Winning Tricks and Dodging Bribes on the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Alcohol and card games. Buttering up the Russian cops.
At the time of the incident, my new berth mate Michael and I had already been riding the Trans-Siberian railroad for days. We’d covered a lot of ground — both geographically and personally. We’d crossed three time zones and thousands of miles of taiga. We’d pined over exes and explicated the grand inquisitor chapter of “Brothers Karamazov.” But now, three days in, endless green trees and tired anecdotes of adventures past bled together, inducing a delirium unique to spending too many weeks on the road.
Making matters worse, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me the card game Michael was trying to teach me. I don’t remember its name. I just remember it was some abridged-deck hybrid of hearts and spades, and that Michael kept winning.
I was about to throw in the towel when our cabin door slammed open and two Militzia — Russian police officers — entered without asking. This was the beginning of a familiar story: Russian cop accosts tourist, inspects passport…