Freelance writer from the capital of Germany came to our country more than once, so he has something to tell: he’d learned to drink vodka, what mixed feelings he is experiencing from Russia and Russian. About Michael Kumpfmueller said in a small travel article (translated from German):
My sense of Russia
When I think of Russia, I want to scream. And after the fourth trip, I still don’t understand it. But I was uncontrollably drawn to her. Travel notes.
My little beautiful experience connected with Russia: I every time there incredibly happy.
Every second I’m completely miserable in Russia, just lost, annoyed, if something does not work, outraged by the state of the Russian soul, not to mention the millions of dead who here and there to appear throughout the country, but not all will find refuge and peace. But still, and maybe that’s why, in the end always appears a naive sense of happiness or emotion. I wonder it’s my own stupidity or is it something that to me is irrelevant, because it comes from the historical depths? For example, there is the divine music of Shostakovich and Stravinsky, no less divine book of Chekhov, Dostoevsky, and Gogol, all of them are exactly experienced, and described Russian paradoxes and fatal fate.
When I think of Russia, I want to shout: because of human misery, which is like a robot programmed to return in a new guise, and knowing that, people fall into desperate hope at every opportunity, fall into the mad belief in the goodness based on a handful of meetings with people, in General, belief without reason.
And after the fourth visit, I still do not understand Russia. To be honest, I’m not trying at all, because any attempt could destroy my faith, fragile sympathy if you want, my musical memory.
“The statue on the background of blue sky in Tomsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-1-768×432.jpg)
To explain my reckless love for the Russian, I need to tell my story, which belongs to the later years of Stalin’s rule from 1946 to 1951. About five years my mother, a German, lived near Moscow in the town of Klin. She, her five younger sisters and two older brothers and, of course, their mother and father. Before the war her father worked for the company “Schott” in Jena, he was responsible for the production of baths for melting glass. And then in the framework of the reparations he and a couple colleagues went to Klin to recover the glassworks, destroyed by the Germans in 1941.
So my mother lived in Russia: 10 years after the first arrival in the autumn of 1946, and for nearly 15 years, when he returned in January 1951. She still speaks flawless Russian, which she is very proud, and she was the only one in my family who never uttered a single bad word in Russian. In the winter of 1946-1947 was a lot of Germans from Thuringia in this cursed Russia. It is no secret that the stomachs themselves digested, it was possible to starve to death, but the Russian was doing the same.
My mother spoke of a sense of justice all her life she was a staunch social Democrat and may have hated Communists, but certainly not Russian. There in the Wedge she had a friend named Lucy, my mother and I went to visit her in 1998, and may all your trips to Russia, I have sought to find the Lucy or Russian voice of my mother, which I also have, well, or what I still have. But in any case, I have my mom’s story.
“The author in the Moscow hotel” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-2-768×432.jpg)
I prefer to travel using the services of with the remarkable Goethe – Institute, there are almost always there are wonderful people all over the planet, and I admire their highly successful political work. They are always very good when you are invited to come, but what I most appreciate is how good the plans they develop, and then say how, where and when you can do. I want something to do when I travel, so I was delighted with the offer from the Goethe Institute in Moscow to make a 10-day trip to Siberia with a visit to the Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Irkutsk and to call for a day at the lake.
Just the name, Siberia, excited my imagination. When I talked about the trip to friends, they wrinkled foreheads and wished a good trip. Of course, there was camp (and is still), there are vast expanses of cold, although, my trip was in may, and the air warmed up to 20 degrees.
“Dumplings in Irkutsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-3-768×432.jpg)
Most travel I enjoy the food, of course, it tastes better after a long day of work. Russian cuisine bribed me since childhood. My mom makes great soup, dumplings with sour cream, salads with fish and chicken with beets or peas, which turned into incredible meals during the holidays. In Moscow I ate Georgian food in Novosibirsk Uzbek, and I could try all the cuisines of the former Soviet Union, because such restaurants can be found all over Russia. Now the dish is even better filled than in the Soviet period, although not everywhere and not for everyone.
