Свиридов Михаил Юрьевич
Australian Winds

Lib.ru/Современная: [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Помощь]
  • Комментарии: 3, последний от 22/09/2008.
  • © Copyright Свиридов Михаил Юрьевич (time2000@hotbox.ru)
  • Размещен: 06/07/2008, изменен: 22/09/2008. 218k. Статистика.
  • Повесть: Перевод
  • Оценка: 4.81*5  Ваша оценка:
  • 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
       Австралийские Ветры
       Australian winds
       Из Австралии с любовью
       From Australia with love
      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.
      Brisbane 2003
      "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.
      PART 1
       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!
      Chapter 1
      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:
      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.
      Chapter 2
      .... 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".
      In-Between-Chapters 2-3
      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:
      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.
      Chapter 3
      .... 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.
      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.
       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.
      Chapter 4
      .... 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.
      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.
      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 LIVE
      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.
      If your business is successful in the sense of providing new employment you could obtain a passport after 2 years.
      Fiji has a limited quantity of vacant land which may be sold to a foreigner. Pacific Harbor is an international town where you could buy a house property or land. However the land is privately owned and there may be difficulties with transfers. Some land properties are on the riverfront and there may be problems with flooding during rainy seasons.
      It is worth noting that diesel and solar generators generate electric power and they use septic systems. Water is taken from private pressure tanks which are filled from rivers and rainwater. So, those who are connected to a group generator, depend on the power supplier.
      Within a fifteen-minute drive from the Pacific Harbor, there is a Waidroka Bay land development with vacant land for sale. A mountain slope facing the ocean has been subdivided into 144 blocks. Some of the sold blocks within that zone already have holiday houses been built on them. An employee of Waidroka Bay Resort, a beachfront holiday resort, looks after the holiday houses during the owners" absence and rents them out to tourists, at the owners" request. Some blocks have houses for permanent residency. Children are driven to international schools at the Pacific Harbor. Price of land includes land clearing for construction and ballast road surfacing. Use of boats, aqualungs and a restaurant are available for use within the zone.
      There are other areas where there is vacant land available for sale. Coconuts is situated on the island of Vanua Levu within 15 km from the town Savusavu and Koro is situated on the Koro Island not far from the city of Nasau. Land is mostly bought by Americans, South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese etc.
      You could either build a house yourself or you could hire builders. It is worth noting that construction in Fiji is a very slow process. To build a 6 x 8m house would take in excess of 10 months. Price is about F$700 per square meter. It is much more effective to have a house built, to your plans, in Australia especially that such a house would be provided with a Quality Certificate for local conditions. Price is a little higher, but the quality and speed of construction is incomparably better. It would take about 4 months from the time of placing an order and receiving the keys.
      TO WORK
      It practically impossible to find a job in Fiji, maybe possibly teaching a foreign language (other than English) in an international school for F$12,000 a year. Looking into the possibility of buying an established business or opening a new one is a better prospect.
      Fiji"s operations are mostly run by foreign companies, however national manufacture is currently being developed. The government encourages Creation of joint operations, e.g. various manufacturing for internal and export requirements: aluminum products, farming equipment, boats, beer, food, construction materials, industrial furniture and tools, cement, cigarettes, concrete products, shoes, clothing, plastics, packaging materials, cleaning detergents, wooden carvings, etc. That seems sufficient for setting up own business in a place that is not barren. For the purpose of business development, there is a widespread system of exemptions from tax exemption import duty applicable to various manufactures and export.
      The country"s workforce comprises over 300,000 people. There is a 45 hour working week. The hourly rate is from F$1 to F$2.20 which constitutes an income of F$45 to F$100 per week. In Australia people earn between F$400 and F$1,500 per week.
      The Fiji Trade and Investment Board provides information and relevant assistance on request.
      One of the main government strategies is to provide the best possible opportunities for development of a business and not for controlling it. The government actively supports increase in exports, industrial processing of natural resources, business of improving workers" qualifications, manufacture of Fijian goods and any other activity concerned with road development and employment.
      Company would receive a tax exemption status if it: exports 70% of its products; 70% of re-saleable is exported; provides export services (such as tourism), manufacturing, packing and packaging; organization of conferences, meetings, competitions, etc. Other businesses are taxed at a rate no higher than 35% of net income.
      Business dealing with local raw materials has government support, i.e. sugar, tropical fruit, pork, beef, cocoa, fish, prawns, oysters, crab, gold, timber, mother-of-pearl, etc.
      There is a lot of potential in growing fruit and vegetables. For example, Fiji imports from Australia tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, grapes as well as pineapple and orange juice which adds up to over AU$300 million. Natural resources of Fijian soil and cheap labor allow that business to prosper. Fijian Ministry of Agriculture supports that business by leasing out land at low cost.
      Any business concerned with tourism has most advantages. Five-star hotels are exempt from taxes for 20 years. Other advantageous businesses include: construction and development of economy class motels and holiday resorts, nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, yacht maintenance workshops, etc.
      Current construction of a small complex in Savusavu which comprises: a nightclub, a restaurant and a pier for yacht maintenance, creates a lot of interest. A few investors could easily fund that jointly. At present, residents and tourists spend F$200 on flying to Suva in order to visit the nightclub. There is also a shortage of fishing boats, which cost from US$20,000 - that is not a bad level for starting a new business.
      Even though Fiji produces coffee - they prepare it worse than they did in the old canteens during Brezhnev"s time. Installation of coffee machines and opening up a network of cafes could be a good prospect.
      Furniture and timber processing industry is well developed in Fiji. Though there may be room for you in that business. Reason being that the industry was mainly aimed at the local market for utilization as building planks. On the other hand, Fiji produces valuable types of hardwood which are bought at low prices, but a parquetry board, for example is imported and is in demand. So, it could be a good idea to restructure manufacture of that produce to accommodate local demand and export.
      Brisbane, March 1999
      Having re-read those lines, I now understand the editor. Current situation in Fiji, where the power fell into the hands of the military command, and Australian airplanes no longer fly into that heavenly corner of the world causes one to understand that no European political laws nor systems could replace local customs, which are based on thousands of years of culture of the islanders. That is very reminiscent of a theory to build communism within a given country and of own experience within a given apartment.
      While I explored exotic islands, the magazine was gaining its strength. Efforts of some participants in that hopeless exercise, who strongly fought for spirituality and greatness of the Russian people, began to show the signs of going down towards something amorphous with a taste of orthodoxy in local interpretation. My comments began to undergo censorship. Russian Jews in Sydney started voicing their complaints that there was little to read and that the heading in the style of Russian Orthodox script frightened off buyers. The Russian club began to doubt sincerity of that Orthodoxy. In an effort to rescue the magazine and in support of my name, I was forced to include the following creation from the field of "Good night little tots!", but only after approval of the "spiritual leader".
      From the Author
      Having read the next part of discussion regarding the "Wind of Changes", some readers concluded that my publications introduce a lot of negative aspects. One of my favorite readers was especially indignant. Prior to showering me with a spray of criticism, she commended my writing capabilities and my unusual style of writing. Thanks for that. She particularly noted that, having such capability it would be best to write something soulful and pure. I honestly tried - it did not work. It is possible that my soul had hardened, my eyes see only the naked truth and my head is full of thoughts on how to continue existence in Australia, trying to ward off various bad habits of capitalist life. However, just to please her, having dug through the moldy scented private archives, I discovered my collection of poems and songs which I wrote when "the air was fresher and the honey was sweeter". One of them, which I think should be suitable for all age groups, I submit for severe judgement of the soul. Why that particular one? - you might ask. It"s just that when my collection was reviewed by V. Yeryomenko (who was listed after Y.Yeftushenko) a famous, among Soviet anthologists, poet, he marked it as having "ringing, rhythmic and clear" qualities. It would be interesting to know what my favorite reader would have to say about it.
      I also discovered a sketch of me at the time, made on page of an exercise book. I enclose it hereunder, so that my publications would no longer be "faceless".
      It would be very difficult to translate the poem from Russian to English with the same style and rhythm. So we can give short description of the poem.
      An Elephant
      The poem was written from female side, young woman who was trying to establish relationship with author. But she wanted to keep her freedom and personality. So she was calling her lover the Elephant, who did not want to be a little mouse, which could not prevent to sleep in the narrow bed. The poem was written with musical rhythm and humor finishing with conclusion: " If you can not bear the Elephant you have to become the Elephant yourself!" Finally the author asked all animals to live together friendly. This noted we have to reduce our ambition if we want to live together.
       By that time readers grew in number and not just the readers, but writers as well. Two new women, whose fates were similar to those of the Russian brides presented us with their thoughts and signed them with some names of beautiful flowers. They commended my efforts, as well. So it was difficult not to react after that.
