Book Description

Gambling cruise. Deviation

Opanas Vilyarko

The main character, Opanas, the program director on a tourist boat, falls under the pernicious influence of gambling. In his story, he tells how to get rid of addiction, following his method of DEVIATION. He takes you to the wonderful world of travel along the Danube. Shares his thoughts on sin and temptations. This book will be of interest to people who love to travel and those who want to get rid of destructive addictions.
Gambling cruise. Deviation

Opanas Vilyarko

© Opanas Vilyarko, 2021

ISBN 978-5-0053-7991-7

Powered by Ridero Intelligent Publishing System


By the time of writing the book Corona, the virus across the planet is already on the decline. I’m not a psychologist. (Psychology. This term, which calls the science that studies human mental activity, was borrowed from Latin, where it was formed by the merger of the Greek psyche – “soul” and logia – “word, science.” My name is Opanas, and I am a cruise director for ships sailing on the Danube. Mostly from Passau to Budapest and back. Everything in this work is true, with the exception of fiction. I tried to express my thoughts and emotions as accurately as possible after passing this thorny path from sin and temptation to truth and freedom.

I will summarize my journey in eight easy steps. I hope that these steps will help others not only get rid of gambling addiction, but also from any other addiction. The method turned out to be quite versatile.

Quite often I use quotations from the Bible.

I think it should be said why I, from time to time, make references to the Bible. First, this Book of Books is the best-selling bestseller in the history of mankind. It consists of 66 books. The books have been written by different authors for at least 3 thousand years. All these books are about one thing, about God and his plan for man. There is a famous quote from the Bible: “You cannot serve two masters, God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13). This phrase prompted me to study the problem of gambling through the prism of the most common book on earth. In addition, if you want to get rid of addiction: smoking, alcoholism and gambling addiction (devilish triplet), it will be difficult for you to do it yourself. You cannot pull yourself out of the swamp by your hair, unless you are Baron Munchausen.

Well, let’s, together with our main character Opanas, go on this dangerous journey, on a gambling cruise on the Danube!

Chapter 1. Bratislava

Proverbs 26:11 – As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

Spring in any city in Europe is the most pleasant time of the year. And now, walking along Hviezdoslav Square in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, I enjoy the cool and invigorating air. The aromas of blossoming flowers are caught in the air. Nature, and I together with her, are awakening from hibernation. Bratislava and Vienna are considered to be the most closely located capitals of Europe. The Austrian and Slovak capitals are separated by only 55 kilometers. One of the streets of the capital of Slovakia smoothly turns into the street of a neighboring village in Austria. We have already looked at the most unusual monuments in Bratislava, such as the monument to the photographer who sneaks around the corner of the house, and the most famous monument – “Man at Work”. It is a bronze figure wearing a helmet and a jacket, climbing out of a manhole. He was often run over by motorists, so a special sign was placed next to him.

Tourists with a guide went a little ahead. Usually, accompanying the group, I follow the travelers from behind. The guide can be heard perfectly through the audio system.

  • Dear friends, have you exchanged dollars for euros? Asks Eva, an experienced local guide who speaks English.
  • Yes, yes, my Canadian team replies.
  • Fine! If there is someone who has not changed yet, then on the left you can exchange dollars for Slovak euros. I hope you all have Slovak euros?

Some Canadians did not understand the humor and began to worry that their euros, changed in Austria, would not be accepted at the souvenir stalls in Bratislava. That’s why I love experienced guides. They feel the client, do not load him with unnecessary information and, giving the necessary information, they joke unexpectedly and intriguingly (not to say shocking).

For reference. Euro is the official currency of 19 countries of the European Union (which includes Slovakia). The Euro is actually the currency of some countries outside the European Union, such as Andorra, San Marino, Vatican City or Monaco. This is formalized by special agreements. But there are also countries that use the euro without agreements, such as Montenegro, Kosovo and the islands of the wealthy Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin in the Caribbean.

All coins have a common reverse part showing the denomination. The design of the 1-, 2- and 5-cent coins symbolizes Europe’s place in the world. The reverse of the 10, 20 and 50 cents shows how EU member states come together – notably, non-euro members are also depicted. Finally, the 1 and 2 euro coins represent a Europe without borders. The drawing of all coins contains 12 stars.

