Soviet Voodoo

Oooof. Finally fixed a rather nasty bug that was depressing me most of last week. This and a nice little poem by reminded me about a few superstitions of my childhood.

There was no subway in Odessa, but we had buses, trolley buses and trams. Poorly printed pieces of bad quality paper served as tickets. The system was somewhat interesting: the driver wouldn’t check the tickets. You had to board with your own ticket and perforate it in a weird looking wall mounted press inside. If during a spot check you didn’t have a perforated ticket, you’d theoretically be fined. In reality everybody except the few unlucky loosers would perforate their ticket in the nick of time.

So, back to superstitions and luck bringing rituals. Every ticket had a serial number. A lucky ticket was considered to be one, in which the sum of the first three numbers of the serial would be equal to the sum of the last there. If you found a lucky ticket, to gain some good luck, germ or no germs, you had to eat it. Here’s what one (actually this is an even more special palindromic lucky ticket.) would like:

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Then there was the “Chicken God”. That was a name for a beach pebble with a hole in it. The hole was supposed to be of a natural origin. A chicken god could be worn on a necklace. To wish on it, you would look through the hole at the sun (getting half blind in the process) and speak your wish.

Update: tells me that they are called “Holey Stones” in the US and the tradition is somewhat similar.

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Oh, and the black Volga. In the Soviet Union a black Volga GAZ 24 was a car of choice for various party functionaries and other important people. A kid who’d spot one would usually mutter a little rhyme “black Volga my luck, which nobody can pluck” (“чернаÑ? Волга, моÑ? удача, никому не передача”). Hey, I am no poet.

(image from