Monday 13 July to Sunday 19 July
Leaving Orion. A visit to Moscow. And a few reflective thoughts...
Before my visit to the Orion Children's Community I received many questions about how I might cope with language and cultural differences. During an excellent night out in June before my departure a couple of ex-Davenham colleagues joked about this but all in good humour. All people I had spoken to were genuinely supportive and never negative about my intention to visit Orion. During my stay I found my hosts to be capable English speakers, and modest too often not realising how good their English is and how well they are teaching the language to the children (as well as French). My comparative smidgen of Russian and understanding of body language from many years of relationship building in business also assisted communications. The use of Google Translate was kept to a minimum as that somehow felt like cheating. And as for cultural differences?...
There are, of course, cultural differences but none that would prevent any decent normal person from making new friends once ice is broken and there is that basic share of trust that all good people seek. Time passes no slower in rural Russia than in the suburbs of Southern England and although its passing was with familiar speed the time spent at Orion was intensely shared during meals, work and recreation (including tea drinking) as would be expected when living within a community. I was sorry to say goodbye when I needed to.
I left the Community earlier than planned because of the ill-health of someone important to me and my family and to whom we wish a speedy recovery. Upon hearing the news I chose to leave Orion so that I would be closer to Moscow. The decision was because travelling out of rural Russia would be difficult for me if I was needed elsewhere at short notice.
A family I became fond of was Zhenya and Masha Malinin and their 2 boys. They were always warm and welcoming to almost to the extent of feeling virtually adopted myself. I spent much of my working time with Zhenya and readers of my blog will know how much I enjoyed Indian tea, brewed by Masha. The whole family were great company and kindly gave me a gift of framed photos (left) of Orion on Christmas Day 2015 (celebrated in Russia on 7 January). The vertical rays of light ("light pillars") visible in the larger pictures are a natural phenomenom created by light reflecting off ice crystals.
The artisitic handwriting of "Борщеви́к" ("borschevik", the fast growing toxic plant referred to within my previous blogs) and a favoured stone containing crystals also included in the photo above were both given to me by their eldest son, Met'yu. Anyone who knows about boys will know what an honour it is to be given a valued item from their collection of natural objects.
My journey to Moscow was by bus with a travel time of just over 2 hours and costing 55RUB (approx £0.70 - I can't recall any journey I have ever taken as reasonable as that in any country, even over a short distance). It is a comfortable route and provided me with a relaxed alternative view of the country and its people which perhaps wouldn't have been observed quite so well from hastier travel by car.
It was not part of my original plan to visit Moscow's city centre but upon being given the opportunity to do so I was bowled over by the contrast compared to my visit to the City 20 years earlier. It is a stunning place with much to see, even if you only have a half a day to take in the sights like I did...
My conclusions? I think these are evident from the content and tone of my blog's pages. Even so, I'd be delighted to take a call or meet with you to discuss my trip and have a general catch-up, perhaps over a cup of strong tea which I'm now rather partial to...
Many thanks for reading this blog and contributing to it.
Best wishes, Ian/"Moorti"
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And finally, some more Russian humour...
Ivanov applied to the Communist Party. The party committee conducts an interview.
"Comrade Ivanov, do you smoke?"
"Yes, I do a little."
"Do you know that comrade Lenin did not smoke and advised other communists not to smoke?"
"If comrade Lenin said so, I shall cease smoking."
"Do you drink?"
"Yes, a little."
"Comrade Lenin strongly condemned drunkenness."
"Then I shall cease drinking."
"Comrade Ivanov, what about women?"
"Do you know that comrade Lenin strongly condemned amoral behavior?"
"If comrade Lenin condemned, I shall not love them any longer."
"Comrade Ivanov, will you be ready to sacrifice your life for the Party?"
"Of course. Who needs such life?"