      From the Author
      The editorial panel constantly intimated that I should continue publication of my notes. However I felt no push, until suddenly it sprang in the form of a letter from a reader, whose surname had a wonderful perfume. Being very sensitive to smells, I immediately dipped my fingers into ink (something happened to my printer - maybe it refused to print my nonsense). At the start of my notes, it was easy to maintain a style of sarcastic humor, because when you joke about good events - it evokes positive emotions. But, the closer you get to reality and its negative aspects, then notes acquire a trace of tragic sarcasm. So I would like you to stop me in time. I sincerely hope that your reminders would force me to catch up to date - so that I could march in step with the present!
      Chapter 5
      .... and I felt anticipation of seeing my Motherland, when I stepped onboard JAL airline, which brought me to Australia two years ago with such courtesy. A German-made suit acquired in Soviet times, pressed against my gut, in the same way as it did when I arrived - I did not wear it until that solemn occasion of my return. Nothing had changed - the airplane hummed with Japanese looking individuals, among which Australians wormed their way in and there were some Russian comrades. Having looked around, I noticed a young woman who was crying, she looked neither Australian nor Asian. That was pleasant - to encounter something different from the standard picture. A "wind of changes" began making its way through my imagination.
      My trip to Tokyo was quite uneventful. I sat next to a middle aged Russian couple, whose better half totally forbade the other half to partake in any alcoholic beverages. However, he still managed to take a little cognac, on the sly, in the servery, thanks to generous airhostesses. I spent part of my flight in business class, talking to an acquaintance. I must point out that the service and the food were the same, the only difference was that there was 20cm more legroom and 5cm more backside room.
      The airport hotel Norita welcomed its migrating birds in the usual way. Except its walls looked duller and the interior wooden panels were shabbier, but the goldfish in the pond grew to the "size of a good salmon". While queuing for room allocation, I managed to practice my English and to find that my hunch about the young woman not being Australian was right. She was a Londoner and was returning there for a visit, having married an Australian of Italian descent - she was crying because of being away from him. How romantic!
      Immediately after breakfast they started loading buses for the airport. As we entered the airport, slant-eyed persons in uniforms demanded passports, which had been packed away in our luggage. However the let us through without a fuss. It is worth noting that three years prior to that there was no such control. It seems that the wind of changes blows all over the world. I felt the Australian trait again on the airplane. I was sat next to, seemingly, a Macdonald"s fan. No matter how I would position myself on the seat, I kept feeling soft protruding parts of his body. I finally grew tired of that and went to seek political asylum from the airhostesses. Having got it, I spent the rest of my flight, drowsing in the rest room. My Russian companions tried to find me, but when I was found, I did not disclose the secret of my absence.
      The airplane began to reduce height and the usual landscapes of unkempt Moscow regional spring fields appeared in the view. What"s to come? The beautiful Sheremetyevo airport, had it transformed over the years of faultless performance by the customs? Alas! We made out way to the passport control via a dirty lino covered hall, where service was split in two directions. Foreigners went to one cabin and for Russian citizens returning from abroad there were two cabins (that"s progress!) We were greeted by the Chief of the frontier shift. His nose was red and there was a specific smell of freshly consumed alcohol. He questioned us about the frontier service in Australia in a good-natured manner. To our comments on the line of passport services in previous ports of travel, he genially retorted that the airport was currently under repair and that it would be of equal standard on completion. Rigid women, clad in frontier uniforms, backed by similarly rigid young men, were standing behind the glass inside cabins. They asked tourists why were they two weeks late coming back. Frightened tourists were mumbling that they extended their trips because travel took up over four days from the ten allocated and there was little left for site seeing. After thump of a stamp, the excuses were accepted with a warning that it should not happen again. I couldn"t even imagine what questioning awaited me for being two years late. However, having thoroughly studied my passport, a rigid woman asked me tenderly and with surprise, when did I last visit Russia. On my reply, she stated "You should have told me so before!" I shrugged my shoulders which could have meant: "You did not ask". My passport was returned with a question posed in approving and tender voice "Are you working there?" I was a little hurt for being crossed off the list of Russian citizens. There was still hope to catch up at the customs inspectorate. As usual, the floor was riddled with customs declarations in various languages, except Russian. The freshly arrived tourists, in a panic, were searching for their old forms and having failed, filled out new ones. The loudspeakers were sternly announcing: "Have those declarations ready which you completed when being let out of the country!" Of course, I did not have mine, so I had to complete a new one on a French form. A young man with reddish face and a similar particular smell, cockily tormented tourists demanding declaration forms completed on departure. When it was my turn, I had to explain that there was no way that I could have kept my declaration completed two years ago. I was hurt again, as he said "Well don"t just stand there - go through quickly!" They took me off their lists here as well! The only consolation was that I managed to keep a wine cask, which I thought my Moscow friends should enjoy from being inspected or tasted.
      At last I came out to face the crowd welcoming, which was in total contrast to the Australians. Firstly, the crowd consisted of darkish shades of the early spring clothing. Secondly, you could no longer notice smiling faces. Thirdly, everything was blurred in a dimly lit building, which hid paleness of faces (perhaps something happened to the Lenin"s lightbulbs). In virtual darkness, I singled out the dark silhouette of a friend who came to meet me. It was impossible to guess whether he was happy to see me because of the grim look on his face. Australia spoilt me indeed. Having come outside, I took a deep breath and inhaled spring air full of seasonal smells .... and almost choked by, the polluted with airplane fuel, air. Never mind, I thought, I should try it elsewhere. Having come to the parking station, I could hardly recognize my old beautiful car Mitsubishi Diamond. I immediately remembered that, in Moscow, it is best to wash the car either every day or twice a year. Having squeezed my insignificant luggage in the locker with difficulty, we drove along the Sheremetiev freeway, which used to be the best road. Oh God! That is what they call a road! However, my comrade calmly explained that all the efforts were currently thrown into construction of a four-lane circle road and the best way now, was to go through the centre (which I used to avoid at all costs in the past). Going on the Sadovy Circle, he commented: "See how everything had been painted!" Unfortunately, neither the colour scheme nor the quality of painting evoked any delight in me, and further from the centre - the roads and the rubbish pollution became progressively worse. I could already imagine what it would be like in the vicinity of Metro station Konkovo.
      I was wrong - it was much worse. Konkovo free market was instrumental in there being rubbish all over the area. Cars were parked anywhere and anyhow among the multitude of little one-car garages. Though when I was leaving, there were promises to put a stop to that arrangement once and for all. As did everyone else, we smartly stopped by the entrance to my house, in the middle of the road ridden with potholes which multiplied since I left Moscow. The shabby door and the stairs did not evoke any feelings of nostalgia. And when I saw my mother, my heart ached at the sight of that military communist, then an anticommunist, an inventor of Soviet national scale, had turned into a bewailing old woman. The returned wind of changes did not bring any joy.
      The appearance of a two room spec apartment designed for a family, evoked a depressing impression, after staying in a cheapest unit on the Gold Coast for $155 per week. What used to seem to be family heirlooms now looked like rubbish that had passed its use by date. I immediately remembered my Moscow moves from apartment to apartment, when we were endlessly engaged in shifting our belongings and then forever sorting them out in an effort to store them in cupboards, walls, or niches where there was never enough room. There is something in common with Australians here, though they do it a little more rationally. They store all their rubbish in boxes in garages and when they move, they just shift the boxes without ever unpacking them. In the three weeks while I was there, I managed to throw out twenty-four bags of rubbish while my valuable belongings were reduced to the contents of one cupboard. I was once again convinced that all that we had acquired in our lifetime is worth nothing. It was more difficult for my mother. She tried to look over every item contained in packets, boxes and suitcases which had not been opened for over ten years. My suggestion to throw everything out without looking at it was totally unacceptable and virtually everything was repacked.
      The purpose of my visit was to bring my mother to Australia with me and at the same time to sell our apartment. There were no problems in finding buyers for the apartment, but we had a "really good time" trying to formalize the transfer. That process involves gathering a certain number of statements, from various establishments, which could only be obtained in sequence, one after the other. Those establishments have the same working hours and are situated in various areas of the huge city of Moscow. The only joy was that number of people in queues was roughly equivalent to the number of working hours of each station. So there was no need to make an appointment. That was quite a progress. Thus, to transfer ownership of an apartment would take three weeks at the very least. Some of my acquaintances who went to Moscow for the same reason for a week, ended up spending as much time, though having been spoilt by Australia, they hired agents.
