Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
The stuff of geography for me in the early 80s. The Volga River. And I’m here in Nizhny Novgorod (population 1.25 million) on the high banks of where the Oka meets the Volga through the kindness of others.
Six hours east of Moscow on the slow train. I met a guitar teacher in the last 4 hours of the trip and he noticed my little guitar. I played a few songs in the dormitory carriage. And had a few beautiful pieces returned to me. He was a very happy young chap and while his English was limited he was keen to try. The young woman who’d been so fastidious with cleaning her sparkling white designer sand shoes turned out to be an excellent English speaker and a mother of a young boy who was being looked after by her parents in Perm. She lived and worked an studied in Moscow with her husband and preferred her son to be brought up in the relative cleaner air of Perm. She had been laughing at the neighbouring partition’s occupants’ questions of me. The older man Victor had been asking me through the young guitar teacher what my salary was, how much my trip cost and if I was married with kids. When I saw he understood I asked and we then started talking. She was a little apologetic for the standard Russian questions aimed at foreigners.
On alighting at Nizhny Novgorod kind Yuri (who’d taken the seat of my previous opposite when he had alighted earlier) took me under his wing. Two hours later with a couple of ‘no room at the inn’ scenarios he found me a cheap but clean and friendly establishment in the linguistic students college (albeit after a lot of laughs and my broken Russian). I’m really feeling my lack of language now that I’ve left my English speaking friends in SPb and Moscow).
I said goodbye to Yuri. Such an unassuming and helpful man. I’ll probably never see him again.
My Russian is being suddenly exposed for what it is: rudimentary at the extreme. The lovely room attendant and gate keeper just smiles. At least she knows I’m trying.
I went looking for my late night supplies and a happy student bought me the country’s favourite beer (AUD$1 for 470mL). I then went to out to the street high above the valley to watch the sunset alone over River Volga! Such an awesome river. And to think of the mega landscape and catchments it drains!
Walking this boulevard I realised that this must be the midnight parking spot as suddenly scores of cars were parked along the street with youths and young people all clamouring for each others attention. The street drinking culture is huge. I like it. But there were plenty of I’ll effects to be seen.
After hitting the ATM and taking a punt at what the non-English options were saying I successfully withdrew some cash enough to pay the room attendant. And needing to be back before Cinderella hour of midnight I hurried past a 24hr family corner stored and got some snacks. The security lady recognised me and I passed into the student college.
Playing some toons on the guitar, aided by the exceptionally strong ales (8.1%). The guitar is small, probably a child’s and inherently a little out if tune but good for my needs. Accord (Аккор 076;) is the brand. And I expect big things from it!