From Russia With Beer – ALLOVERIST

Taipalsaari, Finland

Alcohol is expensive in Europe, but cheaper in Russia. Parking the vehicle outside the store, he and his friend walk into the store. They cannot speak Russian. But they can understand some. They are in the store on the outskirts of Luzhayka, a border town to stock up on some alcohol. The men do not buy beer in Finland because it is expensive, but beer in Russia is not. They are not particularly worried about attracting the attention of the authorities. They have friends who they can negotiate with.

However they are strictly warned that they cannot spend much time in Russia. Russia does not have free movement policy with Finland, but they have cheap beer. So they make a 70 odd kilometer trip from Taipalsaari in Finland to Luzhayka in Russia that takes less than two hours. The itinerary for the day? Drive to the Russian border check post. Tell the border patrolman that they are going to the store, they have to stock up on beer.

Promise the policeman some beer. The patrolman usually accepts the offer. So they make a short trip further to a store outside Luzhayka, stock up on beer, and come back the same way. They reward the border policeman with beer. After giving the beer to the policemen, they open the gate for the two men to drive to Taipalsaari. A day well spent, and a nice cross border drive.

Finland and Russia too has border disputes like almost all the countries in the world. So he would be stepping into places that has changed hands numerous times. From Finland to Russia, Sweden, and then to Russia. Finland is hesitant to ask for the land back, diplomatic problems he says. But the border patrol is friendly towards the Finnish people but within reason.

Taipalsaari is a small city in Finland that has many lakes, swamps. People build houses by the lake. It has a temperature ranging between -11 degrees C to 11 degrees C. But still the beer does not help us warm up he says.

Narrated to me by Kaln (name changed) a Finnish person I met in Colombo. He lives in Finland, in a city dominated by lakes and swamps. He won a boat in an auction, and came to know about it while we were chatting about Finland.