Estonians are never late, I remember telling Tatjana and Guillaume the day before. But now I was in the middle of nowhere, crossing fast the motorway just to get on the right side of the road. The bus to Ovsjanka was due in 10 minutes and I was far away. Probably I pissed Tatjana and Guillaume off. Never listen Drake on a public transport again. I guess I started imagining that I also dated Rihanna or something.
When I arrived to Aerovokzal my friends were not angry. We passed the x-rays and scans and guarding policemen. (For some strange reason I always feel like a terrorist in Russia, when in public places. Krasnoyarsk is quite okay but moving around in St. Petersburg was really scary. Bus stations, metro stations, public parks, always filled with dogs, police men, Omon, army guys. )
The journey made me want to sing Yellow Submarine. Then I looked at many babushkas and thought of fatty piroshkis. They looked at me and thought, that weird foreign guy. I fell asleep and woke up in Osjanka – the birthplace of famous writer Viktor Astafvjev. So fresh air! I felt my lungs cleaning. We also visited his museum and saw his house. I really liked his summer room and writing room. Viktor was a very religious man, there were saints all over his place. Also for me was interesting that all contemporary Russian presidents had visited his museum.
We also took the journey through history by visiting houses, where he spent his childhood. I tried sewing with old methods, carried water like women in recent times. It was interesting to see that they used to bake cookies with Russian Federation emblem.
But my favorite part was to walk in this village. See the amazing wooden church. Hear the barking dogs and see one lazy dog strolling with us. I thought to steal this dog and bring it to my host family as a wedding gift. ( I guess they would not have liked it). But then we arrived to Yennisei river. I became mesmerized. Blue, fresh, calm water. I felt free. Rocks and trees and fresh air. It did really look like French Alps, as my radio contact used to told. I missed in Estonian being in nature a lot. I was partying or doing crazy stuff most of time. Or working long hours on stupid jobs. Now I felt I am back. Back where? Somewhere. Back to myself.
Oh boy did the fresh air, sun and beauty did tire us. We decided to have lunch near the supermarket. 2 guys were rebuilding Apotheke, and 2 women were drinking and chatting. Later those women moved to the bus stop to drink and smoke. I guess their life was interesting. Near the village shop me and Guillaume were eating pumpkin seeds, and I felt we were like kopniki. Time to move, I thought.
We finished our journey in Dvinagorsk. I heard from one person that it is paradise. I rather agree with my friend Sergei, who said it is an open air museum of Soviet Union. Broken stairs, long baradas, broken parks, square of Lenin and a lot stairs. Due to my knee I could not climb so much to see the riverside with Tatjana and Guillaume. I was also angry.
I was approached by Andrei The Dvinagorsk Boss. He asked me cigarette in a really rude way:
“Дай мне сигарету!”
Then he was really disappointed. Looking like he did not like this cigarette.
“ Noo laddnoo,” – anwered, and just walked away! No thank you! I was really pissed off! You get a free cigarette and you act like primadonna and do not thank! Next time go to supermarket, urod! ( As one my friend always used to say, when somebody asked him a cigarette)
I have written about Russian hospitality and that is true. However, for me two things are annoying here. Most of the times – let´ say every 7 times in 10 – I am asked cigarette very rudely. In Estonia we ask very politely, because we annoy by asking anyway, so we rather make it softer. There we ask very politely like:
“Hey, I am sorry to bother you, can I ask you…” or “Hey, I know it is not polite but can I …”’
Here it is more:
“ Give me! “ or “ I want!”
I know Russians love to be direct. I do not mind, if I get at least small thank you. But next time I see person like Andrei the Boss, I will say: go to the supermarket for cigarettes!
Another weird thing with Russians is that they usually do not greet strangers and even neighbours. When I first arrived and greeted all my neighbours and cashiers, they looked me at me like I am an alien or terrorist. That something is wrong. My hosts told me that they only greet people they know. Also smiling when greeting is not a good idea. My Russian teacher Irina gave me a homework to read about Russian society. There was written that smiling at person you do not know means you are laughing at them or their clothes. I noticed many serious faces and walks in Russia. Not so much in Krasnoyarsk but a lot in St. Petersburg. The article described it well: it is the face of disgust of its surroundings, showing that I do not belong here, I belong to Paris. It is nothing so suprising for me. Estonian is filled with the same faces. But the difference is that in Estonia you can at least smile.
Wait! Maybe I just smile like an idiot?! Oh, yes.. my mission. Did Cheburashka really go to Japan?
written by Krismar Rosin
pictures by Guillaume Guigui