Each country in the eurozone has its own design of the obverse, national side, coins. This is what our guide’s joke is based on. Looking at the obverse of the coins, my Canadians most likely saw the obverse of Austria, Germany, France, but not Slovakia. Which was the reason for their bewilderment.

At the beginning of the tourist season, I usually accompany the groups. After a month or two, it gets boring, and I discover other entertainments in each of the cities along the tour route, and these are Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Sometimes Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are added to them. Yes, you say, but where is Moldova in the list of countries which the Danube crosses! (we have cruises to the Danube Delta). Moldovans have only 300 meters of territory adjacent to the Danube. This gives them the right to be called a maritime power. Well, okay, tell me what sights they have to see in Giurgiulesti? They got the territory on the Danube only thanks to Ukraine, in exchange for a part of the Odessa-Reni highway. But that’s not the point. Let’s go back to Bratislava.

The previous name of Gvezdoslav Square is Promenade Square. I like this name better. This is the main street, as for me, in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. In Moscow – Red Square, in Kiev – Khreschatyk, in Paris – Chanz-Elise. In Bratislava, this street square is located on the left bank of the Danube, in the southern part of the Old Town, between the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising and the Slovak National Theater. Opposite the theater is the former Söldfa hotel, from the balcony of which the Hungarian national leader Lajos Kossuth proclaimed the revival of Hungary. Emperor Franz Joseph, scientists Albert Einstein and Alfred Nobel stayed at the hotel. Now on the site of that hotel is the Carlton Hotel. And now, passing by the monument of one of the leading Slovak writers, Pavol Hvezdoslav, I turn right and head towards the most expensive hotel in the city, which was designed by the creator of “Titanic”. Unlike the Titanic, nothing happened to her … it’s still worth it. But I do not go into the main entrance, but a little to the left, into the casino …

Intrusive thoughts … In fact, one that has been haunting me for a couple of years. Place a winning bet on one of the numbers in roulette. One, then another. This is the third year that I have been addicted to gambling. The series of numbers that will bring me the maximum winnings. Each euro invested will bring 35 euros in income. A bet of 10 euros will bring 350. The maximum bet on a number can be 40, 100, 1000 euros, depending on the casino and the amount of the winning can be … count yourself. In a short period of time, playing carefully with the available funds, you can quickly earn 100, 200 and more euros. The main thing is to stop in time. But, unfortunately, for an avid gambler, any winning amount will not be enough. The electronic roulette ball moves in the opposite direction from the stroke of the 37-digit disc. Ultimately, he ends up in the nest with not my number, the one that I put … PASS again. Each roulette player has his own strategy, his own tactics. Even if there is no tactics, then this is a tactic to play without tactics)). Here are some of the most common player behaviors. If a six is ​​rolled, the next will be a nine. If 23, then 32 is obligatory. Here 31 appeared on the scoreboard. It’s a pity I didn’t add a couple of euros to this figure, this is my favorite figure. The next will be necessarily 13. If the number is 11, then we traditionally bet on 22 and 33. And do not forget to bet on 9. How can you forget your birthday. Each has its own fetish figure. Then on the birthday of the father, mother, etc. This is a continuous cycle of numbers. The roulette wheel is already familiar by heart. You can easily draw it from memory on a piece of paper and paint the corresponding numbers in red and black.

The experience of being able to see structure or relationships in random or meaningless data is called apophenia. The term was coined in 1958 by the German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Konrad, who defined it as “an unmotivated vision of relationships” accompanied by a “characteristic sense of inadequate importance” (abnormal consciousness of meaning). Sometimes, when I was heading to the casino and suddenly saw, for example, a passing tram number 28, I thought it was a sign. It was necessary to bet absolutely on 28. Naturally 28 did not fall out. This is a prime example of apophenia.