      What did I manage to see in-between finalizing the sale and throwing out the rubbish. Let"s go back to the smells. They didn"t seem to make much impression, however, my lips and mouth were constantly dry, and I had black dust coming out of my ears and nose. My system must have already adapted to the Australian humidity and clean air, and was acting as an air-conditioning filter in Moscow. Human system possesses surprising qualities. A student joke springs to mind immediately: "We don"t have any flies in our dormitories.... Because they cannot survive these living conditions." Visual effects were also playing tricks. Surrounding colors seemed dull and there was no sharp contrast with the spring, no freshness of new grass, which had difficulty cutting through the well trampled and petrol soaked ground. After such impressions, there was no longer any desire to walk over to the natural park in order to lean against a birch tree. Excuse my lack of patriotism. Refurbishing of the Moscow buildings, which everybody talked about so much, did not manage to hide quality of the walls and the layer of dust of a large city. My contaminated vision allowed me to see things that were not noticeable to Moscovites. Those included steel reinforced grills, installed a meter from the walls and shop windows from ground and up to the roof. That, somehow resembled a neutral ground, but without the guard dogs. You might assume that I could only see the negative side. That"s not true, I managed to spot the improvements as well. Having been one of the founding shareholders of a restaurant, I had planned to dig a cellar under it to set up a mini brewery. Can you imagine - they did it, only instead, there was now a second hand clothing shop, and the dream of a cellar remained with me. When I went to visit staff working at the restaurant, they rushed towards me with tears in their eyes: "Have you really come back?" However there was a time when they disliked me for making them earn their food instead of stealing it (it used to be an absolute shame for a restaurant employee to go home with an empty bag), for ticking them off if they wore dirty clothes and for dirt in general. People"s earnings depended on the turnover which allowed them to increase their income five-fold over six months. Then they started earning enough money to buy things other than restaurant goods. Now I saw dirt and neglect again. To my question where was my ex-partner, I heard a pleasant response: "He is always happy in the background of dirt and needy employees!" It was pleasant because I managed to saw the seeds of something new and unusual in their lives. Maybe it was then that I managed to get the wind of changes blowing.
      In-Between Chapters 5 and 6
      Issues of the magazine were beginning to stabilize by that time - we sold everything that was printed. However there were a growing number of voices wanting to change its name so as to make it more international for all the Russian speakers. The orthodox script was bothering people, regardless of the fact that there were articles on Moses as well as principles of Islamic faith. It was at that time that the Pope pronounced that God was not an all-powerful man with a beard, but called Him Mother Nature. That created a stir in catholic circles - how is it that God became a female, but the orthodox people, who seemed to be losing their idol, were wildly indignant. So, all of that coincided with my account of the current Russia. Thus I became a Motherland slanderer as well as an apostate. I wasn"t quite sure what I apostated from, if I had never been a believer. I then had to make my excuses to the reader.
      From the Author
       After the last publication, I listened to the criticisms directed at me, which culminated in the fact that my writing was becoming more and more negative, especially in the direction of Motherland. "Where does Motherland begin...."?
      So where does it begin? For me - it began in the courtyard among six storied red bricked buildings which were 33 years old and situated in the revolutionary Krasnaya Presnia, where I spent my childhood years prior to completing high school. Interior roads were not paved there, and the flowerbeds were surrounded by green picket fences. There was no grass under the large poplars. So, there was earth and poplar fluff everywhere. That however did not evoke any negative emotions in me. It is only when they started to surface the roads, my negative emotions began. The smell of annual maintenance of the roads together with particular dust and the poplar fluff circling over the paved road began to irritate me.
      What else was there? The sudden sound of a passing tram, which flew into the open window. Old women sitting on benches, who would rush home at the first sound of the news music coming out of the open windows, to listen to the news of new satellites sent into space or new astronauts. The stretched sounds of parents: "Mi-i-sh-a-a .... time to come ho-o-me; Pa-a-sh-a-a .... Ho-o-me" etc. A milkman, a second-hand dealer and many other memories that time and developing civilization were taking away from me year by year.
      My mother is Estonian with Dutch background, so visiting Tallinn evoked a new flow of emotions. My final essay in Grade 8 on the topic "My Motherland" was dedicated to Estonia. I was very surprised then by the contrast between rugged looking Russia and a neat country of my ancestors. My understanding of "Motherland" became much broader.
      Meeting people became my favourote collection, which I have been patiently collecting since my graduation. I used to go on business trips, connected with my scientific work, all over the USSR and met people of various nationalities, who were very close to me spiritually but the advancing sham began taking that Motherland away from me as well.
      So if I abuse your Motherland (I mean your idea of a Motherland), then please forgive me, but I cannot wrap, in a pretty wrapper that which I can see and feel and if the Motherland has been sick for a long time now, it would be wrong to talk about her healthy rosy cheeks when it is a clearly defined allergy. But if I am wrong, then I would like to see a different Russia and a different point of view on the pages of the magazine.
      Chapter 6
      .... and what about the people? The wind started blowing from a different direction here, as well. Those, who I thought were waiting for me and would be glad to see me, mostly greeted me with an air of aloofness: "It"s wonderful that you are here, we must get together, let me just try and make time....", and yet others, whom I wished to see, but thought might be too busy, turned out to be genuinely interested.
      Thus, my timetable in Russia was spilling over the brim. I completely forgot about the existence of so-called Russian business, which always demands a lot of time day and night in order to sell a "train of marmalade". (That comes from a Russian joke on Russian business: Two Russian businessmen run into each other in a dark alley. One says to the other "Do you want a train of marmalade?" - "Of course I do", replies the other. "One million rubles, OK?" says the first "No problem" replies the second. So they both went their separate ways - one to look for a train of marmalade and the other for the million rubles). So, my newly surfaced and forgotten partners used to call me day and night, calling me to meetings at three in the morning, promising to pay for the taxi, then very successfully forgetting to do that on my arrival. That did not upset me very much, because to go through half of Moscow only cost around $10, which is nothing compared with Australian prices. It is worth pointing out that taxi drivers in Moscow are extinct and I usually hired a lift in a rusty old bomb, having fear that you might need to put your foot on the ground, through the chassis, if you try to put your foot on the brake. I did not have anything against the Metro, which were not as crowded as they used to be. It was probably because people had no reason to hurry any more. People, in starving Russia, are dressed much more extravagantly than they did before. In Australia in public transport, you would not see such well-dressed people.
      I used to enjoy very much people in the Metro and gladly shared problems connected with the peak hour, until I got my own car. Now I had the opportunity to enjoy a long forgotten feeling of being in Motherland. I was very amused by a scene, which I encountered coming home late one evening. As usual, trying to catch tunes from my young days through the "white noise" of the charging in darkness train, I spotted two blokes who were sitting at opposite ends of an empty seat opposite me. One of them began to slide over the cheap seat cover towards the other and, elbowing him in the side asked him: "Would you like a drink?" The reply was positive, of course. Then the first bloke pulled out an opened bottle of cognac from his sock and offered it to his neighbour. The bottle exchange continued until its contents were empty. "What about a chat?" After a lengthy pause, the first bloke elbowed the other in his side again and exclaimed, nodding in my direction "Look at that bloke sitting opposite us - doesn"t he look very much like Stollone?" "Yeah". After that the pause remained forever. Having studied my reflection in the window of the train, I smiled to myself and thought that the only resemblance between myself and the famous Italian were bags under the eyes, which were quite heavy from lack of sleep.
      At the beginning I could not sleep because of the jet lag and constant feeling of alarm, which ran through my heart like a chill. A feeling of unease and some fear of being in a strange and unrealistic world continually haunted me; a feeling that unpleasantness waited for me around every corner. Then, peculiarities of running business in Russia, where they sleep by day and deal at night, kept me awake. And if they have to be at work in the morning (that means after 10.00am), their faces look crushed and their eyes look reddish, through slits.
      I met with just such a looking face on the third day of my arrival in Moscow. Grigori, "a dear friend of mine was born on shores of.... Yaremcha (a village and a river in Carpaths mountains), where I too had good times, but bad for me is northern place" (I mean here, the Northern Hemisphere). He was up to his neck in big business. I gave him a call simply to say "hello." However I sensed his genuine pleasure and agreed to see him in his office immediately. His office was situated in the building of Scientific Research Institute, where I previously worked. Letting property to banks or offices became the source of main income for an institute that used to employ thirty thousand people, in order to keep the remaining 2,500 employees including pregnant women and maintenance workers. I headed off with the pleasant anticipation of meeting up with a friend and seeing my old institute where we both spent over 10 years, working. It was nice to remember the procedure of entering the institute, where a militia officer would discuss with the office secretary, my ability to enter the security area. Having received permission to enter, I used an elevator and went through the hallways of the old Institute. The changes were overwhelming. Instead of the shabby plastic elevator panels and slightly painted walls, which tried to hide marks made by constant moves of sections from one side of the building to another (that usually happened three times every two years; management used to be very educated and did not want employees to get bored or feel the onset of stagnation), what I saw was a very stylish interior, which would favorably compare with an office in Australia.
      My old friend, who was slightly heavy from "regular lack of food" and not enough morning sleep, with whom my relationship was much friendlier than that of my ex-colleagues. My stand-by souvenirs were quickly passed on to the secretary, and the stand-by cask of Australian wine was met with a deep sigh: "Not drink again". We had a very soulful discussion, over glasses of red wine, which lasted through the day and invited some of my other, but not as close, friends. Everything in "that world" was upside down: an old sturdy and tall Boss (whose brother used to be the Secretary of the Youth Communist League) remained in his position, but he now worked for a Boss, who used to be his subordinate. Those who used to be secretaries of regional Party organizations and who were big bosses as a result, were now dedicated workers in private business. A fatally ill person, who had seriously damaged his health in the course of building and developing socialism, did not escape the tender care of his ex-co-workers. In fact, they became his best friends and found an opportunity to take him fishing, maybe for the last time and invited his doctor to come along as well. It was very nice to see that the wild capitalism did not change everyone.
