Аннотация: Предлагается прямой перевод на английский язык популярной в Австралии книги "Австралийские Ветры". Эта версия книги поможет вам в освоении английского языка, а вашим англоязычным партнерам понять русскую душу!
Михаил Свиридов Mikhail Sviridov
Из Австралии с любовью
From Australia with love
ИЗДАТЕЛЬСТВО "ЮЖНЫЙ КРЕСТ"
Preface to the Translation
The book "Australian Winds" has already found its popularity among the Russian speaking readers. However the translation is now available for the English speaking readers as well. In the first instance, the translated version attracted the attention of couples in mixed marriages, where a partner was interested in a closer intellectual union. Furthermore, the translation attracted the interest of recent immigrants from other than the ex USSR countries - as their problems are indeed similar.
Even though this is a direct translation into the English language as opposed to the literary treatment of it, one can still follow the Russian humour and satire. A number of the Australian partners of the "Russian Brides" promptly responded to the discussions related to the family migration in the book. It was on the basis of the positive perception of the translated book, that caused animated comments towards the "Russian beauties": "...yes, that"s exactly right, they arrive here with three diplomas to their name; they spend all day talking on the telephone, but they don"t know any English and cannot even get a job..., or ...she can"t even drive a car, and doesn"t even know how to pay the bills or use the credit card!"...etc. The feedback on the book from the Australian women was quite interesting as well. Surprising as it may sound, but they confirmed similar complaints directed towards their Australian partners. These problems are probably not so much of a national ethnicity, but general problems, which exist between men and women of all the nations on the planet Earth.
The book also contains discussions related to the culture and traditions of other countries. In particular, this book contains a chapter, which is dedicated to Fiji; it mostly offers information on geographical data and immigration matters, which would be of interest to possible migrants from Russia. That chapter has been excluded from the English translation, as it would be of no particular interest to the English speaking population.
A further edition of the book and its translated version attracted a revived interest of the Australian public, after viewing a television program on the Russian brides on the Australian Channel 9. Biased treatment and distorted presentation of the facts evoked a deep negative reaction from some of the past and current "Australian suitors and their Russian brides" as well as from some members of some Government Funded organizations such as the Immigrant Women"s Support Service and the Immigration & Legal Community Services in Brisbane. A complaint has been lodged with the relevant authorities and is currently under review.
I invite you to switch yourself on to a channel of humour and satire, ignore the literary imperfections of the direct translation and enjoy! And if you specialise in editing or publishing of material - you have a rough diamond, which you might like to polish off.
A SHORT ESSAY ON SIGNIFICANCE OF A SMILE IN OUR LIFE
"In virtual darkness, I managed to single out, with difficulty,
the dark silhouette of a friend who came to meet me. It was
impossible to guess whether he was happy to see me because
he had the grim look on his face. Yes, Australia spoilt me indeed."
Mikhail Sviridov. "Wind of Changes"
This book combines two authors under its cover. Even though their coming together in this book is almost accidental, there are some elements of logic in that accident. They are both products of the Soviet system. They are both scientists. By pure coincidence they both happen to be men. The subjects of their curiosity, depicted in the book are Australian people, their morals and customs, and the effort of a new migrant from the ex USSR to adapt to these traditions. Both writers possess an satirical view of the world. That is, thank God, where their differences begin.
Both authors paid particular attention to the fact that to smile was an everyday occurrence in the life of Australians. The fact that they came across a smile at the very beginning of their tales could surprise anybody, but not the post Soviet person. The serious look was always valued in our country and that is why it is often difficult to differentiate between wedding and funeral photographs; perhaps only by their dress. Another peculiarity is a passion for cliches. It could not be any other way. In order to stand by your opinion, in any way, it was necessary to support it with an opinion of a proven authority. I invite you to open any page of the pre-perestroika period, where you will find endless masses of citations from Marxist-Leninist theories often applicable but not exact. If one could not manage to find a relevant citation, then there is always an old saying. But even if that lets you down then there were always word of mouth phrases and words, which would bail you out. One of my favorites, for example, is "a feeling of deep satisfaction". They learnt, with a feeling of deep satisfaction of "the successful multification of a pig, the launch of another satellite, or of a glorious victory of the Soviet hockey players...." you could add your own from there. The skilled eye of the Soviet reader looked for and always found a full meaning, a dangerous hint, or simply a smile, behind these cliches. Here, we are back to the smile.
Both authors in their notes resorted to cliches, but these were special types of cliches - they were satirical. "Human beings must part with their past, laughing". Who said that? You are wrong! It was Karl Marx. That is why, paying tribute to the past with a smile, Paul Angel names his opus by a pseudo-spying and terrible name "No Room for Error" (he becomes alerted and breathes in). Mikhail Sviridov presents us with his "Wind of Changes" from uncultivated lands (of Russia) where the reader becomes pensive and dreamy. That is where they both tricked us! Maybe that is exactly what they intended. Then let"s take a closer look at the faces of our authors. The resourceful editor presents their resumes for the occasion.
Mikhail Sviridov went through a long path of life - from an ordinary scientist to an exceptional migrant with literary ambitions. His past was like something you wouldn"t believe in! Mikhail entered the Moscow Institute of Electronic Machinery Construction in the same year that the writer of these lines completed her Secondary School, which was exactly opposite the Institute separated by such a narrow alley that you could make faces at each other from the windows across the alley. For Moscow with a 10 million population that is quite an interesting coincidence. However I had to come to Australia, in order to get my chance, at last, to make faces.
Thus we continue. Mikhail managed to combine, quite successfully, his scientific and music activities. That lead to his acceptance into the Union of Composers (a very prestigious body), he published a collection of poems, completed his Ph.D. in the area of Computer-Electronics and Mathematics. He published six books in his field and somewhere along the line he received an award from the Central Committee of the Young Communists League for his scientific achievements. His next step would have, probably, taken him to the Academy but the perestroika interrupted this course. These past few years allowed us to observe Mikhail at the forefront of the conception of Russian business. In his role as President and proprietor of a company Phoenix, he set up a Centre for Scientific Programming and Information Technology, shops, restaurants, a furniture factory, a video library, an export-import agency, a tourist bureau, a company dealing in construction, maintenance and interior design and decorating.... I warned you that you would not believe it - but it"s the truth. Though that is not all. We would not have enough paper to list all his roles. What really amazes me, is that he managed to retain his excellent state of health after all that!
"Notes of the Settler", in my opinion, was an effort to try and find a sensible answer for the unfolding events, not just from the point of view of a migrant, but from that of a scientist as well. That is where the economic outlays, figures, attraction to generalize and analyses come from, in his text. In addition to that theoretical analysis, there is also that of the delicate matter of a personal relationship between a man and a woman. Whether that needed to be subjected to such an analysis is for the reader to decide. I also feel that the reader would not find it uninteresting (that"s another wonderful Soviet expression!) reading chapters dedicated to Moscow, where Mikhail"s literary talent especially shines. We reserved the right to include a fragment, dedicated to a trip to Fiji, in the book for obvious reasons. Though, I must make a personal comment that, where a scientist starts to overshadow a literary writer, there is a strong desire to intervene and explain who happens to be the boss in the house of literature. Having balanced on one leg on the edge of a precipice of theoretical conclusions, our writer grabs the rescuing rope of satire, and we both rush forth on the high winds (of changes!) from history to history.
Our wonderful Dr. Paul Angel is well known to his friends for his wicked and, at the same time, kind smile. He was probably meant to be Dr. Aibolit (a protagonist of a Russian children"s story, who was a great healer of animals) and then become a writer. In his autobiography "About Myself, the Favorite" he writes: "I was born .... exactly three years prior to the monetary reform of 1961 and exactly thirty kilometers from Leo Davydovich Trotsky"s birthplace, in Bobrints. During my birth, no medical personnel were present, except my mother a gynecologist. (Mum indulged in some champagne the day before resulting in complications during birth).
During my pre-school years, my main hobbies were fishing in a pond and building boats to sail in the local village puddles. My productive activity was gathering of horse manure to be used for building my grandmother"s mud-hut and forced participation in toils on private farms. According to eyewitnesses, I dreamed of becoming an "saboteur of the Soviet Union".
I completed School No. 11, which was famous in Kirovograd and its environs without any particular scandals. My favorite pastimes during my school years were mathematics, chess and reading the newspaper "Pravda" (Truth). My favorite foods were speck (pork fat) with garlic, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes (but no vodka).
