.S., that there is freedom to do that.
It is so easy to spend money! In Russia it is not only expensive, but also not very tempting. It's pretty easy to save my money if I just remind myself of the lines, exorbitant prices, and questionable quality. There are plenty of times when I've walked into a store intending to buy something, panicked about what I was supposed to do, and walked right back out. Here, everything is wayyyyyy too convenient. No wonder consumerism is so rampant!
Then I decided to grab a snack at McDonald's. I took a bite of my fries, and---ewww! They were practically tasteless. But the fries in Russia are good. What happened?