Pustoshka – Moscow
The woman at Pustoshka said it was too late to sell tickets, that the Kassa is closed since 10 minutes. Grumbling, she sold the ticket. The train arrived, I got in. the train stands only 1 minute. The guy in the train helped with the suitcase. The door was shut.
The man in the train put my case in the corner and showed me to my seat. It was the upper one. In the darkness, I couldn’t see much. I somehow climbed up. I could only hear the usual breath of the train and many other sleeping people breathing and snoring. I just lied and tried to think. But somehow I couldn’t think, and couldn’t be fully aware of where I am going and what is going on with me. My life was taking me away from one place to another, or I was taking myself away, without properly wanting it.
I heard people speaking about black tea and cookies. I opened my eyes and closed them again. I was still in the train, with many lively people now. Someone was trying to put something on me – a woman from the “down seat”. She didn’t know there was someone on the upper seat. I let her know by saying excuse me. She asked for pardon. With my eyes closed I kept listening to them discussing how she couldn’t know there was someone. They were sleeping when the train stopped somewhere and picked up this girl. I climbed down. They offered me a tea: my wife had some tea already. You can have it. It is for free. Have some cookies, please don’t be shy. They kept talking. There were three people two women and a man; all coming from Riga.
One of the women lives in Riga, doesn’t speak the state language and doesn’t wish to learn, she lives well. She was showing off, how many cars they have, how much they cost, her daughter has many cars, her husband is such a brilliant man, she doesn’t know anything about public transport, every time she is in a new city, she rents a car, it’s been ages since she was in a bus or underground. Yesterday she went to her hairdressers; everything was fine but the manicure! The hairdresser was boasting about new nail polish, but nail polish was so bad, and her nails look terrible. She kept watching her fingers with excitement and showing them to the rest, but saying how terrible they look.
The other woman with a man, who is her husband, says the same happened to her in the saloon, this is a bad nail polish and one shouldn’t trust the hairdressers. But no, says the other woman, she is a very good woman, the hairdresser, she knows her since ages, and she never lies to her. But this time, it was horrible! The women kept on talking about things like jewellery, dresses and money. The man was looking at them with a kind but somehow neglecting smile on his face. I asked him what he was reading. We talked about Central Asia. He was in Samarkand. He spoke about political and economic situation there. He used to be the minister of education and his wife was also involved in politics. But then at some point they couldn’t stand the political pressure and flew to Spain. Now they have an immobility agency there. And the woman with many cars and no knowledge about public transport changed her tone as soon as she found out who she was talking with. This was so funny. This political couple gave me a lot of advice about what to do in Moscow, where to go, they can’t remember all the names of stations, but they used to study in Moscow, so they know a little. The man helped me with the luggage.
Moscow was strange, I can’t say I have reasons to dislike it, but I also have no reasons to like it. I had a lot of luggage with me, it was all way too heavy to think about liking the city and having a walk around. I just caught a cab to take me to the airport. Before that I did invest some energy to try to get there by metro. But I couldn’t find metro, and there were several drunken men trying to speak English and Russian to me, and who were just asking where I am from, and spoke of anything on earth but how to get to the airport. I was so stressed out by those guys I just went out to the main street and got in the car of a strange taxi driver, who claims he is an analyst.
It was a good deal, 1000 rubbles instead of 2000 to take me to one of the Sheremyevos (airports). None of us knew which one, but we can ask there.
– welcome to Russia zapadnaja prinzessa (western princess) he said.
– I am coming from the West but I am an eastern princess.
– No, you don’t look Eastern.
– But I am a princess of Samarkand.