Following in my mother"s footsteps, I went to the Kiev Medical Institute and completed it with a gold medal, specializing in general practice. On completion of a three-year clinical internship, I defended (from my opponents) a Ph.D. in the field of cardiology (it was a very interesting topic with a 12 word title....) I successfully combined medical theory (produced a multitude of scientific articles and theses in four languages plus a few monographs - addition from the editor) with practical experience of a medical practitioner Pheumotological and Cardiological departments of the October Hospital in Kiev. My political views were of the following sequence: I was an Octyabryonok (follower of the October Revolution in primary school), then a young Leninist pioneer, a convicted activist of the Young Communist League, a graduate of the Marxist-Leninist Institute, Faculty of Highest-Level of Ideological Personnel, but in order not to be some party member, I joined the Ukrainian Green Party.
I came to Australia at the insistence of my older sister (who remains in Moscow). After two and a half years of active and interesting correspondence with the Embassy, I arrived in Australia in January 1993 as a biomedical scientist and remained working in that position for a year in Sydney.... I did not even dream of working as a medical practitioner in Australia. However, limited funding of the Scientific Research Department at St.Vincents Hospital in Sydney, where I spent 8 months as Senior Laboratory Assistant, forced me to look for another job. I was greatly surprised when I was offered a position of Registrar at the Launceston Hospital in Tasmania. In the two years of my working there, I managed to pass all the examinations, for foreign doctors, in medicine (I was very lucky!) and obtain full medical registration in Australia. Then I did rotation shifts in Queensland hospitals for one and a half years.
A few years prior to the collapse of the USSR, I met Lenochka Monahova from Tashkent at a scientific conference and married her in the end in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Grenville, Sydney. Thus I became a father to Roman Paul, a Tasmanian and Maria Sashunya, a Queenslander. My hobbies are swimming in the ocean and stamp and coin collection. My favorite food since living in Australia is seafood.
Over the last six months I have been enjoying my work as a family doctor in Redcliffe Peninsula, north of Brisbane."
Russian speaking readers know of Paul through his publications in the "Southern Cross" magazine, in a column which we, in good humor, headed "Children! Do not go walking in Australia", which is a paraphrase of a well known children"s rhyme by Corney Choukovski. We did that, because our writer had a very long article, stretching into ten issues, on various poisonous and dangerous creatures inhabiting the "green continent". He also offered advice on first aid treatment of victims who suffered from close encounters with the creatures.
However, our poor doctor must have felt really constrained within the frames of his scientific publications. He was yearning for a broad literary space, where the wind of changes was already blowing everywhere. Paul has been working in that direction for a long time now and has taken it quite seriously. His book on inter-relationship between a doctor and a patient in Australia, which will be published in English soon, will undoubtedly prove interesting to both Russian and English speaking readers. Here, we are presenting a fragment, which was prepared especially for this book. Our writer likes to have a joke and he can be a satirist, but not where the ethical side of medical practice is concerned. Here we meet a serious and pensive essayist, aiming to objectively evaluate a system in which he is far from being a novice. So, if there are any "people in white coats" among our readers, who are either in a successful practice or retired, or even those who took a deep breath of the wind of changes in the passages of the Australian Embassy, then we can be so bold as to declare that Paul Angel"s writing will keep you awake as any bestseller would. So be on your way!
What makes the book that you are holding in your hands so attractive? There are two writers who are both scientists, both migrants from the USSR, a non-existing country, both satirists who have two point of view regarding the surrounding world. What is this world? Is it a creation of the Creator or merely our perception of it, as stated by Bacon? In that case we present you with perception of the Australian world under signatures of Mikhail Sviridov and Paul Angel.
And I bid you farewell until better times.
Elena Volkova-Beggs Editor-in-Chief, "Southern Cross" magazine.
WIND OF CHANGES
FROM NOTES OF A SETTLER
If a King adopted you, your arrogance would
have known no bounds. Why then, you are not
proud, knowing that you are a son of God?
Epictetus, 100 AD, (Roman philosopher - slave)
Each one of us goes through a jigsaw puzzle piece of the large picture of the materialistic World and somebody knows why that particular piece was chosen. There is even no need to look from another World, as it is obvious, if you look back at the fascinating novel of life which surrounds you.
There are a number of interesting things before me, bequeathed to me from my grandmother - and what do they tell me? A big and heavy photo album bound in leather with gold corners and edges of thick pages, which you could not even call pages - they are just cut out for eternal keeping. The front cover bears traces of the family crest, which vividly stood out in silver long ago, but during the years of the October Revolution it was shamefully hidden or destroyed. There are photographs in the album, which were harmless to the socialist country, they are of my grandmother, her mother, uncle, aunt, her grandmother and so forth who belonged to the century before last - the nineteenth. The pages bear traces of extracted and replaced photographs. It is difficult to guess who these people are, without an explanation.
A few little silver vodka goblets with crowned monograms and .... a modest little vodka goblet which belonged to my grandmother"s father, marked with just tiny initials. A portrait, painted by the hand of an artist Vasiliev, who was totally unknown then and was in need of alcohol. A small picture in gold plated inner frame with a silver plate with words "Carl Scherres" on it, which used to be inside a large golden frame until my brothers and I ruined it by shooting at it from our slings because it was a remnant of the bourgeois past. There was my grandmother"s personal spoon with a half-worn crown coat of arms and initials. Everything else was destroyed and hidden in the fear to be locked away by the NKVD (Soviet Security Organs). And most important - my grandmother"s stories which were almost unbelievable, but impossible to destroy. It is apparent now that it is a tragic story of one of the ordinary families in a nation of the big world.
Having gathered everything together in a little pile, it is possible to imagine the following plot. Let"s say my great-great grandmother worked as a personal seamstress for an eminent German Baron. It was a custom, in those days and not only in those days, to keep beautiful Estonian girls in order to maintain a healthy clan for the purpose of a possibility that an heir might develop an illness through incest, which would not allow him to continue the noble stock. That is when a sudden emergence of a brother or a sister would be convenient. In reality, a healthy unofficial clan lived in parallel to the official, though sick clan. My great-great grandmother"s husband was a naval officer who, as it should be, scarcely came home, but the children were born and growing up. That is how Maria Reinfield, a favorite daughter of the Baron came to be. She received a lot of special attention and education and was sent to the Dutch Court to complete her education. Her beauty attracted a Dutch prince, but their relationship went so far that the prince lost his head and proposed. A bit early that was, you might say, as the Dutch crown did not have a problem with incest.
But the seed was sewn and it was imperative that a worthy husband be found for Maria immediately. Wilhelm Garrous, a jeweler working for Faberge in St.Petersburg, turned out to be the lucky groom. He was a good man. When he died, the city was already re-named Leningrad and there was a large procession of mourners following his coffin. Those who were not aware, thought that the funeral was for another red commissar. But he died while singing in Estonian choir. A beautiful end.
One way or the other, a daughter (my grandmother) was born. They named her Zelma Gertrude (a name for each daddy). She received double attention: taken to German kindergarten, then German school, was attended by a family doctor, had a French tutor, was invited to bicycle rides with the Royal family, a slight resemblance to the life of and the mystery surrounding, princess Anastasia. Then there were balls where officers were abundant and a job in a prestige establishment with extremely high remuneration. All of that promised a bright future. But .... the wild winds of changes shook the country and the revolution happened. Everything went topsy-turvy, though Zelma was not aware of that initially. She was just nineteen, her life circled around dancing, cadets, sailors and bullets whistling by overhead. That was an unusual combination as cadets supported white Russians and sailors were reds. One day there would be funerals bearing red flags, the next - flags of the white Russians.
The red patrol began poking about apartments looking for young girls in order to nationalize them. Then the starvation crept in gradually. An armored train, as if by chance, brought a commissar who secretly fled the home of a Russian Priest. He was not a bastard, but educated and what was most important he had bread, sugar and butter. What was there to do? The defender Czar was killed, contact with abroad was cut off, and there was no way out other than to get married. At least she would not be nationalized, he was an officer and a brother of one of Lenin"s co-fighters, so a good life was to be assured. But.... Alas! The party sent him to Pyatigorsk (town in the Caucasus mountains aria) for organizing training to be offered to the first officers of the red army. Hunger, the white bandits and simply bandits including the red ones interjected into her life and the life of her mother Maria. It was in those turbulent times that my mother was born. What happened next? The new Party incentive was to organize the first Aviation institute. The next to exterminate Lenin"s co-fighters as well as their kin. That is when all the family archives were lost and my grandfather died an "honorable death from a triple heart attack" in a Party hospital. They would have crushed the entire family, but the World War Two had begun.