      Our daily meetings became a permanent event in a little trendy restaurant, where you could get a good meal. Having cursed Australian beer previously, I decided to try some of the local brew that used to be my favorite. Then I understood that I was very wrong. In exchange, I was offered a great variety from European collection and I found a worthy competitor to the Australian beer. So I began experimenting. Smoked salmon tasted just like Tasmanian. Later it was revealed that it was imported from Canada. And there is the vodka, of course. I am not a great fan of vodka, but the Australian diluted pure alcohol of the purest quality could not even begin to compete with the real Russian vodka with a slight scent of raw brandy. My mates wanted to show me all the positive changes in the time that I was away. So, I decided to try pork. At that time, I was not wrong - they don"t produce pork like that in Australia. (In Australia, they feed pork with natural feed and it grows tough meat, then just before slaughtering, they fatten it up slightly. As a result - neither the meat nor the fat are good. Russian pigs picks up anything that it can find, then its meat is riddled with fatty veins, so that when it is cooked it turns out especially juicy and tender). Why did I say "at that time"? The reason is that after a few hours, my stomach, which had already got used to the right food, rebelled. I wouldn"t say that all the food in Australia is good, but the abundance of it makes it easier to find the right food to suit yourself.
      Having been warmed up by the food and the drink, Grisha (nick name for Gregory) decided to show me the nightlife of Moscow and we went to an elite casino "Metelitsa". We were thoroughly searched with metal detectors at the entrance and were given unexchangeable set of chips, by way of an entry fee. Judging by Grigori"s enthusiastic description, I expected to see something monumental that could only be found in Moscow, something that could not be compared with the small town like the Gold Coast and its Jupiter"s Casino. Imagine my surprise when all I saw was a large dim-lit room with a few tables where a few businessmen and bandits were playing blackjack. There were prostitutes hanging around who outnumbered the players by about ten times. They were changing players" chips for money. What made me think they were prostitutes? Because as we were coming in, Grisha said "Prostitutes!", "Grisha" replied the prostitutes. In my view, it is purely because of them that the "Metelitsa" is not bankrupt.
      One of the girls kept approaching Grisha wanting to exchange plastic currency for the "wooden" (that term was introduced when the American dollar was referred to as hard currency, so the soviet people named the ruble "wooden"). In the end he lost his patience and said: "Are you working for the entire kolkhoz (collective farm)?" His comment was not far from the truth. Young girls leave kolkhozes and look for night jobs all over Moscow and Europe. Some of them succeed. They might be noticed by some employed person with money, who could set them up in some apartment, educate them in a decent professional skill and then employ them. In such a way, some unaccomplished farm worker, Masha, would be smiling at you from behind her boss"s reception desk. Something of that sort was mentioned in classical literature over a hundred years ago and it was not frowned upon. Thus the cycle became vicious - from nationalization of women during the years of the revolution to emancipation in the years of perestroika (restructuring).
      Abundance of food, vodka and impressions helped me overcome the jet lag and I slept till ten in the morning at last, being woken up by new telephone calls from the risen businessmen. The rolling ball of the Russian business began to wrap around me and make me think that that was reality. The long forgotten shuffle around contracts, projects, sample catalogues and other such guff began again. I somehow managed to forget a story about one of my acquaintances, who left for America and came back twelve months later. He said that if you tell someone there that you were out with Clinton last night, they simply wouldn"t believe you, but here when you talk about having been drinking with Victor Chernomyrdin (former prime minister), you could dig up some sort of a contract. It was in such a way that I received an order from a distant relative for supplying cheap Australian butter. (Maybe he is not a relative at all. My brother is in a defacto relationship. His defacto"s daughter is married to that so-called "relative"). That relative used to belong to the USSR Karate league of veterans and often helped the Mayor of Moscow to deal with unruly bandits and businessmen by simply bringing in his team and frighten them off by their appearance. His proposal suggested that the Mayor"s office would collect people"s money up front, as was done before, and fund the contract - any cash surplus would be pocketed. The grandure of the proposal was exciting, the only thing missing was the food samples. I later couriered some butter samples from Australia and not having heard anything for a while, I enquired whether they ate the samples at last or not. Of course they ate the samples, but they forgot that those were intended for some big business deal, but since I telephoned perhaps I could send out some more, as they would hadn"t quite got the taste. When in Moscow, you don"t notice these tricks and you run around like mad creating a pseudo "wind of changes".
      And what of my other friends who used to be in Science and Research. Most successful were those, whom before leaving for Moscow I pushed into business. One of them progressed from a junior publishing clerk in scientific journal industry to the Editor-in-Chief and ventured a foreign trademark, a new wife and a new baby. That"s not a bad achievement in a two-year period. The female sector of the scientific world continued on its earlier planned path. Some, while "the striking iron was hot", re-married again and while they were being paid, quickly acquired a child. Others, who decided not to get married again, or stayed married, moved up through service in various financial companies. Their main concern became to support a company and what is most surprising of all - they achieved that. My scientific ex supervisor, who was almost blind, went to Israel where he had a successful operation done and, I believe, lives happily now. It seems that life is in full swing! Unfortunately romantic idealists remained with their fantasies and almost without work or means to existence.
      I managed to visit a country house of one of the "New Russians". In this case, I do not mean a shameful businessman with pocketfuls, but Grigory. He managed to earn a bit of money during the perestroika in order to create "communism for a given family". He managed to buy two blocks of land and build a house of his dreams. It is a timber and brick house with high ceilings, a small indoor swimming pool, gym room and a billiard room, of course. I would not class it as huge by Australian standards, but for the countryside around Moscow it is impressive, especially to his neighbors. It is not often that they could finish building their houses. There are a lot of unfinished constructions. Some left to go abroad, (there are not many of those). Others disappeared (with somebody else"s money, or without any money at all), some were murdered. Thus he became a slave of his property. He had two huge dogs guarding the territory behind a high fence. Bore hole, water and heating demand constant servicing and work.
      It is worth noting something pleasant. In the past, Grigory had an unusual worker in his department who never drank and honestly performed his duties. And now, Grigori built a little house for him on his plot, where he lives and looks after the plot and the house.
      That visit encouraged me to visit my "dacha - country house", especially that, rumour had it, some people were interested in purchasing it. Plots of the so-called "Gardening Camaraderie" became much more developed over the time - there was a lot of construction and reconstruction. Building materials were strewn all over the place and even on the road. In the past, an owner would try and clear the road as soon as possible, but now everything seemed to end up in rough arguments regarding whose responsibility it should be. To my amazement, my house which I spent building with my own hands and did not get to enjoy using my property, looked wonderful and was ready for moving into immediately. There was one problem, people who wanted to buy it, were offering me five times less than the market value. That was a standard attitude towards people who were leaving to go abroad.
      I went to see a neighbor whose house was filled with American flags. We talked about Australia. In response I was told: "Russia is our country, though unkempt or unpredictable, but it is ours and live in it we must and share all its problems as well!" Coming from a fan of American lifestyle, that sounded rather pathetic. Why should we share the problems? It is better to share the joys and overcome the problems. Up till that time he was successful in overcoming problems, being on good terms with party leaders of the local authorities. Now, some local Chechen authorities were frequenting his souna.
      In the hustle and bustle of socializing, I was no longer paying any attention to the surrounding ruin, though sometimes it made itself known. Once, walking past the Konkovski Market, I was stopped by the municipal militia and given the "third degree". The entire market was surrounded, but I managed to catch a glimpse of faces, which were obviously of criminal nature, among the group. As it turned out later, bandits posing as militia, were taking over the "power of influence" in the market. I feel that the city authorities were also given some bribe. It is no secret that Luzhkov (Moscow Mayor) gathered together all the Moscow bandits under the wing of what used to be the SEV building. Some time ago, when I still had faith in honest business, I was invited to the Moscow Mayor"s office to discuss a matter regarding the use cash issued on credit. I remember being very unpleasantly surprised to see masters, presiding in chairs, wearing leather jackets, with cut ears and broken noses, not to mention the jargon they used.
      From time to time I needed to change dollars to rubles and it is worth noting that bank tellers have come a long way from the little white exchange windows that used to be made from armored planks of wood taken from wooden cases. The bank interior was quite modern, but the servicing personnel were of a "kiosk" class. One well-presented man changed his money and wanted a receipt. A few minutes later he came back and said that his receipt stated that he changed currency, but he wanted one to take currency out of the country. He was immediately bombarded with a long tirade which meant that he should have stated that earlier. His polite explanation that his request for a receipt was precisely the reason for wanting to take currency out of the country. That was met with grumbling accusations directed towards the quiet client, while the receipt was being re-written. "People do not change", I thought to myself with satisfaction.
      My experience in communicating with my relations confirmed my suspicions that - everything that we send them from Australia is important to us and not to them. Once the gifts were distributed, the interest subsided after a very brief conversation. One should not be too eager when describing life in Australia, because they can only see it from the outside and it seems very attractive to them. What they would really like, is to feel sorry for you, having left your Motherland, you feed from the rubbish bins. That is what they used to preach to us, not so long ago, in the times of blossoming socialism - that was how rotting capitalism was presented to us.
