It seems to be something of a national obsession. If you attempt to pay for 344 rubles worth of groceries with a 500 ruble note, the store cashier will ask you, repeatedly, for 44 rubles so that she can give you 200 back. I find that I end up carrying around a lot less change, so this is fine with me – it’s just the insistence on it that is new to me.
Also, we had an adventure with train tickets yesterday. I had originally intended to go back to Moscow on an afternoon train, but Derek had a sudden idea (I guess the wind changed or something) and decided that he had to give us another, better tour on Monday, which means we’re taking the early early train (6.45 am) which meant that I needed to change my ticket. This was an adventure. Between the phrase book and a lot of writing things down and gesturing, the transaction was completed – but we stood in the wrong line twice, and at one point ended up face to face with a woman who was not amused by tourists who do not speak Russian. However. I have my train ticket now, and the last two ladies who helped us appear to have gotten a kick out of us doofus Anglophones who are so at sea around here!