Today I wanted to play with this hellish machine, limiting myself to only 50 euros. But then he emptied his wallet and started pulling 100 euros from the ATM, and then another, and another. Having lost 550 euros, I started to get lucky. My fetish numbers fell out. In a quarter of an hour, I already had over 800 euros. And then real excitement appears. The roulette bet does not fall below 50-60 euros at a time. Having dropped to 650, I was determined to take the money and leave the casino. I took the money … and went happy … just not out of the house, but on the “live” roulette with the dealer. With real chips. The pleasure is completely different. Well, I think I’ll play no more than 50 euros. And, to my surprise, from the very first rates I doubled them, and a minute later I dropped everything. Well, okay, it’s still a winner. Before leaving, the electronic roulette beckoned me again. How can you not play? I’m at zero. With what I came, with the same I leave. It’s like I just came to the casino. All my money is with me. I’ll bet on my favorite numbers as usual, and if they don’t fall out, I’ll go home. And then the roulette began to play the welcome music. Apparently 50 euros came to her taste. And the remainder of the bet is displayed on the scoreboard – ZERO. How so? So everything was fine just 15 minutes ago? I squander another 100 euros and then another 50 and so on until the limit on payment from the card is reached. I am leaving with a total minus of 950 euros. Naturally, I’m angry with myself. How faint-hearted I am. The phrase “Are you a gambling addict? Isolation and debt. You cannot stop. Call the number … “. As a rule, this message can be seen at the entrance to any casino. But I am not isolated. There are no debts. Life goes on. It’s time to go to work …

I really want to eat. Missed lunch with tourists. It’s good that there is Eva and she, as an experienced guide, is able to take care of the group herself. But in an amicable way it is not good to leave the group. This is my job. You need to learn how to balance between “need” and “want”. In general, I spent about 5 hours in the casino. I swear and swear to myself that there will be no more of my legs in the casino. An hour later, rummaging through my pockets, I find another 55 euros. And having forgotten about my promises, I again come to my place in front of the tape measure and poke my finger at the numbers. The beginning was good, but the result was ZERO. I go to the cashier. And with my mind I understand that it is time to leave, it is time to get rid of this habit. It’s time to admit that I am completely consumed by the pernicious temptation, that I am possessed and that this will not end well.

The image of a homeless person from Budapest, whom I saw recently sitting in a park on a bench with a bandaged head, pops up before my eyes. He was shouting something in Hungarian, waving the exact same casino member’s card that was in my wallet. And then the image of a woman, essentially a girl, who, sitting on the ground at the entrance to the casino, in the same Budapest, shed tears. Without a doubt, it completely played out. And, nevertheless, I go to the cashier and withdraw another 100 euros. If the limit for cash withdrawal from an ATM is reached, then there is a limit for card payments and it is higher. That is, by withdrawing money, I kind of make a purchase. In this case, a commission of a couple of euros is charged from the card. But you don’t pay attention to this pair of euros when one of your bets is at least 10-20 euros. The only thing roulette teaches is how to part with money with ease. Each casino has a cash withdrawal service. When I receive cash, there will be no exchange. A commodity is money. And now another 450 euros have disappeared.

I go out into the city and check my bank account balance on my smartphone. 2037 euros. Money lost today will be withdrawn in two or three days. But yesterday I also withdrew and lost 400 euros. Before that yet. If only there were three or four hundred left to pay for the communal apartment. But, the result is not comforting. Lost pay for the previous month and half of the current salary. Great start to the season. Spring is not over yet, and I am already in the same financial situation as at the end of winter. No savings and little debt. Yes, maybe I earn a lot, but not much remains. One thing I can’t figure out. Knowing that I would lose, not believing that I would win back, without the desire to play, I still continued to empty my account. No one whispered in my ear, “Go to the casino,” no one really dissuaded me from going there, except myself. My free will, my decision … totally my sin.

Sin. You will probably be surprised to learn that the sin of one root with the verb to warm (the word is formed with the suffix “x” in the same pattern as laughter). Originally, sin meant “that which burns, torments.” The Greeks, however, used a different word, meaning “miss, error, offense, missed the mark.” The Greek word perfectly conveys my sin. I play when the ball does not fall into my numbers.

As in a nightmare, I continued to drive myself into a negative. Man is truly incapable of resisting temptation. Whether it is alcohol, cigarettes or some other obsession, there is no strength to resist the harmful passion itself. After 3 years of playing, I am not profitable from the casino. Moreover, I lost round sums not only at roulette, but also at Black Jack and a one-armed pirate, and at sports betting. If you think about it, I could buy a small apartment for a lost amount in a city with a million inhabitants somewhere on the seashore. Now is the time to admit that you need to do something about it. I myself cannot break free from the bonds of temptation. Hellish roulette beckons, addicts, makes you think about it even at the moment of writing these lines. By the way, why “hellish roulette”? It has long been noticed that if you add up all the numbers from 0 to 36, you get the number of the beast from the last book of the Bible, Revelation from John 13:18 – 666. It was interesting to see in Vienna, in a casino, an additional number on the roulette wheel. 00 – double zero. It is also called American. There is 00 between 23 and 10. That is, there is even less chance of winning, but the sum of the numbers remains unchanged.