      The day of going back to Australia had arrived. "The rolling ball of Russian business" rolled up to my door. Two hours before my flight, there was a queue of people outside my door waiting to sign some resolutions, contracts, power of attorneys, etc. In the end, a person who met me and was seeing me off said: "We will not get to Sheremetievo on time. It is a peak hour and the circle road is under repair." However we risked it and thanks to unerasable memory of little back streets and alleys we managed to go around all the traffic and reached the point of departure. Again the customs and the passport control. By now, having spent three weeks in Moscow in training, I went through without any surprises or comments - or maybe the outgoing control is much more relaxed than the incoming. Thus I sat in a seat of "my" JAL airplane.... and it suddenly occurred to me: "All that I did in Moscow is a myth". That is precisely what the future showed. There was not one single telephone call regarding any of the grand contracts or projects. It somehow made me feel good....
      Maybe it was the "wind of changes" that dispelled that stupefying myth.
      In-Between Chapters 6 and 7
      Under the pressure of well wishes the magazine changed its name from "Vedomosti" to "Southern Cross". On the other hand, Russian club members or creators of the "Vedomosti" in no way wanted to be responsible for articles in the magazine. The changed name somehow evoked a desire in me to read through all the previous issues. Having been ill, I had time to have a look what exactly it was that we were publishing. I was shocked, to be honest, it all seemed so weak and so ironed out, as though the magazine was apologizing for something. A thought immediately crossed my mind: "There is not enough spice here". Having spotted some pseudonyms named after plants, I decided to call myself "Ivan Repeinick" (Ivan "The Stinging Nettle" - a severe critic). How unpopular that made me with the readers! Some even expressed surprise: "He slurs the magazine and they print it". That was not true. The editor often excluded my comments from the text. I expressed my viewpoint on the magazine in a letter from Ivan Repeinick
      . But, prior to reading it, I would suggest to look through an article about the magazine, which somehow explains what type of a magazine it really is.
      Under the Southern Cross
      Those who arrive in Australia (from Russia) are very surprised at lack abundance of Russian language literature. For those who have lived here for a long time - it is a normal set of events. They already know that Russian speaking population here is quite small, and in most cases they are not used to reading. That is why any effort to set up an issue of a periodic publication evokes ironic shake of the head. Well, the newspapers have, somehow or other, survived, but the magazines?! That is easy to understand. If you take any Australian magazine in any supermarket - it has a smell of fresh typographic paint and glows with bright colors. However, there is absolutely nothing much to read in them. No Russian issue with a small circulation could possibly compete with magnates of the advertising journalism. So how could the magazine attract readers. Perhaps by publishing little fragments of our lives in Australia. That is, it seems, what the "Southern Cross" became known for.
      History of creation of that magazine goes into, not so distant, past. Konstantin Drosdovski, President of a Russian Club in Brisbane tried to publish an information leaflet "Vedomosti". Its purpose was quite pragmatic - make a saving in the meagre resources of various Russian organizations, which issue their specific information leaflets or advertisements. The idea was met with everyone"s support, but the result, as usual - zero. Thus from 1995, an information leaflet started being published quarterly, by the Russian Club. It could have died, had it not been for the fact that a new wave of Russian migrants started arriving in Brisbane. They were full of energy and were not spoilt by the impenetrable Australian practicality. A large group of professionals and amateurs (which, admittedly very quickly thinned out) got together and were quite keen to issue a monthly magazine. So, what happened next? The magazine appeared and started to be sold out. Surprising isn"t it, but why?
      There are as many views as there are people. The first view was that if the magazine managed to survive for nearly a year, with its thirty-two double-sided pages, and a colored cover; it hadn"t wrapped up as many other initiatives before, then it must be worthwhile and might be worth subscribing to. The second view was that, even if it is not quite at professional level sometimes, it is original and you wouldn"t find anything like it anywhere else. The third view was - I wouldn"t read it for three dollars. Indeed those do not read.
      The magazine is now split into six columns. First column is on "Events, Facts, News" and it highlights mainly news in the activities of Brisbane Russian speaking population, as well as Australian news. Some people think that they could get Australian news from the newspapers. However there are some whose English is not good enough and they happily gobble up slightly rough translation in the magazine. News regarding the ever-changing Immigration Law always interest those who want to bring out their relatives or friends, or those who are not, as yet, firmly merged with the multicultural friendly family of the Russian speaking population of Australia.
      A column on "Spiritual Discussions" began with preaching and comments by the local Church priests and, unfortunately, did not attract Russian churchgoers to the magazine, but deterred the unbelievers or people of other religions from buying the magazine. We gradually managed to amend that section by replacing the narrow strictly religious topic with topics on issues concerned with various religions from philosophical and historical viewpoint. Judging by unofficial comments, the clergymen, themselves, discover some interesting points and problems in that section. So, what"s in it for us, the ignoramuses?
       There was no column dealing with "Interviews" in the beginning. However, that has now become of great interest, because it is all about Russian Australians, or views of Russians on Australia. History topics are varied. Some of those are badly written, others contain scandalous behavior. In any case, some people like that, others spit on it. Though it does not matter how it is written, it is still our history and we cannot deny it.
      Column on "Thoughts and Views" includes specific topics, and because of their peculiarities, it is difficult to class them as literary works, however they touch on specific issues. "Wind of changes" attracts constant animation. Some readers say that they do not want to buy the magazine, solely because of that writer - but they must somehow read it in order to criticize it and bring it to the attention of the editorial panel. Other readers say that food related matters are of no interest to them at all, but the "Wind of Changes" represents a nice change.
      Column on "Literary Corner" includes everything that makes reading a real pleasure. That could be material on classics or someone"s literary efforts. That is where a reader"s dream to be published may come true. Admittedly, other readers are not always happy about that.
      "Health and Beauty" is always of great interest to Russians who have been here for a long time and, therefore, have not had much opportunity to discuss what to eat, how to live, how to keep yourself in good shape. Column on "Business" only appears when there is some material available. A page in the magazine is always open for anyone who could offer valuable advice. And if we receive letters from our readers, then that often presents an interesting case for disputes, on the second last page. Last page collects all types of humor, from smutty - to dumb - to so subtle that it is practically impossible to understand for anyone, except its writer.
      Technical Editor, of "Southern Cross".
      That article offers some idea about the magazine. But of course I smoothed it out quite a lot. In reality it was much more controversial. The Russian Club points out how good it would be to have dinner there. People in all sincerity give lessons on life, diet, work and just about everything, even how to .... The printed letter "Thinking aloud" met with so much criticism from the readers, that one could even suspect that they may have been intrigued by preachers of the soul. Dr. Paul Angel, a soviet doctor from the Ukraine, frightened everyone so much by creatures of the sea and land, that one could almost believe that life in Russia is safer. That is why a title of Solzhenitsin"s book "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" sprang to mind, so why not write a letter from Ivan Denisovich Repeinick -Ivan "The Stinging Nettle".
      Recently I read through all the issues of the "Vedomosti" and even touched on the "Southern Cross". I was sick, I was probably very sick. Having battled through all of the seven issues, I came to the conclusion that everything in that magazine came from exactly the same sources, and that it would be difficult for them to offer something new. Our journalists have very narrow range of interests. Most of all I enjoyed a letter "Thinking aloud". Wonderful times of soviet optimism came to mind immediately, except I see that people live much better and more freely. All the children were taken care of during the holidays, there were holiday resorts and camps in Anapa - and they went off to travel around Europe. The only problem is - the tours are no less than 10 days. After that letter, I arrive at the conclusion that the editorial panel pours water on the mill of anti-Russian extremists who are playing the field in Australia. All is well in Russia. It is time to go back to the East. Inspired by that letter I decided to write a little story and if you like it I will write more and even try to address it to the "Literary" column.
      Sincerely yours, Ivan Denisovich Repeinick.
