Farewell My Friends
Excerpt from the book
RUSSIA: A JOURNEY TO THE ARCTIC
Wednesday May 25
I am quite tired today. I must have worked hard getting pictures and observing. Many of the tests finished up today. I also beat the computer two of three. I played a few games of chess with Anton. They were all very good games. It was one win and one loss, although Roman helped me a lot in winning. I must sleep now. There is total daylight at this time of night.
I realized what a difficult life people here, live in. Basically, these are army barracks (living quarters) with no running water and no toilet facilities. There is an outhouse with a hole in the ground. Life with democracy is getting worse. There is 12% inflation/month. The man next door ate Tatyana’s dog. No cats here, they are all eaten by dogs.
Thursday May 26
Today, Thursday, is my last day here at the laboratory with my wonderful hosts. I will cherish forever the fine times I had with them. It was nice to share their meager lifestyle, and break bread with them. I enjoyed their fellowship and simple meals usually consisting of oatmeal porridge and tea for breakfast, and fish soup, a boiled egg, two cookies, and tea for lunch and supper. It was like a home away from home. I think these days I spent with them perhaps has given me the best reflection of what Russia and her people are really like. I experienced its hospitality, generosity, and soul. I found so often of those I met in Russia, that the poorer they are, the more they have to give, especially from the heart.
The days spent here are in stark contrast to that night when I first met Roman at the hotel, then walking silently alongside him, down that desolate road leading to nowhere. Now, instead of wanting to be “anywhere but here,” I found it hard to leave, knowing that I was going home to a land of luxury, while they had to remain behind.
This evening, hidden under my bed blankets, I left them some canned food, small tools, souvenirs, playing cards, gifts, and about US$10.
Tatyana gave me her home address in Moscow. I showed them pictures of my relatives and family. It’s kind of sad to think such wonderful people have to live in such poor conditions.
As so often is the case, when I got back home to Calgary, Canada, I once again became absorbed with the daily rituals of our fast paced, modern society and with the lavish entertainment it offers us. Although Tatyana gave me her home address in Moscow…I never did write her.