So it was decided. We must look for ways to get rid of addiction. Where to begin? I do not know yet. I’ll think about it tomorrow. We need to consider options, diagnose the disease. Only fools repeat the same nonsense constantly. Is there really no way to force yourself to stop? On the other hand, if tomorrow a brick falls on my head and it will be a fatal outcome of my life or worse, will I become disabled? Wouldn’t I be sorry that I didn’t dare to do crazy things like playing roulette or blackjack? But as Woland said in The Master and Margarita: “A brick doesn’t fall on anyone’s head just like that.” And if the Almighty wants to send me a lot of money, he will find a better, unexpected and righteous opportunity than gambling addiction.

Having lost more than 2,000 euros, I console myself. I say that I would spend this money on a new computer. Well, I won’t buy it … But the old one is still working, even though it is already 5 years old. Before that, I had already given up on a new phone, tablet, new car…. Isn’t the desire to buy new things the same sin as the desire to sink all the money into the abyss of roulette?

The only real mistakes in life are those that we make over and over again, they are those unique cases on the way to the acquisition of knowledge and truth. In my opinion, knowledge is the greatest treasure. No wonder the only thing that King Solomon asked of God was wisdom. Glory and wealth came to him with wisdom. In some article I recently read that the richest man of all times and peoples was King Solomon.

It’s good that there is work. She then distracts me from the game. If I didn’t have a job, I would probably spend a day in a casino. And I would have earned money in some other, not very Christian way. Well, okay, wait and see.

Hello sadness

After writing her debut novel Hello, Sadness! Françoise Sagan received her first book fee – 1.5 million francs. The Sagan family was very religious, so my father immediately advised to get rid of the money: “Spend it immediately, because money is a big trouble for you.” Françoise did just that, buying a used Jaguar with some of the money.

At a time when she did not have money, she promised herself the first prize for her books “to walk madly.” True, she dreamed of buying herself a small apartment, but she drove these thoughts away from herself. After all, the promise given to oneself must be kept. Therefore, the writer went to a black-and-white party in the spa resorts of Honfleur and Deauville. Having spent almost all the money, she went to play for the rest in the casino. Sagan loved the numbers 3, 8, 11 – these were her cherished numbers. Having lost almost all the remainder of her former luxury, she bets almost everything on 8 black and wins. By the morning, she had already beaten the casino by almost 300 thousand euros (at the modern rate).

After beating the casino and finishing the most expensive champagne from the bottle, she went to look for her hotel.

They say champagne confuses thoughts, intentions and roads.

Soon she saw a very pretty mansion, from which a picturesque view opened up. It was a private family hotel.

After getting out of the taxi, she got into a conversation with the owner of the estate, who said that the hotel was overcrowded. Then Françoise replied that she wanted to sleep and was very drunk. The owner just shrugged his shoulders, they say, nothing can be done. Françoise asked, “How much is the house worth?” And when the owner called the amount, she opened her bag and dumped the money on the counter. And she declared in a staggering voice to the shocked owner that she did not want a room, she was buying the whole hotel.

The owner barely found the strength to ask what to do with the guests, to which Françoise replied that they should live until the end of summer, and she would take the mansion in the fall.

Françoise Sagan spent almost her entire life in this house. She called it “The House of My Heart”.

The writer emphasized that this house is her “only property on Earth.” Today this house is the house-museum of the writer.

“I will never know enough, never, to be perfectly happy. Never, that I was possessed by a certain passion that captured my whole soul … But these minutes of happiness, harmony with life, if you call them correctly, play the role of a blanket, a patchwork-consoling blanket, which is pulled over a naked body, driven and trembling from loneliness “, – by Françoise Sagan.

