Archive for Чижик Пыжик

Chizhik Pyzhik robbery

Posted in Fun facts, Spotted in St. Petersburg with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2009 by Alec
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The Chizhik Pyzhik monument on the Fontanka canal.

The monument to Chizhik Pyzhik looks just like it sounds, diminutive and a little absurd, and at 11 cm, it’s perhaps the smallest tourist attraction in the world. It’s a statue of a bird positioned midway down the side of Fontanka canal near the Field of Mars. You wouldn’t notice it walking by if not for the gaggle of tourists and couples trying to throw coins onto its tiny ledge, like one of those old-school carnival game.

Well, Saturday night as I was walking home around 1 a.m. it was a bit of a different scene. Passing a lone figure looking down at Chizhik Pyzhik, I naturally stopped to see what he was watching. There down below stood another sketchy type in waders, apparently scooping up coins with a red shovel.

“What are you looking at? Interesting?” the lookout growled at me.

I muttered something to my interlocutor and walked further onto the nearby bridge to get a better vantage point. Yes, these two depraved individuals where stealing the very coins on which so many boyfriends, girlfriends and Japanese tourists had made a wish.

When I recounted this to my host brothers, they hardly batted an eye. “They must have really wanted to drink,” Maxim said.

Indeed, the statue itself has apparently been stolen several times, so let these gopniks (dude who hangs out drinking in the street) have the change.  When I passed by today, the stockpile was already replenished, glistening like sunken treasure amid a hundred years of sea dust.

Incidentally, the statue was built in honor of a rhyme that recounts the drunken exploits of students at the nearby Imperial School of Jurisprudence, who were called “Chizhik Pyzhiks” because of their yellow-and-green uniforms:

“Chizhik-Pyzhik, gdye ty byl?
Na fontankye vodku pil.
Vypil ryumku, vypil dvye –
Zashumyelo v golovye.”

“Chizhik Pyzhik, where have you been?
On the Fontanka drinking vodka.
Drank a shot, drank two –
It made a racket in my head.”

My host father is big into this rhyme; he has a tradition of making all foreign guests learn and recite it.  I’ve already had my first ordeal, and I think I made the grade …

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