I need to thank Teffi for his amazing book From Moscow to the Black Sea which inspired and made me go on this adventure. This is the Soviet story told through a couple of snapshots. A backpacking adventure through Russia earlier this year. Out of more than 1,000 photographs. from Saint Petersburg via Moscow, Kiev, Odessa to Transnistria.
I eat chocolate, listen to Ella Fitzgerald and have my head leaned against the window. I can see a small ship from 22k feet up in the air. Then we are landing, what huge buildings and apartment complex where people are living. Communism where all people were supposed to be equal life on equal terms. It is all gray, so many huge complexes in the middle of nowhere. Such wide horizon as far as your eyes can see. Electricity polls, then an abandoned property, next to it four to five houses, all fallen apart. The first Russian letters, torn shreds. We are landing in Saint Petersburg. At the tarmac, a female worker with fur hat talks to her colleague. The wind blows through her hair.
The bus drops us off at Moskovskaya, a huge street with several lanes. On the sidewalk, babushkas sell delicacies. I feel their circular eyes beaming towards me. While waiting for the Underground, my heartbeat syncs with the numerical display for the next train to arrive. We find the hotel and zap through the national channels, a soap opera looks strangely similar a show from my home country. Inebriated, we float through spacious, multi-ethnical streets and stare at big houses continuously catching glances of facial expressions and different clothing style. Ukrainian folklore singers won’t take their eyes of us while we have supper, exquisite raspberry mint juice, and dumplings. Under the dramatic red sky, we wander past the Church on Spilled Blood. In the heat of the ever burning fire at the Palace Square, we warm our frozen fingers. The northern twilight turns the scene into a sublime moment. Everything is different, I’m not surprised to see people holding their hands directly into the flame.
I see Russians poker faces. Nudging me, urging me, daring me to find out what’s hidden. The culture closed off on the street but once you step into a person's home, you will find an incredible hospitality and friendship. If there is one country in the world which has the numerology incorporated as a form in society, that must be Russia.
The past meets the future, in the present. you can't appreciate the glory of life if you don't also appreciate the dark side of life. People become living testimonials to things which no longer exists. Things keep happening seemingly out of the blue, like – for instance – this adventure coming to a close. We have our last breakfast. Pigeons flying in the air as we find our way to the taxi. “Excuse me? Can you hear me? Are you yourself carrying the entire history of our Soviet motherland?”
So leave this a draft. A thing I meant to show, a thing I never finished.