Chapter 2. The beginning of addiction

In the New Testament, “mammon” is the personification of wealth, from serving which the believers are warned: “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate one and love the other; or he will be zealous for one, but not caring about the other. You cannot serve God and mammon ”(Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13)

Matt. 12: 30-32. He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I say to you: every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men; if anyone speaks a word against the Son of Man, he will be forgiven; if anyone speaks to the Holy Spirit, he will not be forgiven either in this age or in the future.

Any gambling addict, and any person should ask the question for what he lives and what purposes it serves. From the Books of Matthew and Luke, two facets of the human being can be seen. We are, in fact, faced with one choice – serving wealth or serving God. An obvious conclusion emerges from this. If you don’t carry money for good deeds, don’t donate it to widows and orphans, but bring it to the “temple of Mammon” – the game room, then you will certainly not see eternal life. And the “fiery hyena and gnashing of teeth” are already waiting for you in eternity.

Also Matthew writes in verse 12:30 about another watershed. Either you are with Me and you collect, or against Me and waste. It was to these verses that sometimes thoughts at the gaming table led me to when I bet on “my” numbers.

Where do you get these thoughts from? After graduation, I spent one semester at a theological seminary. I attended only 2 modules: “History of Christianity” and “Christian Ethics”. Various situations were considered. Is it possible, for example, to cover yourself with a grenade without a pin in order to save friends standing nearby from an explosion? After all, in fact, this is suicide. It was exciting. For some reason, the local missionaries of the Presbyterian Church recommended me for free training as a pastor. It’s amazing that 20 years later, I still have some Bible quotes popping up. Naturally, I do not remember which book they were from, but with the help of the Internet links are found very quickly.

Toulon – the city where it all began

Three years ago I did a one-year training in Toulon, not as a pastor, but as a hotel manager. I wanted to finish the cruises already. There was a desire to settle in some hotel or camping on the Cote d’Azur and wait for old age and retirement. But if you want to make God laugh, then tell him about your plans.

In Toulon, I met Romka. Roma – a Frenchman from Normandy was 10 years younger than me, we became friends. One day he called me to the casino. I was not a gambler, although I consider myself a gambling person by nature. I turned him down a couple of times, but on the weekend, our whole group decided to go out to the casino. At this point I could not refuse.

But first, a few words about Toulon and Var. Var is a department in the south-east of France, one of the departments of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The serial number is 83. The administrative center is Toulon. The population is over a million people. The Côte d’Azur owes its popularity among vacationers to its pleasant climate – mild and warm winters are replaced by cool summers. According to one version, the name was invented by the French writer and poet Stéphane Liège, who was shocked by the view of the “amazing beauty” of the bay of the commune of Hyères – in 1870 he published a novel called Cote d’Azur. The Cote d’Azur begins in Toulon and further east to Monaco. It is in Var that Saint-Tropez is located. The most expensive land on the planet is located around the Saint-Tropez golf course. The richest people in the world buy their villas here. These are closed territories and no mere mortals have access to them. But at one time I worked as a security guard and had access to posh territories with mansions. My favorite spot in the villa was the pool area. There was always a soft corner there. When guarding the villa at night, the pool area is the best place to take a nap for an hour or two. Pools generally do not have cameras.

Toulon is also notable for its location. On one side is Mount Pharon, on the other is the port, where the most important naval France with barracks is located. And not only France, but the entire NATO. It is the only port where repair work can be carried out on France’s only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.

So on this day, our group of future hotel managers decided to go to the suburb of Toulon, La Saint Sur Mer. For a long time (1711-1989) it was an important shipbuilding center.

To get there, you had to use public transport. In our case, it was a sea tram, in fact, just one of the small ships that picked up passengers in the port of Toulon and brought them to any of the suburbs of Toulon. In our case, directly to the casino – the first parking lot or to the port of the commune of La Saint Sur Mer, in the center of this town with a population of about 60 thousand.