– Oh Samarkand, he exclaimed. I was there. Samarkand for me, you know what is Samarkand for me? Samarkand! Here what Samarkand is for me. I was in a house of one Uzbek brigadier. The table was full of food, grapes and wine and vodka. His wife was lying beside us half naked, only in underwear. That was Samarkand for me. Samarkand for me was one more thing. I was also in the house of one Tajik brigadier. He also had a table fully laid for me. His wife wore a headscarf, or god knows, one could see only her eyes and she couldn’t speak to us, she wasn’t allowed to us, even his son wasn’t allowed to us. This was also Samarkand. Here is the difference. An Uzbek has a democratic life and a Tajik was repressive. That is Samarkand for me. Samarkand! I was also in Ferghana. There a friend of mine, another Uzbek had 16 wives. He called them and they stood in the line. He told me I could choose any for the night. I chose the youngest. She was 13. He smiled, bus she wasn’t a virgin. I asked him in the morning how come 13 years old is not virgin. He laughed and said he would keep the virgin for himself. This was Ferghana, he was part of Mafia. – And what are you doing in the West?
– Aha, then you have a rich father, mother or uncle
– Aha, how can you study abroad if you don’t have a rich uncle?
– I got a scholarship
– What is it? How does one get a scholarship? Did you bribe someone?
– No, I just applied, participated in a competition, and they chose to help me with my studies in financial terms.
– Aha, there you are a Chelovek (human/man). You are a chelovek with capital letters. I haven’t seen many Cheloveki. But I respect you! You are Chelovek! Nice to see you Chelovek!
– But we are surrounded by many of humankind.
– No, not many. I am a chelovek, and now I know that there is another chelovek, you. And all the rest are cattle. They are stupid, nasty, they are sheep, no… beasts…
He went on about his views about humanity. It was quite interesting, but a little too aggressive. He thinks Russia will go down because of its nationalism and racism. Russian in Russia have nothing, it is the discriminated tartars, chukchas and the rest who sit on all the natural resources and if they get tired of stupid Russian imperialistic attitudes Russia will die. The whole trip was filled with interesting conversation; well it was more like a monologue. I let him speak. I was too knackered.
In the airport a man in police uniform took my ticket and came back smilingly and said I had to go to Sheremetyevo 2. He explained how to get there. There was the tragedy I was expecting and fearing of. There was the luggage limit; it was 20 kg, in my case. My suitcase was 26 kg. My hand luggage was about 24 kg. I tried out many things. Then I decided to take my books and printed material and started reading it in the airport. Things that I have read, I just threw away. About 4 kg of paper went into the bin. Not that I read all 4 kg, some papers I just looked through and thought it wasn’t worth 10 extra dollars. No matter what I did, I made my case weight 24 kg. I had to pay for 4 kg overweight, 1200 rubbles. I met an elderly woman there, she was Tajik. She wanted to get visa to Sweden, her daughter is working there. But they refused her visa in the embassy. The Uzbeks can’t go to Sweden. Later I found out that she was our relative. I helped her throughout the flight. In the plane I was sitting with the young boy from Tashkent but who has a Russian citizenship. He is very intelligent, industrious and committed. He wants to become a doctor. He wants to study in the US, there he can earn a lot of money working as a doctor. Who told him that? His aunt. She married an Iranian American. He is very rich. His two cousins are now studying in the US and living at her house. He will have no problem with living and housing, everything is already ready. The only thing is to get admitted to the university. And I think he will. He is a committed young boy, it is very difficult not to notice it.
At Tashkent airport I heard someone calling my name: Xxxx Xxxxx. I followed the voice. There stood a man:
– are you Xxxx Xxxxx?
Well yes, my brother was near him. I hugged him. I missed him. Where is my mom? She is waiting outside. There was a huge queue, only one security machine. But the friend of my brother let us through without waiting. I was soon out, many eyes looking and searching, and my eyes also searching for my mom. It is a strange feeling of being observed so intensely, like an actor going out after the performance. We went outside. I heard my mom’s voice, the crowd was so big, I couldn’t see her, but I could feel her, I was in her arms. I couldn’t understand where she appeared from. But she found her daughter in that crowd.