Vodka, too, was in these travels, I confess, even before dark. Just remember his friend and interpreter Michael, one of the most helpful people I’ve ever met. With it I cut a bottle of pepper vodka in Moscow in 2012 and in Vladivostok in 2014 several hundred milliliters of white. Since then, he thinks of me as his student in matters of drinking vodka. He told me a million times and explained that vodka should be drunk before eating, not after, as is customary in Germany, and that it is impossible to put the stack after the first, second and third toast we need to continue to eat and drink.
In Irkutsk there was a ravioli the size of a tennis ball that you first need to take a bite and suck the juice, the process I didn’t like, I was like a big baby, but they say the fun is in the process.
“Birches in Tomsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-4-768×432.jpg)
I was struck by the Siberian landscape as soon as I saw him from the Windows of the train on the way from Novosibirsk to Tomsk. For 4 hours we drove just past two towns, and so visible only birch forest in all possible variations. I like birches, I would like to walk around in them, lie down on the lawn, but for some reason I always imagine scenes of shootings, the work of their grandfathers, who with the dawn are going to kill the commissioners and rebellious civilians, or as the Communists kill Communists, although I don’t know, did they birch forests. In Germany in Brandenburg or Saxony know that still find the remains of those killed in the Second world war, Michael told me that in Russia, too, find them.
Water in Siberia is also full of testimonies of misfortune. Our guide told us Tomsk tearjerker, but I don’t trust them, it’s a legend, made-up story. The longer the dead are dead, the less they frighten us.
“On the train between Novosibirsk and Tomsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-5-768×432.jpg)
As for the three Siberian cities that I saw, they cannot be called beautiful. Venice or Rome are beautiful, but the Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Irkutsk interesting. Not because they are still Soviet, but because they illustrate how chaotic and disorganized, incredible may be the city, the well-planned urban beauty, and an untidy collection of various signs of the past. The beholder so it is unclear that there is a dominant monument to Lenin or capitalist shopping center with a restaurant, fast food, or the beautiful wooden houses that are still in the running as in Tomsk and already rebuilt in Irkutsk. Everything else eye open panel buildings, vacant lots, dilapidated territory of a factory, a café in the style of the postmodern and howitzers during the great Patriotic war in the center of Irkutsk.
It seems to me that these urban landscapes give the head and eyes a little extra work you seem to get drunk while walking around this space, and the transition from one epoch to another for no apparent reason to stay long in one of them. As a simple tourist to cope with all this, and what to do to live here, but I think that the residents cope with this task and feel at home.
“The red banners of may 9 in Tomsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-5-768×432.jpg)
Speaking of politics, it is impossible to speak, so to speak. Michael is in a primitive state of intellectual, you can talk to him about everything: the camps, as they were before, and today, about the situation in Crimea, Ukraine, about Kafka, but, as regards the person, his values here and now, and especially in Russia, Mikhail does not speak about it. Questions about the policy are welcomed by an eloquent silence. Want to talk about Putin? There is no better. Stalin and the years of terror? Yes, has had some problems, but not everything was bad.
Going to the Museum of the NKVD took place, it is the only place in Russia that affects the time. But there is another ponderous monument to the victims of terror engraved with “Bolshevik terror”.
Talking in a cafe with a young German woman, who runs a practice in the German academic exchange service, I learned that many Russian girls do not even have the slightest idea about contraception. The same thing I told my mother in 1981, when he returned from a prolonged trip to the Soviet Moscow.
“Street corner in Novosibirsk” (http://www.zeit.de/freitext/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Bild-7-768×432.jpg)
While I’m working on an article I get a sense of “Russian-ness” that all this damned and blessed is Russia just to is to such a person as I have a sense of connection and unity. While there, these sites appear immediately on the map of life, become part of it, but with Russia I have a problem, because it is a place where always want, who yearn, whatever the reason.
I know I need to go there the next opportunity to at least just to meet again with the wonderful Michael and again to learn from him drinking vodka. We became friends and I hope that maybe he might want to come visit me with his wife in Berlin.
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