I was waiting for boarding at Malta International Airport, non-EU departure zone, “Moscow – Sheremetyevo” – on the display. Reading “Desert solitaire”, next to me – tall, blonde, quite western-looking man. “You know when?..” – he tried to ask something in English. “He’s Russian”, I guessed. “Ask me in Russian”. We continued speaking in Russian. “I thought you are a foreigner”, I said. He replied “So did I. You were reading in English”.
Three Spanish guy tried to buy food at the local destinations departure zone of Sheremetyevo airport. None of them spoke Russian but they did not look confused unlike the waitress who did not understand a word of Spanish. Was glad to help them with translation, at least, two years of learning Spanish were not in vain.
Confusion started right after checking out of the Astrakhan airport. Taxi driver decided to pick up someone else together with me and I had to sit on the front seat, next to the driver. He was a typical Russian crazy driver – no safety belt and full speed driving. Suddenly, he noticed road police and slowed down, holding the safety belt as if it was locked and telling me to do the same thing. “I’ve done it straight away”. Smirk. “I see, not OUR people, no”, he said.
Finally, I got home. I did not even realize that I was mixing English and Maltese words when speaking to mum. It pissed her off. “You’re like an alien!”, she said. The “cool” day continued at the supermarket where I met our neighbour, a lady in her 50s. She asked me “Have you got married” – the very first question a Russian woman asks a girl over 18. “No, I have not”. She expressed her condolences “Oh, men are bastards, you know. If they don’t like such a girl, what do they need?! Well, perhaps, you can get a baby for yourself, not to be completely alone”. First signs of irritation woke up deep inside me. Why am I surprised, though? For a typical Russian woman, successful marriage is a main goal in life. “Poor ones”, who did not manage to saddle a man before the age of 25-26, are almost condemned and treated with a great suspicion. I heard this neighbour whispered to the other curious lady “Oh, what’s the reason to look good if it is all for nothing? She’s missed it!”.
Could not say that farmers at the market looked friendly either. One asked me “Do you need radish?”. “No, thank you”. “Of course, why would this queen need radish?!” – she almost exploded from indignation. – “We did not studied, we worked hard picking vegetables at the farm!”. “What’s wrong with you, people, today?!”, I though but did not say aloud.
I think, I know what was wrong with them. They wanted this life, all about shopping and nice cars. In 90s they wanted a change not for freedom of speech but for rather a prosaic reason – shelves full of goods. Nowadays, freedom of speech is not much better than in 70s, but screw the freedom. They have supermarkets full of food and shopping malls, that’s important. The only dilemma is where to find money for this all. For a woman it is easy – she only needs to catch a rich man. She has to be a quick, good hunter, otherwise someone will be quicker. Unlucky ones have to work hard, selling radish, for example. They all need to do something to buy as much as possible. How can they live happily without a new iPhone or iPad? Nowhere I feel so alien as in this place called “motherland”.