      One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
      I got up early, as usual. My sleep was restless. Having read enough of magazines, I guzzled up apples throughout the previous day. They were so tender, tasty, so good for you, so healthy. I took each bite with a feeling of bliss. That did not help. Towards evening, I cooked some prawns, according to the old Russian custom and, devoid of any pleasure, I was stuffing those red beasts inside of me and top it up with some beer. That is why I had a terrible nightmare - I was digging a well and was throwing clay onto the surrounding green grass. That probably means that I acquired something life-producing from all that reading, but I misused it. I was woken, from my nightmare, by kookaburras - the beasts. I would so much rather hear the, dear to my heart, crowing of the crows by the rubbish dump or the chirping of fighting sparrows. But once I decided to start a new life - then it"s decided. Having jumped out of bed, I ran to the bathroom sink and saw something horrifying looking at me from the mirror. My hair stood on end from such horror, as it would if I were bitten by a spider or a snake as in the stories of Paul Angel, our storyteller. But then, having remembered Magnolia"s prophecy, I calmed down and realized that it was I, Ivan Repeinick. What a mug! Having taken a refreshing warm shower, as there was not enough water in the cooling tank, no longer afraid of my own reflection, I ran out to the green, soft and fresh grass, carefully avoiding the strewn single-use syringes with some drugs and Hepatitis B still left in them. In my heart I could hear Brahms" 32nd symphony playing. Wind of changes was blowing through my hair that remained because of my wrong way of life. Running past the Russian club, I had time to notice the overfilled guests who were crawling in various directions after yet another "plentiful dinner party which continued till morning". I wanted to shout out to them: "What do you think you are doing! You must read the magazine - then you will forget about overeating. A piece of food would get stuck in your throat, if you knew how hungry the Russians are at the moment". But the wind of changes, blown in by some unknown settler, carried me further and further away. Various faces were whizzing past me, they were swearing to help me, on voluntary basis and in the name of my new venture and were handing me pieces of paper with their contact telephone numbers. The whirlwind was lifting me higher and higher under the domes of Orthodox churches, which were thrown around Brisbane, from which fathers were looking out with their friendly spiritual discussions. Unfortunately, other churches remained silent, maybe it was because they were censored by the magazine. The higher the whirlwind took me, the more I could see. I could see: the Russian Consul"s reaction to the Russian speaking Australian tourists; community workers scrubbing and cleaning up the hall after another plentiful dinner party; Garry, with his wolfish grin, greeting the lack-luster stars of the Russian cinema and theatre, just as the Russian students are eating away local sciences, mixing them with the usual Russian-Australian customs of Universal Universities; Russian wives standing up for their soviet independence against their stupid Australian husbands, who spent their pretty pennies on Russian brides of all kinds, including those with red hair and green eyes. And among all of that - there is just money, money and money. Circling among the whirlwind of money, I suddenly noticed that these were the rings of Saturn and I realized that it carried me too far. It was time to return back to the mortal earth. I was sweating from the horror of it all, the money began sticking to my body, pasting my mouth and - I woke up with my head under my pillow.
      I sighed with relief. Kookaburras were laughing outside my window. I looked at my reflection without any horror and gratefully recalled the beautiful flower with rowan-berry scent. My wife was asleep, as usual, and could not remind me that there were rissoles and potatoes in the fridge. I opened the fridge and it was empty - they did not deliver an elephant today. There was no point reaching for an apple, as I ate them all yesterday. So I had to make do with tea - my heart was slightly aching after my nightmare. The day turned out to be idle, bringing anxieties about tomorrow.
      So I turned on the television in order that the Russian News would push away my anxieties. As usual, the reality on the screen did not correspond to the letters from Moscow. The censure probably changed the objects of its attention. After the Russian program, followed the customary looking through the mail. As usual, there were just bills and advertisements. It was nearing 12.00 - time to have something to eat. We eat what we have, and there are no fancy ideas regarding proper diet. Idle day brings melancholy, it causes one to make various pointless telephone calls and conversations. Hands are itching to do something around the house, but that soon becomes boring. Evening creeps in unnoticed. By that time the wife cooks a big meal including all diets put together, sticking to which you are heading for new nightmares. The eyes slowly close in front of the television, and I crawl into bed "permanently". It would be so good, as it used to be in the past - to have some tea from an enamel mug, at the time of the morning dew, put on a padded jacked smelling of damp and sweat, grab a tool and knock it on bricks, stretching up just to have a short lunch break. Then, as the dark sets in, drag your feet, sleepily and slowly chewing on a sandwich of black bread and cheese and finally sink into slumber devoid of any nightmares and have a certainty in tomorrow. A certainty that there will be work and that you don"t need that much money.
      28.09.99 Ivan Denisovich Repeinick
      Having read that composition, I realized that so much happened since that time! There appeared red haired girls within my range, whose company pleased me. I was drawn by the wind of changes towards those old soviet times, when I was happy working for the good of defense at a Research and Development Institute, where people spent more time flirting than producing. That flirting was innocent, but my wife was on the alert and she quickly decided that I must be going through male menopause. OK, menopause, so be it. However, it allowed me to feel alive. And the girl, who fought so hard for spirituality, all of a sudden, grabbed all her kids and ran away from Australia, leaving a good husband too. She went to look for understanding in Moscow.
      Through Garry Volk, Sydney"s entrepreneur in Russian artists, I embarked on a deed to receive, within the auspices of the "Southern Cross" two lack-luster actors from the Moscow theatre to perform in Brisbane. I never liked the actress for her role in "Interdevochka" and I did not know her partner, at all. Playing a part is one thing, being a person is another. So, I was interested to see what types of people were they. Having had extensive experience in socializing with pop-music people, I did not expect anything different.
      The second issue of the show was how to gather public and the money to pay for receiving the actors. Brisbane, seen as a Russian speaking backwater, has always been sidetracked in the past. According to various suggestions, there are about thirty thousand Russian speaking people in Australia. 50% of those don"t know Russian properly any more and only about 10% of the remainder are interested in the Russian culture. Therefore, Sydney and Melbourne, having ten thousand Russian speaking nationalities each, can gather a thousand people to attend a show. Brisbane and its environs comprise about two thousand Russian speaking people, so the upper limit of possible audience would be around one hundred and fifty. That is exactly what it turned out to be - one hundred and forty people. Admittedly some of them were quite surprised that it was not a concert, but a play and with just two people acting. What did we pay our good money for? There wasn"t even any food. It has already become a custom to gather up to four hundred people to dinner parties. Fortunately most of the attendees came mainly because they were fans of that actress. For those who wanted a dinner party, there was a banquet in a restaurant after the play, where the Russian celebrities were also present.
      As it turned out, no animation could be detected behind the continuously smoking and silent movie and stage star. Her main purpose for visiting Brisbane was to spend nights at the Casino. Even after the false show, where the star came unhinged and her partner kept forgetting his lines, they could not wait for the banquet to finish so that, at last they could give themselves to the casino. Perhaps the constant pressing of buttons on pokies typifies the inner being of those actors. She monotonously nodded her head in response to the endless, sincere and friendly attention of her fans. She later complained to me how tired she was of that monotonous pestering. I could understand her in a way, as everyone tried to touch her, pat her on the head.
      A thoughtfully prepared trip to the Gold Coast also ended up at the Casino. Her partner, who constantly complained about financial hardships of an actor, gave me an idea to give him two hundred and fifty dollars for his fiftieth birthday. He was exceedingly happy to receive the gift with trembling hands.... and then wholeheartedly spent it at the Casino within thirty minutes. In the end, there remained a feeling of pity towards those people.
      That circulation with stars of the world fame at personal level had distracted me from continuing my notes. The editor began giving me hard looks as the sales of the magazine dropped considerably. So I had to get back to that word-weaving.
      From the Author
      The editorial panel informed me that it was time to continue these extended notes. On the one hand, those who criticized me earlier had nothing more to say, and their promises to stop buying the magazine because of the Diary of a Settler, turned out to be merely a bluff. They never bought any. On the other hand, as it turned out, some readers bought the magazine only because of the Diary and that was nice, but they had stopped. So I could understand the worries of the editorial panel, when they say that healthy criticism does not always win and to continue my bothersome saga. To be honest, it is hard to describe what follows in the previous manner, because that was a very difficult time for me in Australia. I sincerely hope that that was the last test on my endurance.
      Chapter 7
      .... and the airplane engines roared peacefully. They brought me some exotic food, i.e. Japanese. After home cooking, I mean Russian food, everything seemed tasteless and unacceptable. My mother"s assessment of that food was similar. She was flying for the first time in her seventy-six years of life and was very apprehensive. She was panic stricken at the sight of airplanes, even though she spent most of her life inventing various additions for the air objects. Her fear of flying started when the famous and biggest in the world airplane "Ilya Muromets" crashed in Moscow. Her father, first Director of the Moscow Aviation Institute was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the first flight of that airplane, with his family. They did not fly because of sheer luck. Otherwise you would not be reading these notes, but who knows, some other notes of some other settler may have plagued your eyes. There are no vacuums in this world; events like water fill all the empty spaces.
      The first trip abroad for a citizen from a developed socialist country, tarnished by perestroika and democracy, is always a disconcerting event. That is why I thought that it would be interesting to watch a person, who had been prohibited to ever go abroad, was now tasting the "forbidden fruit". However everything was being taken in its stride, my mother communicated with the airhostesses in Russian - there were no language barriers for her! Nor did the hotel in Norita impress her. The style of the kimono was met with instant criticism, but the presence of a toothbrush and toothpaste in the hotel was noted with satisfaction. To my astonishment smorgasbord was taken as customary for a soviet person, who suffered the war and hunger. The plate must be piled up high and everything on it must be cleaned up. I went through the same experience when I first arrived in Australia. I remember when I, and some friends of similar background, went to a Chinese-Vietnamese-Taiwanese-Asian restaurant. Having paid for one plate, I wanted to feed all my family.