At the reception, visitors are required to show their passports or ID cards. The casino must make sure that we do not have a ban on entering the casino. We are offered to issue a subscription card. We refuse. There is a game machine at the entrance, on the screen of which I see one very popular and beloved singer. I immediately insert a 10 euro note and win 40. Roma, my friend, is surprised at such an unexpected luck of a beginner. We move on. For roulette. This is Roma’s favorite game. To explain the rules, he inserts 20 euros into the receiver and immediately loses everything. He, in frustrated feelings, gives way to me and leaves for another table. The principle of the game is very simple. You need to bet on red or black, even odd or numbers. My 10 euros in a couple of minutes turns into 150 euros. I am glad and want to leave. But this is not an option for my friend. Fellow students scattered in all directions in the casino. I joined them at the live roulette table. Not electronic, but with a real dealer. There were many elderly people sitting there. I remember one granny dandelion. She asked me to put her token on 4, since she herself could not reach. As it turned out, it was her birthday. The old people were actively communicating with each other. The atmosphere was cheerful and relaxed. One old man said that he did not want to leave his inheritance to his children and grandchildren. But since he can’t take it with himself, it’s better to “come off in black” on Lazurka. Some support him.

The first impression of the casino was very good. Gradually we became addicted and began to go there together more and more often. At the end of the training, we were given a couple of months to independently work on our thesis. In fact, we spent almost every day at the casino.

We met with Roma in the port of Toulon.

  • Alors, quel bateau va-t-on prendre? (Which ship will we board?) – I asked.
  • N’importe lequel, au hasard. (It doesn’t matter which one, random) – answered Roma.
  • Allez, on va faire une croisi? Re du HASARD (Let’s start a gambling (random) cruise.) – I laugh it off.

In French, the word “passion” goes back to Spanish or Portuguese, where azar – “blind chance, risk.” And the primary source is the Arabic zahrt – “dice.” Derivative: gambling. In French, the concept of les jeux du hasard can be literally translated as games of chance.
So this casual cruise became a gamble.

It was very pleasant to cross the Toulon bay. From the ship one could see a number of restaurants in the port, Mount Faron. On the left, along the way, there were huge ships carrying passengers to Corsica. A little further, there was a dry dock gate for the repair of ships, including the military. On the right side were military ships. One of them was really impressive. It was one of the Mistral-class universal amphibious assault ships – from a series of 1st rank French universal amphibious assault helicopter carriers, one of two which Russia ordered, but due to sanctions they remained in Europe. Subsequently, France returned the money to the Russian government for the Mistral.

The ship can simultaneously accommodate: 16 multipurpose helicopters or attack helicopters of the Eurocopter Tiger class; 4 landing barges; up to 60 armored personnel carriers, up to 70 trucks, up to 13 main tanks of the AMX-56 Leclerc type and 450 soldiers (up to 900 people for a short time). A hangar with an area of ​​1800 m2 is provided for helicopters.

Three ships of this type, “Mistral”, “Tonner” and “Dismud” are in service with the French Navy.

The contract for the construction and supply of two Mistral-class ships for the Russian Navy was signed in June 2011 and terminated in May 2015. In September 2015, Egypt agreed with France to purchase these two Mistrals. On October 10, a purchase contract was signed.

One story comes to mind that happened in this era. It was about this, my first casino, it was really an entertainment center. There you could play a wedding, a birthday, or attend a concert. There is everything for every whim. Restaurant, concert hall. Gorgeous sea view, and of course the casino. To be honest, neither casinos nor betting games have ever attracted me before. I remember going into a game room in the former USSR to exchange euros for local currency. I was very disappointed with the smoky hall and gloomy atmosphere. But the new “temple of entertainment” on Lazurko was something fascinating. It was very pleasant to be there in the hot summer. Air conditioned room, free drinks. The window overlooked the sun-drenched sea. Naturally, no clocks on the walls. By evening, the shutters were closed. Every small win was very pleasant and of the end I took it and left the casino. There was no temptation to stay. It was clean, legally earned money that was not subject to tax declaration. As a rule, it was 100-150 euros. And so, after another trick with fellow student Romka, after the casino, we went to the “Russian store”. In France, such shops are a common thing, in more or less large cities. Grocery stores are usually opened by immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The main visitors to these shops are also expats from the Union. In these stores you can find buckwheat, pickled cucumbers, condensed milk, Russian beer, halva, Ukrainian vodka, herring, etc. That day I was with money, my friend completely lost. By common agreement, the winner would treat the loser to dinner or beer. Approaching the checkout, we found that the cashier, a muscular man, spoke Russian. To celebrate, I tell him that we were in the casino and I won about a hundred. His reaction confused me. The first phrase that flew from his lips was: “Spend this money on yourself, buy a shirt, watch or something else and never go back to the casino.” When asked why he told us his story.


End of introductory snippet.

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