My mother was thrown into evacuation along with the Bauman (Russian revolutionary) Institute (Technique-mathematics). Her brother was sent to the front after completing an Artillery College, and my Grandmother, Zinaida Vasilievna (changed from Zelma Willhelmovna to Russian sound) together with her mother Maria were evacuated along with the Artillery College. Maria, being a dependent, was allowed 50 grams of bread per day, which she would give away to the hungry children. Thus she managed to survive to the Victory Day, though she was not aware of it, and died on the 8 May 1945. She was delirious and on her deathbed she kept pleading: "give me some bread, some bread ...." That was the fate of a Dutch prince"s friend, who devoted all her life to her only daughter Zelma.
But what of the princess? She lived to see her grandchildren and used to astonish us with her stories while our mother, being a staunch communist, used to cut those conversations short, saying that they were all bourgeois fantasies. Whether they were fantasies or not, but there were photographs that surfaced from somewhere, and the family silver engraved with crowns and the coat of arms which my brother and I used. Sometimes we had unexpected visitors from Leningrad, who were grandmother"s friends, like echoes from the secret past. The last proof of the mystery, which is clearer now, was a letter from Canada from grandmother"s cousin. Although letters from abroad underwent thorough censorship by special services, still something managed to seep through from the mysterious past.
Years took their toll and the time came for my grandmother"s soul to depart from her cancer-ridden body. She suffered very much, could not move and moaned in delirium, but the inherited upbringing would not give her peace. She would awaken from her sufferings and say: "Who is moaning over there, I am sorry but I can"t come and help you as I can"t get up myself". There were her diaries left after she died, but my mother burnt them in the fear that they were too frank. She regretted that later, while she was here, in Australia, saying that we could have learnt histories of those extraordinary lives and passed them on to our children.
Thus peoples" fates fly through like sparks, and looking back we begin to realize and seek proof that we do not create our fates, but simply live through life, which was allotted to us. The realization does not come immediately, but it is a gradual process, which begins with self-satisfied confidence and an assumption that you are the absolute master, until a strike of fate, which bit by bit puts you in your place. It would not be long before our time will come to look back at what we had to go through. That realization of inevitability came to me through the process of learning the New World of Australia. That is why, the beginning of this writing is full of skeptical arrogance and gradually the saga rolls down to a boring description of events. In terms of reality, it goes from the proud feeling of managing your own fate to the realization of inevitability of events.
That was the birth of a two-part novel, the "Wind of Changes - from Notes of a Settler". The first part could be named "How a Magazine Gets Published", which reflects attitudes to Australia, to people of that land and the changes in my global understanding of the situation. But the second part! .... begins with a popular scientific article on modern attitudes towards the Universe and continues with simple stories on extraordinary events around me where truth seems improbable and lies seem to fit the situation perfectly. The second part is written in third person as the events have been gathered from stories of people around me, from personal experience and as a result of observations. Some real persons may be offended and people close to me could be unpleasantly surprised and concerned. That is why a third person emerges so as not to connect the tale with my persona. Same as the first part, which begins with attitudes to unfolding events, the second part, upon realization of a further step towards the truth, will reflect only the improbability of unfolding events that really happened.
So try to chew through the first part and then decide whether you want the second one!
Sarcastic definition a modern Russian person in Australia: " An individual from a large Soviet family, so called by the post Soviet republics, who can speak and sometimes even read and comprehend the Russian language".
There are numerous ways which carry pale fledglings and their battered old parents from their native nests with their seasonal smells. The stagnant smell of autumn, aromas of cooked food in winter, perfumes of spring flowers, smell of freshly cut grass and leaves in summer. The first surprising sensation in the new home country, Australia, is total absence of scent in the air. There is a strong desire to take a deep breath and inhale the air of a foreign heaven, an air of freedom - you breathe in and .... Yes - it"s just air! That"s the first loss - but maybe not? Initial losses could happen during the trip, while the airy ocean rages overboard the airplane. If it is a JAL flight, then most individuals from the Soviet country quickly unite in a "group of comrades" and partake in alcoholic consumption of "freebies", a taste of which has already become familiar, since the beginning of "perestroika" and is no longer a "wonder from the west" as portrayed on Soviet television. Almond-eyed girls, probably of Japanese extraction, dutifully attend to the various "groups of comrades" through the night, exchanging empty glasses and other containers for full bottles. They should provide a larger volume of bottles for the Moscow flights! The faraway friends are too slow in their business restructuring! Native Aeroflot, however looks after the health of their citizens, even when they leave the country and provides them with food rations, strictly according to their ticket price. Oh those bourgeois! - they really fill their stomachs, flying first class.
A friendly crowd of "groups of comrades" rolls out of the airplane in the hope of improving their health condition; their legs are weak and their throats are dry. As luck would have it, there are moving footpaths and a whole network of Japanese food outlets serving fresh beer. This is where initial events of "missing persons" begin to occur: groups of comrades begin to thin out, as the free drinks come to and end, and people start to look for the "hair of the dog" to suit their pockets. Some, whose pockets are empty, take individual tours around the stopover city. The stopover in Japan is quite lengthy and that causes some individuals to get over their health condition and begin a new stage of consumption. That is where the event of "missing persons" occurs and the entire airport knows about it through its loudspeaker facility. The filled airplane waits for a whole hour for the missing individuals. When "the missing person" finally wakes up on an airport bench, his eyes still red though already sensible, the "non-returnee" tries to find out how much it would cost him in "damages" for holding up the airplane for an hour - he is given a ticket for the next flight. So, what happened to the multi-million-dollar "damages" payments that the Soviet people were threatened with and which were so successfully implemented in the post Soviet capitalism. They probably don"t like our "non-returnees" and the "damages" are the "privilege" of the rich. That is not fair!
Latter part of the trip to Brisbane, "Paradise of Australia", is considerably uneventful. The previous day and night leave a mark of tiredness. Groups of comrades have considerably thinned out. Some got off in Japan, while others, as we already know, got left behind. Small groups of people, burping from foreign food, unshaved and pale, await inspection by the customs control officer who is activated, like a bull, at the sight of a glaring red "hammer and sickle" passport from the "broad trouser-legs" (a term used by Vladimir Mayakovski, a popular Soviet era poet, who frequently used surrealistic imagery). Then begins the custom"s hunt for foreign foods, especially sausage. Some individuals have to endure a body search to see whether they are carrying a sausage. Perhaps they really want to see that delight from overseas. Having passed through the section of customs tables, it is at last possible to step onto the land of the free and take a deep breath of freedom. But all you breathe in - is just air. This air is probably rich with "the wind of changes" and not with any scent.
In-Between-Chapters 1 and 2
That is how the first chapter of never-ending story appeared. It was written for a special and specifically intended for publication in the Russian ethnic magazine "Vedomosti" (Monthly News) in Australia. Of course, a lot of people could not even read it, others did not understand much of it. The Russian language changed considerably in the last 30 - 40 years, as has the way of life changed beyond recognition in the left behind Motherland. So what is the point of writing for those who cannot read? It"s just that the memories were fresh and there was an accumulation of grievances against the surrounding population, so there was a desire to spill it all out. Of course, there was no need to continue after the first attempt. However, the editor needed more material, so he issued a double request: continuation as well as response. Having gathered verbal responses (it was virtually impossible to obtain any in writing, i.e. even if someone can read, then writing for them is a real "hard labor" and leaning on tradition of the Russian ethnic groups in Australia, to always collect money, I received a bad mixture of truth and parody on newspaper clippings from stagnant era, which would, as a rule, begin with a heading:
RESPONSE TO THE LETTERS OF THE WORKERS
Editorial staff received over one thousand letters posing various questions and congratulations on the publication of "Wind of Changes". We received letters enclosing financial support for our newspaper and for the writer. All the letters containing donations were left at the newspaper office, but those with questions and congratulations were directed to the writer and he kindly agreed to reply to them:
Thank you for your letters. It is a great pity that I did not receive them all, but only those which had no financial aid in them. Letters could be divided into a few groups. Some mail came from people living in Russia - they all had similar questions. For example, Ivan Ivanovich from Nizhnij Tagil (fictions person from small country town) wanted to know: "Is it really true, that it is so good to fly JAL and that you can drink as much as you want. How could one get on to such a flight?" I replied: "It is very simple - all you have to do is buy a ticket and get a visa to come to Australia. However, if you wish to achieve that without having an Australian visa, then you could go through the international customs using a ticket to Turkey and then fly to Tokyo and back. That is also a good trip."
