Page 77 - Litteratteur Redefining World December issue
P. 77

Litterateur redefining world                      December 2020

               dining car might pause for a moment, look out the windows and listen to Michael
               play American folk music. It is odd to feel at home in a land so far from our own,
               and the further east we move toward an absence of western Russian architecture
               or cars or really any sense of village life at all except guards near small royal-blue
               shacks,  the  easier  it  is  to  believe  we  are  moving  across  the  upper  mid-west  in
               America, or across Canada where such vast wilderness might still be possible.

               The first stretch of this trip is not unlike the ride through Nassau County on the
               way from Manhattan to the sparser areas of eastern Long Island. This stretch out
               of the city of Peter the Great has a sprawl of factories and endless roads, empty
               lots, elementary schools not improved in forty years, stores, rows of parked cars
               along  narrow  streets,  scattered  trees,  tiny  stores  with  small  windows  beneath
               Cyrillic words, random garages, industrial sites ad nauseum, and the royal-blue
               shacks. The train makes more frequent stops now than it will tomorrow and the
               stations  here  are  more  crowded  with  men  in  suits  and  women  in  heels  and

               children carrying hard suitcases filled with clothes and toys.

               In the city, changes can be so immediate and drastic, it is numbing. One day it is
               Leningrad; the next St. Petersburg; one day the markets use the traditional ways
               of shopping—pick out your goods from behind the counter, go to a different line
               to pay, return to the first line to turn over your receipt for the goods—the next day
               you’re putting all your goods from the shelves into a cart then onto a conveyor
               belt  where  someone  bags  it  all  and  you  walk  out  like  you  just  left  a  western
               superstore. No transition, no warning, no sense of what-was in the sudden world
               of what-is.  Ironically, in the villages far from the city changes can be as drastic
               yet paradoxically irrelevant.

                       Cabinmate Alexander with author

                  Author buying vegetables from local woman

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