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  • The picture above is of myself and the young English man that helped me understand mashrutkas. The following is a sort of comedic article I wrote about the nature of Russians and their mashrutkas. It wasn't so much researched as it was experienced personally:

    There are three Russian phrases that have been burned into my mind during my time in Moscow. The first being “Peredaĭ pozhaluĭsta.” meaning: “Pass please.”

    This first phrase is commonly heard on Russian mashrutkas. This part taxi, part bus, part van, part cattle car is basically meant to to shuttle people around the city for both short and long distances. Need to get from IKEA to the nearest Metro? (Jah!) Just take a mashrutka! Have to go down a street to get back to your apartment and don’t want to walk because it is way too hot (75 degrees...Fahrenheit) to walk? The mashrutka is the answer!

    The vehicle itself is like a long van. But unlike a van, there is a narrow aisle way with seats on both sides. Passengers may sit if there is an open seat, possibly even next to the sometimes amiable mashrutka driver. If no seats are available you are given the option of standing, just like on a bus.

    Any way, sometimes it isn’t always convenient to pay the mashrutka driver right as you get on the bus. Sometimes the driver has a schedule to keep. So he or she might be putting the the pedal to the metal, thus forcing your first action to be an attempt to seek out and plant yourself in a free seat for stability. Or sometimes you will walk into a stopped mashrutka only to realize your driver is outside having a smoke or drenching his head with a water bottle to cool himself from the blistering (75 degee...Fahrenheit) heat. Point is, sit down first and worry about paying later.

    Ok. So now you are comfortably seated, but still have yet to pay the nice man up front the 30 or 18 roubles you owe him. So what do you do now? Pay on your way out perhaps? No. No. Just sit back, relax and pay from your seat.

    Here is where my favorite phrase comes in. Take the money out of your pocket, purse, or man bag and tap the shoulder of the person sitting or standing in front of you. Then utter the simple phrase “Peredaĭ pozhaluĭsta.”, put the money into this complete stranger’s hand, and watch the Code of the Mashrutka unfold before your eyes.

    What is this mysterious code you ask? In all honesty there is no real official code written down for marshutka patrons to follow. But there is a strange behaviour that an English friend of mine has observed plenty of times during his stay in Russia. He felt it best to name this behaviour the Code of the Mashrutka.

    I digress. Basically, by muttering the magic words of “Please pass.” and then handing your money to whomever might be in front of you, your payment will make its way hand to hand and come out unscathed in the welcoming palm of the marshutka driver. Oh! Did you give too much? The mashrutka driver will pass the change back through the marshutka and into your waiting hands. Yup. That easy.
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