Patriotic Billboards. 80% of the economy is controlled by the state, so it's no surprise that the primo ad real estate went to the country itself. Along with ones that showcased cops carrying babies and soldiers cuddling puppies (not really, but sort of) there was this series of I Love Belarus signs (top and bottom, above).
Deconstructed Bloody Marys. Every time we sat in a cafeteria, bar, bakery or public bench, there were people drinking vodka and tomato juice - never mixed, always in two separate plastic cups. At 9 a.m., in Novogrudok, we watched as a pair of fur-clad, older women ordered two cream filled pastries, two shots of vodka and two cups of tomato juice. Somehow, when a bloody mary is deconstructed like that (and being enjoyed well before 11 on a Tuesday morning) it strikes you as something a little different than your average brunch.
Uniforms. If you worked behind a counter in Belarus, you wore some sort of uniform. Sometimes it was a visor, sometimes an apron with fluffy white sleeves attached. At one cafeteria, the server looked like she had a doily pinned to her head and the manager wore a paper crown. It seemed a little degrading to tell you the truth.
Saving Electricity. We could never tell if a business was open, because the lights were always off or dimmed so low that it was impossible to tell they were on at all. This picture was taken inside a restaurant and was the norm. The dedication is very impressive though, especially as you walk through a museum and there is someone standing in the corner of every room flipping the lights on when you enter and off again when you leave. Then, they each sit back down in their chair and continue to read - in the dark.
Exact Change. This is the change we were left with after leaving. 1,980 BYR, which equals about 60 US cents. There are no coins and eleven different banknotes (10 - 100,000), which can be pretty tricky to get straight. So, usually, the cashier would just reach over and start thumbing through our stack of money to take what she needed, trying to get as close to exact as possible.