There were letters that dealt with my grammatical errors, but I think, those are matters for the editor. It is worth noting one very interesting letter from Australia. The writer of that letter was quite indignant at my article, he felt that it was too generalized. He, himself flew JAL but did not drink any alcohol. But how could I reply to that: if there was one tee-totaller and that is his right which he should be proud of and that he should not generalize either or upset a Russian who likes his drink and his food. In any case, whenever there is an announcement of a gathering at the Russian club - it always includes a sumptuous meal and a bar serving alcoholic beverages. A report on such a gathering would state that .... "Many stayed till dawn". That does not seem to cause anyone to be upset or write any letters. So, please do write to me - the more you write to me the more I can reply to you. Thank you.
.... And so, I came out full of expectations. But I did not see anything new. The same old sun was shining through the glass walls, same old suntanned bodies of people dressed in shorts waiting, pushed up against the arrivals in a densely formed semi-circle. There were some couples who stood out amongst the crowd, they were probably fiancés holding flowers, of course and their mothers with particular tenderness. But why fiancés? Because later on, they were hugging young women, who spoke only Russian on the airplane, while their mothers showed particular interest. Two Russian brides on one flight! That is a fair addition to the family of multicultural Australians. So, there were no surprises on the other side of the globe, except that we will have to walk "upside down" from now on.
No, upon looking more closely - most people were of surprising dimensions. They say that the "disease" came from the US and its name is "Macdonald"s". Now I could understand why, in Moscow in the restaurant of the same name, the doors were so wide. Up until then, I thought that, naïve as I was, such wide doors were needed to avoid being squashed by the queue of people wishing to visit this exotic delight. That is exactly how it used to be. In order to get through the doors, it was necessary to queue up for at least two hours. And, as I now understand, creators of that attraction must be anticipating the spread of a similar "Macdonald"s Obesity" disease in Moscow, as well. The carrier of that "disease", I must say: " A hamburger is tastier in Moscow than it is in Australia!" The reason being, I think, that here they use cleaned and frozen ingredients, while in Moscow, there is no time to grow, clean or freeze - everything is eaten straight from its roots. That is why "raw "N" fresh" produces better effect. Though, that could be an extension of the subject of "smell". Even the taste of food in Australia seems plain to a newcomer. Salads taste like scented mayonnaise; meat - like BBQ sauce; butter - like salted margarine; gherkins - like vinegar, and so on. However, experienced settlers know that it is better to use American mayonnaise and eat Israelis gherkins and to improve plain food with Hungarian spices. Though people should not argue about tastes - but merely discuss them.
Thus I came out and scanned over the faces of the awaiting crowd forming the semi-circle. It is quite difficult to look in the eye of Australians because they, as though on command, start to smile. Sometimes their smiles appear silly and guilty, sometimes with pity or even aggressive. That is why, having been used to cloudy or passing glances of the faraway Motherland, one becomes confused and is lost for response. I must say, the spontaneous "habit to smile", Australians lose very quickly when in Moscow. I did not see staff at the Australian Embassy exercise that habit, even though I tried to, devotedly and well-meaningly, look them in the eye - there were no smiles in response. A long time ago, about 15 years back, when I had my "comsomol" (communist youth league) hair style, a well wishing leader would to say to me: "What are you grinning at? Take my advice and look more serious, don"t you know who you are dealing with?" Similar advice would be issued from leaders of a different world, though using a different vocabulary, familiar to the criminal jargon. There is, in essence, not much difference between a criminal who abides by his own laws and those who enforce the written laws. For those who are searching for true freedom, both of the above represent "chains". So, they got us out of the "smiling habit". Now I began to understand them. If I do not feel any pleasant emotions towards a person, then, of course his smiling face irritates me. Lessons of the Motherland are unforgettable. I can imagine how I used to irritate the Party functionaries with my well wishing smile.
I had time to notice, however that smiling faces have a bad tendency to form wrinkles and as a result, Australians look much older than the fresh-looking newcomers of similar age. So if you want to be young, then do not part with the "comsomol" and stay where you are - then the frosty wind of carbon monoxide will preserve your youth forever.
Of course I came out, but you have probably already gathered that I felt some reservation. My unshaved face was coarse against the mass of smooth and smiling faces and it was difficult to find people who were meeting. In addition, one of the people responsible for my arrival, grew a beard and tried to pretend that he was Russian. I could explain my unshaved state by not anticipating the power points in Russia, Japan and Australia, but he never explained why he was unshaved, neither at the moment of meeting nor later on. Maybe this publication would inspire him to tell his secret. At last I caught a glimpse of the "important" people who were meeting me. Why important, you might ask? I think that all those who were expecting my arrival here must love me, but these people who organized my transport and accommodation loved me even more. Thus the friendly crowd of Australian and Russian speakers grabbed their long awaited friends, especially that the awaited friends were a couple of hours late because of the flight delay, and quickly wheeled their luggage towards transport. Of course, everybody"s joy was slightly tarnished by the, lost in Japanese jungle, "non-returnees" . It is understandable, however that those who were "gone with the wind" should not necessarily come down at the same time or the same place. Especially that that wind was the "wind of changes".
Thus, after the second publication, readers began to show greater interest. A chord was struck in readers" hearts. There were hurt feelings and that prompted readers to write their opinion. So, now for the first time, I received written criticism and I quote hereunder:
COMMENTS BY ONE OF THE READERS
Indeed .... talented people are not extinct out in Russia .... and in Australia too. In the same mould as Radischev, Dostoyevski and others who wrote their diaries, there is now a new name of a previously unknown author of "Diary of a Settler".
I read them and did not know whether to laugh or to cry? It had brought on a warm feeling of home, of the Soviet era. I understand that the author had a deprived childhood, gloomy teenagehood, tough "comsomol" youth and a hard adult life .... One could do no other but to feel sorry for him.
Let"s offer him our compassion ....
A grateful reader
Please how much grief and longing for the lost Soviet era was in that response. One could sense the tears choking her throat. She probably felt really sorry for me. But, more likely, for herself. I could only suggest that, hard times in the Soviet Union created a myth of blossoming capitalism. In addition to blossoming capitalism in Australia, was also a myth that in that corner of the world there was shortage of women. That myth grew from an historical fact that the first large descent on the Australian coast comprised undesirable English aristocrats and criminals, whose destiny carried them to the end of the world. Thus there were only about 200 women to a thousand of new settlers. And although, at the Australian Embassy in Moscow there is a notice on the wall saying that there is no demand for women in Australia. Blinded by the desire to leave the country of future communism and not paying attention to anything else, they purposefully strive to leave the country on family grounds.
Even though it is not too difficult to assume that if a man invites a completely unknown to him woman from a wild country, then there must be something wrong with him. He is either psychologically unbalanced, or he has some particular purpose in mind. If a man is middle aged and is not married - that in itself arouses suspicion. However a typical Soviet woman is quite self confident, and that used to be portrayed by the fact that, she must get married before 23 years old, no matter what; even if its a drunkard (I"ll reform him! And that usually failed). That would push them to embark on a long voyage. On arrival, a bride would encounter surprises. These come in variety of forms, but we could single out some that are quite typical. For example, it could happen that the house on a photograph sent to Russia is not owned but rented and the lease had expired, so it is necessary to move to totally different conditions. Or, the house is owned, but a "real dump" which is covered up by a beautiful array of plants at the front. Better still, the house is mortgaged and the bank is forcing its sale.
Another surprise brings on an instant headache. Being used to be in charge of the household and the finances in the Soviet family and fully expropriating her husband"s pay, the newly baked Australian wife stretches out her hand and .... receives a bewildered Australian smile in response. It seems that it is the person who earns money in the family - is in charge of the money. And you, my dear, must look for a job in order to have money. And so begins a partisan fight for survival through setting aside some of the money from the grocery shopping for a rainy day. There are other problems as well. These women often have children, and it seems that, they must provide for the children and should earn money for that.
While we are on the topic of children.... Sometime later it surfaces that the innocent fiancé had three wives and lots of children, for whom he must provide and all his earnings go on the side. This is not the worst version yet, as he could provide for somebody at least. What if a husband is an eternal student? Then the dream of the ex-Soviet woman comes true - she is totally in charge, she rents a flat, works, and buys groceries. Still, it"s better than a drunkard.
Women who managed to pick up a businessman are luckiest of all. There is a house, a car, a shop, an office and a lot of something mysterious but respectful. It is so tempting an offer to own everything together. There are solicitors, joint ownership of businesses, cars, houses and equipment. Meetings, restaurants, holidays, bills, letters, courts and .... The businessman turns out to be a sham - he exhausts his credit and the wife remains a mortgagee of all the obligations. He is bankrupt - that"s it!
