Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 60. Is speculation business or not?

Some of my acquaintances are surprised that I made up my mind to quit my medical practice and start business. Volodya Fainzilberg says that they do not leave psychiatry; that psychiatry is a diagnosis and it's for a lifetime. Well, but I gave up psychiatry for entrepreneurship, for business. And the business was quite specific. Polygraphy or printing art is what I started my business from after I had left medicine; it is undoubtedly a peculiar business. That was at the "intrepid nineties", and if to remember more exactly, it
turns out that I started doing business even earlier, during my student years. Of course, the word "business" was not used then, and any commercial undertakings of Soviet citizens were called unpretentiously - speculation. In the Criminal Code of the USSR there was a corresponding Article with many paragraphs and subparagraphs, where it was stated in all details for what and for how long. It was my good luck that I was not noticed by the omnipresent Big Brother and a bit less, but omnipresent as well Department of Struggle against Misappropriation of Socialist Property.

Yes, I was engaged in speculation! And will tell you honestly I am not at all ashamed of it, and quite the contrary. I wanted to live a bit better; I did not want to count coins at the end of a month or before a stipend. At that time I already realized that money gave the freedom of choice. Well, and when I got involved in commerce or speculation, by Soviet terminology, I saw that it was hard work as well. Now I will tell you about my commercial initiatives, and you judge for yourself and make a conclusion whether it is easy or not.

Once I flew to Frunze via Alma-Ata on vacation and overheard a conversation of two people at Alma-Ata airport about that one of them was bringing to Karaganda a bucket of cherries he had bought only for three rubles, and in Karaganda cherries cost five rubles for one kilo.
I was right away struck by the cherries' price difference in the two cities. And when I came to my parents to Frunze and went to a Frunze open air market, then I saw that cherries were even cheaper there, than in Alma-Ata. The best cherries cost two rubles and fifty kopeks a bucket. A decision was made immediately. There was one more complicated question for me: how much were cherries actually in Karaganda. I even did not suspect then that I was working on marketing tasks. Luckily at Frunze airport there was a flight to Karaganda; and I came to an arriving flight to talk to the arriving. To by cherries in one city and sell it in another one was qualified by the Soviet power in one word - "speculation". And I, who had just finished his third year at the medical institute, could not even dream of how many different things were meant by the short word.

Nevertheless I made up my mind to go along that path till its very end. And I did that. I had to pay bribes to everybody I contacted with: taxi drivers, cashiers at air ticket offices, loaders at airports, and at that and that place, at a market place for a trading spot, to a police officer in Karaganda (even then cops were covering-up, and they accepted bribes both of money and cherries).
t those days Karaganda was a miners' town; and one hundred buckets of cherries were sold at the market place for one trading day. It was very difficult to organize everything and connect and control, but that was also profitable; the profit not only compensated all the significant expenses, but also brought good gain. Cherries ripening season is not very long, so I managed to make only two or three trips during a season. However even that was more than enough for me. So I told you without concealing anything how I fought with the government's sluggishness in supplying miners with fruit. It was exactly that way in real life.

And I also was trying to struggle against sluggishness of the Soviet power in providing female students of Kemerovo with fashionable at that time clips designed in a shape of camomiles, cornflowers, or small roses. Now I even do not remember the kind they were of. I clearly remember that in Frunze I bought
one hundred for fifty kopeks a piece and one hundred for seventy kopeks a piece. What was the difference between them I do not remember, too. Ilgam Gasanov bought everything from me by wholesale and paid me for those which were fifty kopeks - one ruble and fifty kopeks, and for those which were seventy kopeks - two rubles, and for a briefcase I got a twenty-five ruble note, I had bought it for twelve rubles in Frunze. Yes, I've almost forgot, after vacations I brought with me a couple of men and women mohair scarves.

And I regularly met with Sasha Krakovskiy at a flea market, which was behind Iskitimka. For some reason, he "specialized" in fur hats. Well, I remember he had one made of a seal, a chic one, but one should not buy from acquaintances. Just what the Soviet State Supply Department was thinking about when distributing goods, and how it was distributing them, if nobody bought mohair scarves in Middle Asia, and in Siberia they paid up to two hundred of full-weight Soviet rubles for a women's scarf? It just thought of nothing; and so it finds itself together with the Soviet power and their Criminal Code there, where they are.

So, what was that: speculation or business? And what do you think?

20 September, 2011.

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #21204260487

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content