At the Kazan Station in Moscow a wanderer named Alik said he'd talk my ear off if I'd only buy him a bottle. I suggested we go to a store and join the vodka line. When he stopped laughing, he said, "Just give me thirty rubles." He snatched the bills from my hand and set off down the sidewalk. We walked ten feet before Alik found what he was looking for. A ghostly woman in a ratty coat reached into her pocket and the silent exchange was done. Alik quickened his pace and we headed toward a place marked CAFE. Three feet inside the door, he screwed off the bottle cap and downed the entire liter bottle in a few magnificent swigs. "Usually, in the morning, I like some potatoes," he said and then stormed out the door, singing.