That is how an optimistic arrival in capitalistic Eden could end. If a woman can endure all that for two years, she becomes a permanent resident of Australia and then becomes her own boss. Sometimes the Soviet self-confidence extends that period. Other times pride allows a cut-off from the start. That is where bitterness and disappointment set in. Best treatment is to make a short visit to the Motherland!
That is not a general tendency, of course. There are exceptions. First such exception is where a woman exercises patience and accepts the world for what it is. Eventually they learn to live with each other and an international family is created. Another exception is, though quite a rarity, he is indeed rich and she, regardless of all his faults, patiently accepts everything that he does. Sometimes he does a lot. In any case, people are envious.
That is why I have included a harmless comment from that type of reader:
I read the previous publications with excited eagerness and thought to myself: "Is it really that same writer who was deservedly placed in line with Radischev and Dostoyevski?" If that is so, then I recall his earlier poems, a collection of which I still have stored as the best memories of my youth. I am also acquainted with famous scientists who have his scientific publications and books with his personalized autographs. I consider it a great fortune that his pen has touched the pages of our famous magazine.
I totally identify with comments made by the "grateful reader" - the writer"s lines have the power to make the reader laugh or cry. That is how talent is recognized. Often there are times when I feel sad, then I read my favorite lines and cry, but when I am happy - I read the same lines and I laugh. Isn"t it indeed an incredible quality of those lines?
I am awaiting publication of the next issue with great anticipation and sincerely request the editors to send me an autographed copy
Just as grateful a reader
After the first two issues, the president of a Russian Club, who also happens to be the first editor of "Vedomosti" (Russian News) took advantage of a wonderful opportunity offered by the Australian Government. In accordance with the Government Program of Reduction of Staff in Public Service, he left AUSTRADE, which had been a second home to him for many years, taking a nice sum in redundancy pay. However that put a stop to his previous opportunities of using photocopying and other office requisites. In addition the Russian club, as usually, was forever suffering from lack of resources for printing needs. That is understandable. There are a lot of people who consider themselves Russian, but can neither read nor write in their native language. Thus there was a lengthy interval in the field of printing. The President, having lost his opportunity to walk around the City centre during his lunchtime (or at other times as well), had increased substantially in weight and in size due to home cooking, which he prepared and consumed himself and treated his friends to.
Everyone waited for another Ivan Feodorov (there is a monument to him in Moscow for starting of the first printing business in old Russia). And .... he appeared in the persons of post Soviet individuals. A large group of professional journalists gathered together, namely thirteen women and one restless organizer, who continued to be the President of a Russian club. Maybe it was because of the ominous number of women, or maybe because of there being only one man for all to share, they could not give birth to a new magazine. Meetings followed by other meetings, but there was no sight of a magazine. That is when, a treacherous thought was born in the great President"s head to use me in the role of a technical editor. Having been disappointed by situations surrounding me at the time, I gobbled up that hook, though with suspicion.
Having had experience, in the Soviet system, of managing staff of various numbers (from three to one-and-a-half thousand), through determination and exactness, I frightened off most of the recruits. Being left with only five volunteers, I took it in my hands and produced a first Russian language magazine with a colored front cover. Everyone was overwhelmed with pride and joy. But they demanded that I should resurrect the continuation of my saga:
From the Author
I really did not want to continue my notes on my first impression of Australia, because, by that time, my impressions had changed radically and a lot happened since then. However, the Editorial panel put me under a lot of pressure - the Editor-in-Chief was particularly successful in that, because he had put on even more weight. That is why every line is enshrined with a sense of pressure. So, whatever I could squeeze out - I squeezed out. Thanks for continuing support.
.... looking through the window of a car, driving away from the airport, I could see vast spaces of uncertainty. However, that uncertainty was not at all frightening. After the unforeseeable stupidity of the Russian anarchy and cold horror of inevitability, that uncertainty felt like a blow of fresh wind - a "wind of changes".
Meanwhile, all that was left behind was "the great Russian language", a language which is totally unnecessary in the Russia of late, because the great Russian leaders only use three or four words to express their thoughts. It is sometimes difficult to comprehend - whether it is because their thoughts can only produce three words, or because "silence is golden." What comes to mind here, is Ella-the-Cannibal (a protagonist from a famous novel by Ilf & Petrov who used thirty words when communicating), or Comrade Gromyko (ex-USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Brezhnev era). He was a great man who could talk for hours and say nothing. Or take Mr. Zhirinovski - he can talk about anything and in any way. There is only one question "Does any-one want that"? It is a pity that we haven"t heard much about him lately. It may be that he, who wants that, is suffering from a little poor health.
The thing that used to be helpful was: if you knew your Russian - you were able to separate a bright person from the stupid. However lately, it is difficult to detect an undecent person if he speaks good Russian. It is only time that puts everyone in his place - fools remain fools (I mean me), and clever jokers continue to trick others. That proves once again that knowledge of a language is not of particularly necessity and, sometimes, can be a disadvantage. So, in that context, if the Russian language is no longer necessary for communication in Russia, then lack of English did not frighten me at all. All the more that acquisition of the latter was carried out at Bond University where most persons were Japanese.
It is surprising that, in Australia, the most important thing is to have money. If there is no money, there must be a good grasp of the English, or at least Australian language. But having no language at all, and having money becomes an unsolvable problem - whether to spend it learning the language, or starting a new life. Solomon"s decision is the best solution, i.e. start a new life and start learning the language. I stress "start", here, because there is neither the money nor the energy for attacking it on a grand scale.
That is where "unity and struggle with extremes" sets in. On the one hand the desire to actively study the language crushes against laziness of Asian students at Institutes of the English Language (Pauline Hanson probably learnt her English in similar classes). On the other hand the teachers are quiet satisfied with that. It was quite an effort to amend the course and its teaching method, especially having acquired skills over the past ten years, when teaching at the "USSR Institute of Upgrading Qualifications for Management and Engineering Staff in Radio Technology". Sounds impressive!!! Having that experience, it was easy to put together a program on teaching the English language, not knowing the language at all. It is a well-known fact that one individual from the USSR is simply a genius, but put them all together and it"s a madhouse. So, they accepted my offered program, but they probably disliked me, because they sent me to study in a special group consisting of especially "gifted" students. Fortunately, teaching staff mainly consists of non-Australians, so they could honestly say "yes" or "no", if put under pressure. That helped to resolve all education matters quickly, fees for which had already been paid anyway.
It can be difficult to get a definite response from Australians, they try to totally ignore you or change the subject. It often happens because of narrow specialization and rigid authoritarian responsibility. Naturally that can irritate greatly at first, after being in association with some individual geniuses of the large Soviet country, where everyone was ready to offer, absolutely free of charge, advice on any matter. Then, you begin to understand that, in Australia, everybody requires a job and the overall sum of narrow specialists blends in well into this system. There is no room for super clever people here. And, if something is not quite right, then it is possible to receive legal advice from a solicitor or an accountant, but that would cost. That does not mean that they are very clever, but they have a license and insurance which would always cover them for their stupidity. Thus, in order to become a solicitor, one needs a little money for study and insurance and does not necessarily need any additional capability. If you turn for advice to some such consultants, sometimes they would turn your simple situation into such a complicated one, that you could not possibly wriggle out of it without their advice. That makes you think - who is the fool here? You or the solicitor; or maybe you struck another super-clever one .... and the money keeps evaporating.
So, let"s go back to "unity and struggle of extremes" (please do not think that that is a Marxist-Leninist philosophical propaganda - that term was adopted a long time before the communism). The desire to start some kind of business is immediately met with a great number of local business gurus. As if by magic, spring up operators of a new profitable business. Colorful pictures of business plans are overwhelming and the projected figures drive one mad. One could become a millionaire within a year. Your partners-jokers forget that they are your partners and all the previous discussions were merely jokes. These jokers" eyes acquire a feverish glow, their hands shake, their breathing hastens and the pitch of their voices becomes higher. You become secretly suspicious - what if you steal such profitable business and use it to your own advantage. Then, people shouldn"t judge others by themselves.
The figures enchant, of course and additional questions are met with instant and well-formulated responses. That is where initial suspicions creep in. It seems as though answers to my questions had been prepared throughout the night, having all possible communication and information resources including the whole printing service at their fingertips. The new numbers spring up much too quickly, however without any basis or explanation given - but what a presentation! It becomes more and more interesting. All discussions culminate in something like that: give us your money, and clever as we are, we would make you a millionaire - you just stay home and learn English.
