It’s been about 2 ½ years this trip. We arrived in Yekaterinburg May of 2007 and we are leaving mid-November 2009. I can say what a ride! What an experience! It is the real Russia! It never really changes.
I had a comment from my friend Jim Colt in Boulder asking why do this; why live in a place like Yekaterinburg with reduced services, access to nominal conveniences; really putting yourself up for more of a hard life? I told him at the time that life out here has an edge to it. It’s not the comfortable, cushy American existence. Life out here is, I suppose, like life on the American frontier in the 1870’s and 1880’s…after the Civil War when America was expanding westward, new ideas were prevalent, risk takers were abound. Russia is an enigma and the Urals region is the heart of the confusion. Creating a new life in a new country ever two or three years is not so easy. But we like to think the rewards have out weighed the bad.
· We had a new son – Thomas Michael. Born a Russia, duel citizen of Mother Russia and the United States of America, January 31, 2009. A spunky son of Uncle Sam and Daddya Putin.
· Daughter Nadia has started school here (public school by the way) and has just blossomed. There is lots of homework and she has jumped at the challenge. She has continued her bilingual ways – English and Russian languages. Her hand writing is absolutely beautiful – they actually teach old-fashioned penmanship here. Her sense of purpose and belonging to a group is exemplary. Her self-discipline in taking on her school responsibilities has really shown through. Take note you whimpy American schools…here the teachers use RED pens to grade papers and the students are not having to go for psychiatric counseling. So soft-green pens to change the mood of a graded paper. RED means something and gets attention.
· I found a wonderful outlet for all my life’s experiences teaching to English speakers at the college level and to selected private students.
· Sophia excelled at her job with the World Bank and loved every monute of it.
· We made incredible new friends that will remain for a lifetime.
The Calm of Russia
· I marveled at the fact that kids at my daughter’s school could come on campus with realistic toy guns and the SWAT team didn’t appear and the school didn’t go into lock down and the students didn’t need trauma counseling. Kids are real kids in Russia and they openly play with guns that look real EVERYWHERE!
· I also was amazed that I could walk into a classroom and not be arrested for carrying my Swiss Army knife. This knife has enough blades to chop up half the planet (thank you Jim Colt for this wonderful knife that I use everyday) but there are no metal detectors by the front doors and most important no WORRIES about something abnormal happening.
Banya. The cleansing of the Russian soul. What a great tradition.
Dacha. A place to retreat with forests, a small house with spartan services for one’s peace of mind.
Family. Russian do it right. It’s the extended family of old.
The Bad and the Nutty
· Since my mid-2007 arrival I have been stopped by the “militsiya” (cops) 20 – that’s twenty times. Before leaving Colorado in 2006, I had been stopped 2 times in thirty years in California, Florida and Colorado driving as well as a cross-country jaunt when we moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Denver.
· Out of my 20 stops I was asked to pay money to the nice policeman 4 times. I resisted each time – actually kept talking English – which most police do not speak and they finally gave up. I come from America – a place where crooked cops on the take are the exception not the rule. In Russia corruption is so prevalent that cops routinely have their hand out for money. A crooked cop is a crooked cop – kinda like the Obama gang from Chicago or the Corzine mob in New Jersey – leaves a bad taste in your mouth no matter where thugs and corrupt officials are.
· As we leave Russia, Putin is angling for a way to make a Presidential comeback. We all know how popular the Obamasiah is in the States….can you imagine in the U.S. changing the Constitution to allow him to run for office indefinitely?…that has now happened here in Russia – more corruption and “monkeying around” with things that should be sacred and set in cement. You don’t abuse a constitution like has happened in Russia.
· Bad roads don’t go away and the government bureaucracy that oversees their construction are painfully slow in getting new roads built. Favorite rear window sentiment on cars here “F**king Roads!” – in English by the way!
And now to Kiyv (Kiev)…….
New life, new expectations. Kiyv is a bigger city by a million and has it’s own exciting tempo, a large expat community and guess what – NEW OPPORTUNITIES!. Sophie has a new position with the Bank and me – well I’m starting over like I have done so often in my life – teach in the university, asset/facilities management, digital printing, sales and marketing for a winery…….who knows what I might do. No guarantees, just opportunity. How else to approach life. Talesfromkazland will now be offering stories about life in the capital of Ukraine and it’s surroundings. I can’t wait and all of you stay tuned for the further adventures of the Lynn’s – now on the road in Ukraine beginning 15 November 2009………