I was preparing to permanently move back to Russia after 20 years in the United Kingdom. Many things were unfamiliar to me at the time, and these ‘first impressions’ make for some interesting reading. The stories take place in 3 cities – Voronezh, Moscow and Naberezhnye Chelny.
My recollections will be published in short regular installments, so make sure to check my blog for new entries every couple of days. Please remember that these diary entries were originally written for personal reasons, and were never supposed to be published. The humour may not be to everyone’s taste, and some of the events and situations described here may be slightly exaggerated.
On the 26 of May 2011, I (Dmitriy Igorevich Polovinkin) arrived in Voronezh Russia. This is the city where I was born and spent the first 6 years of my life. Upon meeting my father, my cousin Natasha and my uncle Vladimir, it was an early night. The adventure of the summer began the following day.
My step-mother Marina and I decided to explore the nearby woodland that leads to a beautiful small beach. In the woods I saw dragonflies bigger than my thumb hovering like little helicopters. I saw orange soldier beetles and bugs with claws. It was as if I was in a David Attenborough nature program.
From my first morning in the Motherland, 2 things struck me as extraordinary about my country: The grand splendour of the architecture and the women.
The buildings are towering behemoth structures averaging at least 15 floors. These are not office blocks or government towers but residential apartments that are dispersed across the skyline, every one of them a community within itself.
In the UK people tend to associate high rise accommodation with poor and deprived communities, full of crime and dirt. This is not the case in Russia. Almost everyone lives in high rise towers and everyone takes pride in their surroundings. Outside every block one can see children playing happily on swings and amongst flowers. Although admittedly, the same places host organised fights at night. One of which I was lucky enough to see. Within minutes of the fight's end, the two competitors were laughing and exchanging compliments over a beer. It was the spirit of competition as opposed to the love of violence. The women in Russia are breathtaking. Due to a home cooked diet of natural ingredients, Russian women are the most beautiful in the world. In other countries, true beauties are very rare and men settle for the best of a bad bunch. I’m obviously very handsome, so it’s no surprise that I’m dating one of these Russian beauties - my darling Galina. She is also overly smart, kind hearted, genuine, funny and interesting.
The 28 May 2011 was a very important day. It was the 85th birthday of my Grandfather (from my mother's side): Pyotr Cornilovich Neodachin. The man is a celebrated jet pilot. My Grandmother Lydia prepared the most amazing lunch for the family. It was fit for royalty. Prince William and Kate Middleton may as well have gone to McDonald's for their wedding reception because it is highly unlikely that any food imaginable could be better than my Grandma's cooking. The members of my family that were present included my good self, Grandma and Grandad, My Mother Elena and her husband Peter, Uncle Vladimir and his wife Nina, Nina's sister Lyuba and her husband Pyotr (another Pyotr, very popular family name), my cousin Natasha and her cute little daughter Sofia. I say little... At only 2 years and 8 months, Sofia needs clothes that are designed for 4 year olds. She is VERY tall for her age, and very smart with an incredible capacity for vocabulary. This is very common in our family. I'm the biggest idiot out of all of us.
Yet, in the UK I am considered a genius. Anyone who argues this should have a look at my list of qualifications. They should also remember that I was drunk when most of these qualifications were acquired. I'm a genius... and so modest too. After pleasantries and stories were exchanged for a good 3 hours, the conversation turned to politics. Grandma Lydia explained that when the subject of politics was discussed, this meant only one thing: the men of the family were now officially drunk. She subtly suggested that the celebrations should come to a conclusion before the arguments started. Grandma Lydia is a very wise woman who has seen this type of thing before.
The end of the party was followed by an overnight train journey to Moscow. Along with my father, I began the next part of my tour. Read about it soon…