I am dumb - and nothing can be done about that, I want a detailed contract which suggests equal input of work as well as money. After lengthy and stern discussions, a contract is created. It seems that those "clever" Australians are tired, their eyes, anticipating input of money, lost their sparkle, their tongues became tired of repeating again and again that, "in Australia they do not draw-up contracts in these situations", we fail to understand them, "everything is built on verbal agreements". That"s it! The contract is ready - it is now time to work and make millions. Strange as it is, but the "clever Australians" seem to disappear somewhere. The joker-partners look at you as though, through your behavior, you rejected such profitable business.
A question arises: "Is that treatment applied to all the Soviet people, or is it only me that they take for a fool?" Alas no! I remember meeting similar "millionaires" when I had an Australian partner, as well. The result is similar: "Guys, you give us a million now, maybe even five thousand, and tomorrow you will have billions". After the contract was finalized, the "clever devils" seem to disappear somewhere. There is only one question those "clever devils" cannot answer: "If you can make millions out of nothing, then why do you need partners who have so little money?"
Unfortunately, the Australian "clever devils" are not aware that Russians are very capable mathematicians, because they had to add and multiply the socialistic wealth for many years. Australian business plans are simply wonderful. However the final result is based on assumptions that, e.g. each person on earth consumes ten litters of aromatic oil per annum, or that every Brisbanite has three houses and wants to build 6 more, next year. Sometimes, by chance you run into a partner of an unconcluded agreement and enquire about your mutual business. The response is approximately similar, i.e. that business was not very viable, now he is involved in something more profitable. But then, you look and see that he is driving off in an old bomb instead of a new limousine. If you take a closer look, you will see a lot of Australian "millionaires" driving such cars. Maybe it is typical of this type of millionaire in Australia, but from the stories of my friends, who managed to resettle in other capitalist countries, it is the same story all over the world. Therefore, Australia is a country of wealth and flourishing. Hooray!!!
Thus, extensive experience of dealing with such type of millionaires, evokes memories of an old favorite slogan put out by comrade Brezhnev (the longest serving USSR leader who, towards the end of his post could not speak very well but was good at kissing his "party-brothers"): "You must work harder, comrades!" So, we start working hard, as hard as acquisition of a language would allow. It is important to note, that that slogan was justified. Later on, when I managed to communicate in English, I was lucky enough to meet a real business millionaire in Australia. They lead relatively modest lives and are quite critical of people who want to start their business in Australia without a good command of the English language.
That is why, as your English gets better, you start being approached by a different type of millionaire, who tries to rope you in to selling all types of goods for them, e.g. gold coins, washing powder, goods from catalogues, etc. These "millionaires" try to enter your house any way that they can - via telephone, chimney or window so that they could sit down and have a heart-to-heart family discussion (presence of partners is absolutely necessary). They tell you that it is not what goods you sell that is the most important issue, it is the points that you receive. These points add up, as in nuclear explosion according to the law of chain reaction. If you insist that you want to see the catalogue or the goods, and want to know in what way that merchandise is better than any other, they respond by showing you a book full of photographs of leaders in that business. Those leaders no longer work, they just convert their points to dollars. If that does not convince you, then you are invited to a seminar, where they explain to you, in little squares, the theory of progression and chain reaction. Usually, they let you off after a simple naïve question: "Why do you drive such a dilapidated car that is not in accord with such a flourishing business?" I already know, that "millionaires" drive cars like that, but they still don"t know that, and reply that they have a very good house instead. But then, after another very easy or unimposing question of: "Why then do you come to my house instead of inviting me to yours?" that type of a "millionaire" leaves you alone. I must admit, I did meet some successful people in that business, except their success came through ten years of very hard work and now they spend at least 50% of their time in order to maintain their operational success. Association with such people taught me that the polite question of: "How are you?" does not mean that they want you to tell them your problems and joys, but is simply a form of Australian "Hello". Here"s a question with a purpose: "What sort of business are you in"? There"s nothing you can do about it - this is capitalism.
Australia is famous for things other than millionaires. There are still people, with whom you can, in real soviet-style, sit at the kitchen table with a plate of pelmeni (Russian meat dumplings) and a glass, which is filled with various beverages over a period of time. This is where you could talk business, in all seriousness of inherent humor. Here, you could also build castles in the air and immediately destroy them without any regrets. Say a few jokes about Australian "millionaires" who filled the entire world with aromatic oils and built-up half of Brisbane and in addition six built houses for each individual Australian.
But then who knows, maybe I am wrong? I, personally have a beautifully presented business plan on how to fill Australia with ostriches and their eggs. As you know from television, someone in Russia got caught with that and is "hugely" successful in cultivating baby ostriches on a farm. Maybe you would like some ostrich eggs? Feel free to contact me, I can help you with an introduction absolutely free, i.e. without charge.
And so, you run around searching for a business, but all you get is whistling wind. May that is the "wind of changes"?
In-Between-Chapters 3 - 4
Maybe I was unreasonable in accusing Australian fiancés of being somewhat sort of inadequate. They are driven by sexual impulse. Some of my acquaintances-fiances complained about Australian women, saying that they just lie there like a piece of log. But the Russian girls are hot, tender and unpredictable. What concerns unpredictability, I think, they found that out immediately. But as regards the heat, maybe that is their fault as well. I don"t really want to talk about Australian men, I"ll leave that to the women. Being married and talking about sexual differences of various nations of the world would be indecent of me. But turning to stories of eyewitnesses, it is possible to note some traits of hidden life, of which very little is said, but is always thought about.
One post Soviet individual, having come to Australia on a 12 month business visa, and being good looking from the point of view of nightclub women, never missed an opportunity to conduct regular investigations in the field of bedroom relationships. What was surprising is that the information conveyed by him also stated that, girls who were very agile, attention seekers, ready to carry on and do just about anything in public, were full of surprises in later development. Drinking beer and other drinks together, dancing on tables, stripping off pantyhose in front of celebrating crowds and almost raping the driver on the way to, the seemingly long awaited bed, aroused indescribable fantasies of the forthcoming night. And what..? As soon as that fountain of passion reached the bed, then something incomprehensible was happening. There, that subject would fall on the bed and freeze, either in expectation or simply from exhaustion.... Then the poor investigator of the secrets of Australian women was faced with a difficult problem. Firstly, he needed to understand what was expected of him, secondly, he did not want the dignity of a Russian man to fall, but in a situation such as that, that is precisely what falls first. You could imagine visually, what moral and physical effort is required in order to get it up again. But having gotten it up, it is not easy to decide how to use it best. Having performed his obligations, with difficulty, our Don Juan remained perplexed - what was that all for? However, having conducted more in-depth and prolonged investigations, he came to the conclusion that obvious mixtures of Australians with Spanish, French, German, Chinese etc. fully corresponded with his ideas on sexuality of women of a different country. Maybe the Anglo-Saxon branch was at fault here? Australian women! Please do not be upset with me. Firstly it was the opinion of Australian men"s failures, secondly the opinion of a Soviet merry-maker and thirdly their opinion only based on some individual contacts.
After reading above one Australian woman gave me followed notes:
I hope your friend is now mature enough to realize true passion comes with true feelings - I could explain to him if he is still so sadly let down by Australian Women!! Perhaps it is only Australian women who will pretend to ensure they have a companion. Many women cannot be on their own - they seem to need to have a man around to lean on - why I personally cannot figure out.
Again this confirms that men-women"s relationship is not too easier in Australia.
It is interesting that I heard similar comments from other, less active investigators, but fairly trustworthy men, of Soviet as well as local descent. Oh one occasion recently. I was driving home late one night, around midnight. About two hundred meters from home, three tipsy ladies stood in my way and started peering through the window at me. Then they knocked, asking me to lower my window. One of them started to ask me about my sexual and marital status. My efforts to explain that I live near here and am on my way home were totally ignored. There was no need to guess what she wanted. After a brief discussion she managed to comprehend that I had no time for her, and she started offering me her telephone number and asking me to give her mine. In order to end this pleasant encounter two steps away from home, we exchanged telephone numbers and I decided to set off. But, to no avail! What about a chat?! Same questions started again, but by now her sexual desire had considerably subsided, so my responses began to make sense. So, it turned out that I was a neighbor, and married at that and I have two children! That aroused some indignation! And what on earth would I need your telephone number for; why did I waste my time on you and you are a pervert - going around here, picking up innocent girls! So, I made a friendly gesture and invited her to visit us. That must have been over the top for her and she yelled out in agitation: "Do you want me to fuck your wife?!" I am going to call the police right now! An Australian driver would have probably hidden his tail between his legs and carried out all the demands made by the conflicting side. But they did not know that I was a Soviet person, after all! Having realized that there was no point for any further discussion, I started to move slowly away from the agitated persons. I finally managed to break away from them and get home. However, such rudeness on my part would not allow them to settle down, and they came over to my house, stood on my property and started calling me. My wife and I had to come out onto a balcony and wave to them, so as not to disturb the neighbors. They could not speak from amazement. How"s that, they wanted to "get back at" me so much - by Australian standards my wife should have been throwing crockery at me by this time - and all we did was wave to them peacefully. Their "comjob" did not eventuate and they toddled off home, disappointed. So there"s your "Australian women"!