      I still try to avoid any sort of buffets, because it is very difficult to hold back the inherent instinct of hunger. Once, on a holiday at Novotel, I was tempted by the Asian-Mediterranean buffet and tasted all my favorite foods. As a result, in bed at night, I had to grab my stomach with both hands, in order to turn from side to side. I only then realized how difficult it must be for pregnant women. Then, like a python, I was digesting that bulk on my body for a week.
      Second part of the trip was uneventful. On returning to Brisbane I did not feel any new breath of the wind of changes - everything was as I had left it. There was the same friendly smile (as it seemed then) of my ex-partner meeting me at the airport, the same day-to-day concerns which had accumulated over the three weeks, the same old bills, etc., etc. The only extra concerns now were my mother"s health. 50% of her food intake comprised tablets, which she brought with her from Moscow, and there was nothing similar in Australia. Dogma of experienced Australians was confirmed in that Private Medical Cover covers itself at best.
      My heart demanded wind of changes. Fortunately, my country house near Moscow was sold unexpectedly, though it was hardly surprising at that price. I think that my dacha"s neighbor in the country had successfully sold it to himself. And now the thirst for "wind of changes" had increased, with the taste of money, had began to torment me with greater force. So I made Solomon"s decision, Solomon decided not to visit Israel (Russian-Jewish joke), but I decided to take a trip around the world. Price of a round-the-world trip with six stopovers for my family was equivalent to what I received for my country house. That decision was postulate-based - if not now, then never. The decision was made, but to carry it out, having the red hammer and sickle passport, was not that simple. It was necessary to get visas to virtually all the countries. So, having mapped out the proposed trip, I began to fill out forms and forking out (I mean legitimate embassy fees here) money for visa applications. I must say that my planned budget did not anticipate such hefty expenses. For instance, to apply for an American visa for a family of four cost me $A750. That was the visa I started with, as I thought, after acquiring that one, there would be no obstacles. However I was quite wrong. In order to obtain an American visa, I had to state that I would not stay in that country of unlimited opportunities. I did just that by providing proof that I was financially and morally tied to Australia. To my surprise, that was accepted. Though three years prior to that, similar proof of having ties in Russia did not impress the Immigration Officer of the American Embassy in Moscow and I was refused visa, which, in the end, brought me to Australia. However, similar proof created adverse reaction in the Canadian Embassy and I was a refused visa, because I did not state that I intended to return to my Motherland, i.e. Russia. Two countries and two different views. And I so wanted to visit my relatives in Hamilton, outside Toronto, who managed to flee from the red terror, during the Second World War, from Estonia. Niagara Falls were luring me by their grandeur as well. So the mapped out trip kept changing. That was a shame, because I later found out, while in the US, that an American visa would have allowed us into Canada. They really dislike our folk in the world! The Italian visa was stamped with great caution and fear - they made it clear that there was no way that we should try to cross the opened borders of the EEC. Thanks to the visa obstacles, the newly mapped trip looked like this: Los Angeles - Orlando - Rome - Budapest - Istanbul - Malaysia.
       The first two cities allowed us to visit Disneyland and Disneyworld as well as the hope of visiting some friends. Rome provided an opportunity to visit the capital of the world and to visit another country without a visa - the Vatican. (Maybe it is surprise for readers, but having Russian passport you have to get visas almost for every country.)
      Back in the socialist time, I visited Budapest, the jewel of the communist world, so feeling of nostalgia as well as a visa free entry pushed me into the past. Other ex-socialist countries had already stopped free entry to the Russians. It is a well-known fact, that you should never go back to places, where you had a good time. I wanted to visit Istanbul because it is a city of contrasts, then I wanted to visit Antalia, which used to be a German resort, but now was a popular holiday place for soviet people. And besides, Russians do not need a visa to visit Turkey. I also had plans to use a cheap charter flihgt to Moscow, in order to continue my "starting business" with Gregory. My wife"s sister could visit Antalia at the same time. There were no visa requirements for Malaysia and it seemed the best means of time adjustment before returning to Australia.
      Thus the route was mapped, tickets paid for, hotels booked, except the hotel "Palace" in Istanbul. Everything was ready for the trip around the world. My mother had her supply of pills, my ex-partner had his rights to access the money, though my heart missed a beat at the thought, maybe it wasn"t strong enough - what a shame. We set off for the Coolloongatta airport in the early Gold Coast morning. First surprise was not slow in coming. American Airlines had deferred their flight until evening. We had a choice - either to go back and wait until evening, or to proceed anyway. The second option was preferred, as we then had the opportunity to glance at Sydney and visit some settler-friends, who recently moved there from the Gold Coast.
      Sydney greeted us with dust and humidity. I would not call it a dirty city, but it is very stretched out and dusty. Unfortunately, the male half of the family was at work, and we spent the day listening to the other half"s complaints against the Australian Government, the banks, various officers and just persons who prevent others from enjoying all the wonders of carefree Australian life, in peace. Being Bulgarian, she immediately recollected, for comparison, the beautiful old times in socialist Bulgaria. Chatting away and the slow taxi service in Sydney almost caused us to be late at the airport, which was teeming, like an anthill, because of the delayed flights.
      Flight over the ocean was a little alarming. In contrast with the Soviet or the Japanese pilots, American pilots have little respect for their passengers; they make sharp turns and keep making passengers fasten their seat belts all the time. As the Soviet propaganda used to tell us, all the American pilots came from military fighter planes. But in any case, it was very interesting to fly back in time. It sounds great - we left in the evening and arrived yesterday morning. It was here, in Los Angeles that the long awaited wind of changes began to blow. We were met by two sleepy black frontier officers at the passport control. One was attending to US citizens, the other to foreigners. There were more foreigners, and after a minute there were even more still. Four more airplanes landed, but the number of passport control officers did not increase. The queue stretched out for an hour and a half. Russian service immediately came to mind. There was one difference - everything was clean and modern and there were as many booths as in Australia, except that the booths were empty.
      One other interesting peculiarity attracted our attention. We had an impression, from a variety of sources, that Americans hated Mexicans and did not call them anything but "dirty monkeys". However all the notices in Los Angeles start in the Spanish language, than in English and Japanese languages. In fact, most service personnel were Mexican and some of them had little knowledge of English, but they could not be classed by their nickname, as they seemed to be pleasant, well dressed persons who were hard-working and efficient.
      Second, but no less interesting, peculiarity was payment of bills. Total sum of a bill includes local tax and 15 - 20% tips, which seem to be obligatory. My naïve question: "How much gratuity would you like?" was met with a not so naïve a response: "Where are you from?" and, having determined that we were from Russia, he said: "Nothing". That was at a restaurant, but in shops or in fast food establishments, tips are added without your consent. As a result the price of goods and services is 25 - 30% higher than advertised on the menu or in the shops. You are reminded about tips, in three languages, even in public transport, which is supposed to be free of charge in Los Angeles. Los Angeles appeared to be quite a shabby city. Although there was no obvious dirt in the streets, the hotels, shops and transport required refurbishment. Only the famous Los Angeles jail adorned the city like a huge ornament with its shining and fresh looking barbed wire decorating the top of clean walls. It is probably because prisoners are treated with great sensitivity in America.
      The famous Hollywood street of the film stars left little impression. It was dusty, unkempt and deserted. It looked as though all the film stars were away on film sets or at festivals. Avenue of the Film Stars looked much better on second viewing on video. The original Hard Rock Café is not as good as the one on the Gold Coast, which is cleaner and bigger. There is not much to say about the food.
      Food requires special attention. America, as opposed to Australia is not devoid of smells or tastes in their vegetables. It seems that vegetables and fruit are organically produced - they are aromatic and tasty. I consumed a lost sense of spring with great pleasure. Oh, what it was to feel the forgotten taste of aromatic strawberries! Sometimes, though it happens that food contains unachievable substances and that deprives it of taste or appeal. If, say, you order macaroni cheese, you could some sections inside which are still frozen - that makes you wonder when that meal was prepared. Numerous masters of pen and word continually commented on American coffee - however you have to try it to believe it! It is difficult to understand how is it possible to ruin a product, whose raw material is so good. It is quite common in America to get your coffee cold and it has a strange taste. Having learnt from bitter experience, I went to an Italian restaurant and carefully asked about a cappuccino. I was assured that the coffee will be prepared from the best crop and to the best traditional family recipe. I ended up with a luke warm rubbish and informed the waiter of that. He was so upset, that he didn"t even come back for the necessary tip. I began to believe that the soviet acorn coffee with condensed milk in "the canteen No. 32" was better, than American coffee in a five-star restaurant. The expression "there"s no accounting for taste" could not possibly apply here.
      The most interesting thing was that I could even argue in local parlance. I had a strange experience with my strained English language. In Australia, I was somehow understood, but I found it difficult to understand Australians. In America indeed I clearly began to understand everything that was said, and they had no problem understanding me too. When I was booking an excursion around Los Angeles, a tourist agent was discussing the arrangements with a colleague on the telephone. Her colleague expressed concern about a Russian family being on an English speaking bus tour. The agent assured her colleague that the subject under question was before her and she had no problem understanding him and that she felt it was mutual. I gained confidence in my language ability and began to joke and even allowed myself to be a little rude.