In the meantime, while somebody was studying women inside out, the working editorial panel gave birth (before the nine months were up) to a second issue of our professional magazine. Response to the first issue inspired us to continue that hopeless activity. And the wind of changes continued to blow through the thinning hair.
FROM THE EDITOR
Popularity of the publication "Wind of Changes" turned out to be surprisingly unruffled. We continue receiving comments, both positive and negative. Positive comments culminate in interjections, implying to continue the publication and the negative ones come from highly educated readers, particularly those with philological education strongly recommend that the writer should make his sentences shorter, otherwise their meaning may not reach ordinary people. Nevertheless, we are glad to offer you the continuation and hope that it would not be the last.
FROM THE AUTHOR
I am writing these lines from the shore of the Pacific ocean, on an island .... - no, don"t think that it is called "Bouyan", I am not implying any type of comparison and am not pretending to be 200 (it was a time of celebrating 200th anniversary of A.S.Pushkin - a great and much loved poet and writer who wrote a poem about an island called "Bouyan"). I am on the main island of Fiji. Can you see what a long and unstructured phrase I managed to concoct. And in my view there is nothing appalling even for the very educated or normal readers. Besides, my computer rarely "spits a dummy" at long phrases, when it checks my text. Computer indicators on ease of reading for publication allow me to come to the conclusion that the text is within the sufficient levels of comprehension. Thank you for keeping me from being bored and for making me conduct scientific research on my own compositions. That is what inspires me to carry on.
.... thus I discarded all my illusions on limitless possibilities for a person in a civilized capitalist world. What is the outcome? I have been stripped, my English is bad and my comprehension of the Australian language is even worse. What positive aspects are there left? Faith in my waning ability to assess the situation (here I stress that it is only faith and not self-confidence) and uncertainty of tomorrow (just how it is supposed to be in the imperialistic world). Why do I think that lack of confidence is a positive factor? Because it gives rise to aspirations to do something yourself and not to count on others.
Having filled my eyes with dusty routine, the "wind of changes" had slowed down. It was now difficult to find humor in the absurdities of this world. Strange bodies of bare-footed people no longer appeared surprising. Listening to other people"s conversations (even though it is rude) proved that the highest value here is money. Conversations here are mainly about how to get a discount or better rates of purchase. The sums in question are mainly just $10. I think that it is much more interesting to talk about millions, even they are exaggerated. In that case at least the imagination works well.
That eavesdropping made me think that the rate of local spirituality is no more than $10. Where are those discussions which must be inherent in the free world, i.e. about God, Universe, good and evil, art, music, etc. Unfortunately, I never caught any of that. Maybe I did not listen in the right places, or used the wrong ear. In any case, discussions on eternity could be heard in any dingy little bar in Moscow.
However one could understand the Australians, if all you get in your mail is bills or advertisements on sales. I have been making observations, over the past four years, how a carpet company is closing down and selling off its carpets at liquidation prices with - only one week left. It seems that weeks in Australia are quite long. Though when they send you a bill here - it is payable within 7 days. That is so as you do not get the "seven day week" and the "annual week" mixed up. Even the Australian language is becoming easier to understand, for some reason, when they try to explain to you how much you have to pay. They are even beginning to understand better what I am trying to say in that case. But in a case where you want to get your money back for some goods or inadequate service, then you have an exceptional opportunity to explain the situation many times, starting with a salesperson and up to a Manager of the sixth level. I was very pleased to exercise such an opportunity in order to improve my English. And I always knew what to say if I did not achieve financial success. I also noticed that it is better to achieve an outcome if your opponent speaks with an accent. Australians are very sure that they are right. Lengthy discussions can cause them to show a note of supremacy in their behavior.
Still, on the other hand - is the wind of changes still blowing? Yes. And it even blew a bit more weight into our bodies. That is easy to understand, when food in Russia had less calories than in Australia and the same volume of food caused effect of heaviness and obesity. I understand now why advertisements on various sports equipment and slimming programs are so popular. One thing is not clear, why do well-built sportsmen advertise them and not those lucky people who already lost weight. That immediately brings to mind those aerobic programs on Soviet television, when those who wanted to slim would grab some food, sit in front of the box and chew in rhythm with the music. I think that it has the same effect here.
Speaking of television, here are a few words on Russian television in Australia. Daily Russian news kept us informed that there is still a country which blew us into Australia. Judging by the program, winds in Russia were stronger by the day and they eventually loosened the satellite and its antenna so much, that there was no transmission for a long time. It seemed then that the weather was still.
As is well-known that still weather relaxes, but the situation pushes into doing something. I fully understand Chernishevski (Russian philosopher of socialism) and Lenin, of course, who gave firm recommendations in response to the question "What"s to be Done". After those recommendations the country spent a long time going nowhere. (Both Lenin & Chernishevski wrote separate books with that title). Unfortunately, having started to do something, I forgot about the classical works of Marxism-Leninism, so my road to nowhere was been pre-determined. But that"s another story and requires a different approach. The still weather pushed me towards various experiments. Russian speaking people surrounding me, in particular, became subjects of my experiment. Being unable to express myself in English, I began trying to say the whole truth in the Russian language and wrap it up in an impossible word wrapper, as they sometimes used to call "verbal diarrhea" back home.
The reaction was interesting - some people just did not understand, others were indignant but there were not many who played along. That is probably why I accepted the offer to write these notes for the purpose of continuing the experiment in writing.
I want to point out some positive peculiarities of the local life, which I did not appreciate at first. One interesting custom that I liked immediately is to celebrate children"s birthdays in places like Macdonald"s. It is good for the parents and the kids love it. There is an interesting way of treating children here. In Russia, they always tried to make unnatural selection of prospective students. The selection was made according to intellectual capabilities, or parents" vocation (construction professions were preferred) and more recently according to the parents" pockets. Although, the standard of education was often better in public schools than in private. Here, private schools accept students according to their religious denomination otherwise students can go to an international school. Similarly, there is no restriction at public schools. Gifted children as well as those who are not entirely healthy are in the same class, where the latter receive special attention and additional tuition. Australian education standards seem to be quite low, compared with Russia where there was pressure on children"s psyche. But as you study the educational program, you come to realize that children are being prepared for grasping educational material in higher grades and tertiary institutions. In other words, they are no longer children when they complete secondary school and facing independence of tertiary study is not a shock for them. That shock broke many a student"s neck and drove them away from tertiary institution. For example, we had a class of 40 at the start of the Electronic Machinery Moscow Institute and only 16 graduated. Here, as a rule, the dropout rate is a lot lower. I had an opportunity to observe how students from the ex-USSR, having come to Australia to study at the expense of their rich parents, adapt. Of course they experience shock and are perplexed that they have to work on their own, without any pressure or guidance, while there is so much temptation all around. And in addition, they (their fathers) pay for their tuition, as the Australians study at the government"s expense. They receive subsidies and do not pay for tuition until they graduate and find employment, then the government would start deducting money for their study. So they are not under any stress.
Thus, I got used to the food, clean streets did not seem that clean any more, only partial comprehension of the Australian language was no longer a threat and children"s education did not seem so shocking. The question "What"s to be Done" became more acute. Partial resolution of that question was getting acquainted with a Barter card system, which permits use of exchange of services rather than real money. That system is a good idea, the only bad thing about it is that the profits go to the system"s organizers and not to its users. The system was useful in that the organizers held bartering gatherings, where I had a good look at some woeful businessmen and considerably improved my Australian language. That system unites unfortunate people, crooks, novices in business and simply good folk of whom there are not many. I don"t know whether that system is still flourishing, but I manage very well without it.
Another part of reviewing the posed question, was to submerge into the raging rose of winds of Russia. That is why a decision to visit Moscow, after a two year interval promised to liven up the winds. But the trip was delayed for a week due to my late arrival at the Brisbane airport. Thus my visit was cut short by a week, maybe so that I would run around madly and create the "wind of changes".
In-Between-Chapters 4 and 5
The newly arrived, so-called "new Russians" are very surprised to find that they spend a lot of money on champagne and on presentation, but the clients do not come to buy the goods. Why doesn"t the principle of "I entertained you, so come and buy from me" work here? However they fail to notice that they are also invited to various presentations and they do not buy anything either. The principle of such gatherings is simple: "You respect me, I respect you - we are both respectable people". That was the basis of the bartering system. Disrespectful people became respectful.
I also wanted to include my observations of the night life in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast gathered during attendance at the bartering gatherings. After 7.00 p.m., (especially Fridays and Saturdays) people, clad in evening dresses of various standard, trickle towards nightclubs. Night lights and the air of anticipation, like at high school formals, make all representatives of the beautiful sex, even more beautiful. Unfortunately that perception disappears with the sunrise, and those beautiful princesses turn into tipsy and tired-looking Cinderellas, frogs and Ausse girls. For the real princesses disappear from the nightclubs before midnight, as a rule. Some arrive with friends, others with a complaint of a healthy human body - desire! The matter of "desire" in Australia is a complex one. A man in a nightclub cannot, in any way, approach an object of his desire. That could be interpreted as breaking the law and as would suffer the consequences. Thus, if a girl wants to show that she is free she would need to be an extravert and make a double effort, if she wants to show that to a chosen "victim". If the subject is not dumb, he begins to make tracks, gradually and moving to the music, waving about a bottle of beer. After the customary exchanges of "How are you going", they try to determine find the scale of a possible future relationship. If they are both unattached, then they disappear before midnight. As a rule, such couples would not appear on that scene again for a long time, because that is a place for finding a new partner for a given time. Australians do not usually go out that much if they have a steady partner. However if there is a divorce, then tears and worry are not very long lasting. Just a couple of days - and off to the nightclub, for a prowl. It is more difficult for a deserted husband. Maybe that is why they seek consolement in Russian women.
Those who come to fulfil an immediate desire do not stand on ceremony for too long. Having selected a subject, they move in and strike a conversation, which very quickly culminates in a question "Are you alone" or if they are not particularly concerned about that, then the question is very direct "Do you have condoms?" It is then up to you to say that you are either married or gay. That would not offend - just disappoint. These issues must be resolved before midnight, otherwise there will only be gays and lesbians left. Such little events mostly happen on Wednesdays, when the desire returns after Saturday and it is too long to wait until Friday. Males, being aware of that principle, become more available. Law of the nightlife is: nightclubs are full on Fridays and Saturdays, they are empty Sundays to Tuesdays, then liven up on Wednesdays and empty on Thursdays.
Continuation of In-Between Chapters 4 and 5
You may have noticed that the previous chapter was written in Fiji, where the "wind of changes" carried me by the gust of winds from other resettlers from Switzerland. Roots of the better half of that couple stretch all the way to Odessa-Mama (town on the Black sea coast). Their wish to settle in a warm region was stronger than their attraction to roots. Australian rigid immigration laws pushed them into seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Their fascination with Fiji, an opportunity to visit that wondrous world, without requiring a visa in my "hammer and sickle" red passport and having a companion, an ex-staff officer of the Red Army with impenetrable appearance who was harboring a raging wind of changes within himself, made me fly out to investigate. New immigration laws no longer allowed me to stay in Australia without a great effort. And, in addition an ex-partner millionaire became rather active in blackmailing and pushing a dangerous (for him) witness out of the country. There was a need to investigate ways of surrendering and attacking Australian laws.
As requested by the editor of this book, I include an official report on Fiji and hope to return to the unofficial version at a later date. According to some readers, that report was received as a work of fiction and that is why it is inserted in this in-between-chapter.
FROM THE EDITOR
E. Shishorin and M. Sviridov, two travelers who are well known in closed circles, recently made a number of visits to Fiji, a beautiful nature"s creation of over 300 islands. Purpose of those visits was to explore possible opportunities of life and work on the islands. Those matters arose as a result of increased rigidity in the Immigration Laws of Australia and New Zealand. Many Russian and Russian speakers would like to leave the ex-USSR countries. Very often, however, high financial requirements for business migration and the administrative stoppers of the Australian Embassy in Moscow, serve as great deterrents. We feel that the following publication would be useful for people who want to change their place of residence.
Explore, Live and Work in Fiji
Fiji is situated in the South Pacific about 2000 km from Australia. Fiji is made up of 332 islands, two of the larger ones are Viti Levu - 10,429 sq.km. and Vanua Levu - 5,556 sq.km. Its capital is Suva. Fiji is a political, economic and immigration centre of South Pacific Republics.
The population of Fiji is 800,000 people, of which 45% are Fijians or Polynesians, 45% are Indians and 10% are Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Europeans. Main language is English; other languages used are Fijian and Hindi. Fijians are direct and friendly people and Indians are hard working and inconsequential people of Fiji Islands.
Climate in Fiji is tropical with 22 degrees and dry in winter (May - October), summer temperature is slightly higher with rainfalls. The underwater world of coral flutters in the crystal clear waters surrounding the islands. Birds and a few species of lizards wonder around the dry areas. There are no dangerous animals. The islands are covered in tropical forests and coconut groves.
New constitution was adopted in 1997, which opened new opportunities for internal and external politics and the economy. The country has Western System of Government and a dual Parliament House. Power structure is based on the principle of Prime Minister - President - Parliament.
Currency conversion is $1 Fijian corresponds to US$0.50.
Principle trade comprises of export sugar and tourism. Over 400,000 tourists visited Fiji last year. Other major exports include gold, timber and coconut oil. The economy is predominantly built on private enterprise with government participation in aviation, communication and sugar companies. Business is supported by flexible taxation system and low, 10% VAT (GST).
School education is compulsory and free of charge. That accounts for highly educated population. The country has a network of government and private schools with New Zealand education system implemented. There are a number of international schools with fees payable from F$1,500 to F$7,000 per year. Pacific Regional University, and Institutes of Medicine, Technology, Agriculture and Pedagogy all located in Suva.
COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSPORT
An expressway goes around the island. It is hard surfaced in the vicinity of populated areas and ballast in others. Small aircraft and marine transport are well developed. Nandi and Neisori have international airports which receive aircraft of various companies. There are also international ocean ports. Communication services are provided via modern systems.
New visa regulations, adopted since 2 June 1998, significantly simplified entry from various countries of the world. List of countries not requiring visas for a short-term visit is available. Russia is included as one of such countries.
It is much simpler to obtain a tourist or a business visa to Australia, for people from ex-USSR countries, in the Australian Embassy in Fiji than it is to do it through Moscow.
Firstly - it is the purity of the surrounding ocean, which is fairly contaminated in other well-known areas. Thus underwater diving among corals is accessible from any part of Fiji - great fishing and beautiful scenery will not leave room for boredom. Secondly, although the natives are highly educated and friendly towards white people, their way of life in villages is almost primitive. Thirdly, there is a well-developed service infrastructure, i.e. golf courses, swimming pools, etc.
Fiji is often a venue for international yacht races, fishing competitions, international seminars, etc.
As is expected of any tourist, you may visit all the interesting sights in Fiji. Travel to other islands, go up the stream of mountain rivers, visit a Fijian village, taste local foods and participate in traditional way of drinking "kava", a tonic drink, whose extract is currently widely distributed throughout America and Europe. People who enjoy diving or hunting may enjoy their hobby by the coral wall. Fishermen can hire a fishing boat and then worry about what to do with their huge catch. Those who enjoy frequenting bars, have nothing to worry about. Nightclubs are also happy to see you. It is important to note, though, that everything is rather on a small scale, sort of cosy, except of course the golf courses and the possible fishing catch.
For lovers of souvenirs, there are a lot of jewelry and leather goods as well as wooden carvings from hardwood and gifts from the sea.
It has become very popular, in America, Europe and Australia, to purchase land on an ocean beach and build a house on it, where people would visit a couple of times a year and rent out to tourists for the rest of the time, thus making an income. Some ex-tourists from South Africa, Germany, America, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand are currently settling there for good. So, you could make a business tour with a purpose of exploring the field of vacant land for sale.
To obtain permanent residence in Fiji, you may apply for three types of visa: residential, business and spouse. Visa is issued by way of an insert in your passport for a period of 3 years. After that it is extended, if you do not wish to become a Fijian citizen, or replaced by a different type of visa.
Fijian passport allows entry without a visa into many countries of the South Pacific region. There are no difficulties in obtaining a visa to other countries, either. A matter of awarding a community status to Fijian passport is currently under review - that would allow entry into over 150 countries of the world without a visa requirement.
In order to receive Fijian passport - you must reside in Fiji for a period of 5 years and not be away from Fiji for more than 2 years in total. Prior to submitting an application you must remain in Fiji for at least 12 months.