      What of the famous Disneyland and Universal Studios? What about their condition? There seems to be more attention devoted to the first, but still, it is already noticeable that it is not as good as that in France, though it was just as heavily populated and the queues are not shorter. Half the attractions in the famous studios were inoperative and the only thing that pulled them through was the season"s novelty, the Jurassic Park.
      It seems that a similar tour on television would be just as attractive as the real one. Especially that the heat, which was normal for that time of year, was difficult to bear. The only salvation was fine water sprays that were directed at the people in the queue. Our children also sensed progress in their English language and actively participated in any attractions which invited volunteers. In the end, our son attracted attention by being Russian, wearing a Californian T-shirt and an Australian cap .... and got caught. He was assigned to sound the scream of fright when the star of the film sees the abominable snowman. The scream was supposed to come when on a red light signal. The red light failed to appear and that caused the "multinational" volunteer to get upset. The coordinator apologized and graciously offered him another chance. The volunteer concentrated on watching the light and did not notice how a live abominable snowman had crept up to him from behind. But they know very little of a soviet child in America, for whom, the appearance of the real horror, the reaction was to get aggressive rather than produce a real scream of horror. Audiences" expectations were a little let down, but my home video recording had an additional amusing event. Regardless of any other impressions, what impressed me was the well-developed system of money extraction in those famous parks. Americans have to be congratulated where the credit is due!
      While the children were devouring the Disneyland, my wife and I went to visit some shops at her insistence. I would not say that shops there were richer. They resembled Australian markets more. My better half"s dissatisfaction evoked a desire to visit Santa Monica, where, they said, shops were better. As it turned out, they were no worse than at the Pacific Fair. But I did not delve into that side of things very much and took the children to the famous beach, instead. How broad it was! We burnt our feet before we got to the water. Neither the sand nor the water seemed exceptionally clean, though it was quite crowded. Throughout that great space, a cultural-chewing centre could be seen from a distance. At closer range, it was in fact, a mixture of market booths selling cheap fast food, but at high prices. The paved area was cracked and had puddles of water seeping from surrounding refrigerators. As usual, in order to buy some ice cream, we had to queue up. There was some vague resemblance with Sotchi (popular holidays town for Soviet people) during developed socialism.
      Thus, having consumed Disneyland, Los Angeles and its surrounding attractions, we flew to Orlando by local airline after seven days. As opposed to Australian airlines, there were no free drinks, everything was offered for money, even for watching a film there were little liquid crystal screens that could be purchased for individual viewing.
      Disneyworld in Orlando impresses by its magnitude and it fully encompasses Disneyland from Los Angeles. A week was not enough to see all the good attractions. So we rushed in to see other parks and water attractions, which we could not consume in full, as during storms, the administration closed access to water. It turned out that there were a lot of storms there. Both in Disneyland and the same named World impress with their water-salute performances, during which, fragments of films and special effects are projected onto water-walls created by the fountains. Interior of the widely advertised restaurant "Hollywood Planet" looked like a usual money wringing "canteen". There was an exhibition of film stars" handprints outside the restaurant. My daughter suddenly discovered that Stallone"s hand was not much bigger than her own. (That does not mean that she has a large hand).
      Thus, in an effort to avoid temptations, which lead to additional spending, time was passing. Kennedy Space Station was very impressive. Soviet propaganda and secretive space research created a view that those places were inaccessible. However, the Space Station zone was not security guarded, but for the safety of unwelcome visitors, it was surrounded by forests and canals, which were infested with over sixty species of dangerous wildlife, including alligators which lazily crawled around the road. Launching pads as well as shuttles may be visited and even photographed. The Moon Museum pointed out that Americans visited the Moon about fifteen times and brought back its soil samples long before the Soviet experiment with Lunokhod. They had Lunokhods as well, by the way.
      Healthy large Negresses - offspring"s of past slaves, serviced our hotel room. As opposed to the Mexicans, they went about their chores like slaves, i.e. unwillingly and unsatisfactorily. Maybe that is why there are still some racist attitudes in southern states of America. The Jacuzzi next to the pool was very heavily chlorinated. After yet another effort to enjoy the water park, which was interrupted by a storm, left us feeling very cold and we decided to warm up in the bubbling bath. After about five minutes, I was not sure whether I had my swimmers on or not. Or maybe, that half-transparent piece of cloth was actually my pants.
      Everything comes to an end sometime and the time came for us to say good bye to America. The international flight to Europe was through Chicago. A short stopover and long distance from the city precluded us from visiting it. As opposed to arrival, there was no visa control on departure. We reinforced our view on how easy it would be for a defector to lose oneself in the country of unlimited opportunities and extremes. Speaking of extremes, I must say that with all my affection to women, there were none that caughh my eye. American people are perceived as one and all. That is such a pity. I am so tired of facelessness!
      There was some male American celebrity sitting next to us on our flight, to whom the steward constantly paid particular attention. It was good that we sat next to him, because we were given part of that attention. In the end that noble persona was presented with a bottle of expensive French wine, but since he did not drink, the bottle ended up in our bag.
      Frankfurt greeted us with a crowd of people, among which we could hear Russian speech. The famous Duty Free shops surprised us with their prices. However the regulations allowed us to return part of the money. In order to achieve that, we needed to get a signature from the customs control officer, who was already in the passport control zone. That incited us to make use of the shops. The frontier officer, however, let us go through the customs office, on our word, so as to allow us the opportunity to get the prescribed 10% back. We could have easily sneaked through into Germany and lost ourselves in Germany over those 10%. However we had enough fortitude to put up with quite a long pause at the airport, prior to heading off to the capital of the world - Rome. Even though we moved quite briskly, the wind of changes did not blow over our wondering faces. But hopes were springing eternally that there were still many stopovers ahead.
      In-Between Chapters 7 and 8
      The chapter before last mentioned that there were tragic events which prevented me from writing. Now that the pain has subsided, I can look at it philosophically. When I returned from the world trip, I was faced with a large number of bills and the fact that most of the money left in the care of my ex-partner, had disappeared somewhere. He explained to me that if he had not used that money, then everything would have "crashed." There he was, a "great savior" of the business. It was just difficult to understand what business? It was not in vain that I had an inkling in my heart, prior to giving the rights to manage accounts to that "famous architect and constructor". You might recall my description of such "millionaires" at the beginning of my notes. But I never thought that I could be caught by such a rogue, who was capable of anything, even blackmail, which was built on promises to extend my visa.
      I felt like a participant in the game of "thimbles" at a railway station. The train is about to take off, the money is in the hands of cheats and they are still trying to swing you around and push you into the departing train. I must pay a tribute to my mother, who, when she first laid eyes on my ex-partner, immediately said: "Why do you always associate yourself with rogues". When I was young, I used to retort by saying: "don"t croak" and in response I would hear: "I am not croaking - I just have more experience in life". Of course she was right. And in general, my mother came to life, lifted her spirits, acquired a lot of friends and became a very popular person in her pensioner circles. There were visitors, gatherings, invitations, presents and discussions. That was nice to observe, but I had that persistent vision that she would die twelve months after coming to Australia. Days went by, her guest visa was coming to an end. It was time to return to the Motherland, stay there for the three summer months, and then back to Australia for another year. My heart was leaden, when I took her to the airport , even though I joked and remained unperturbed. Inevitability was pressing with its black eternity. So, when I found out that she died the day after she returned to Moscow, I was prepared for that, but I still couldn"t believe it all day, until I spoke with my brother. Prior to that, she managed to express her opinion and conclude that she came back to a "wreck" and not the Motherland. It is precisely at times like that when the real truth manifests itself and there is no point in submitting to persuasions of various spiritual or soulful individuals, who fight for the centre of culture and the rebirth of Russia. It took me two weeks to combat my depression and to finally realize the making of our world and the Universe. It is good to be a believer, it is worse to be knowledgeable.
      Having loaded a burden of inevitability on my back, I started to pretend that there was something in this world that depended on me and I started to resolve the matter confirming my visa. Laws changed so much, that there was no longer any ways of applying for a suitable visa to Australia. Quite unexpectedly, Fiji opened its gates to the hammer and sickle passport. A search for new opportunities for residence, business and visa application to Australia from a third country gave me a push to visit Fiji. Separation from day to day worries and isolation finally confirmed my convictions about the World, God and Man. (This theme is developed in the second part of the book.)
      Fiji is yet another story of the wind of changes, but I don"t really want to write under that slogan any more when I know that that wind does not exist. Instead there is only something like a frozen picture of our world from beginning to the end, which hangs on "the wall of residents of another higher world". And how many other worlds are there? Details of that aspect are described in part two of this book.
      While I was experiencing the Fiji story in our picture of the world, the magazine was coming to its natural end. All of the participants had scattered away, the Editor-in-Chief started divorce proceedings, the promised financing for the magazine never came through and mutual obligations with the Russian club were coming to an end. But the totally unsuspecting readers continued to buy and criticize the magazine. I copped my share of it as well. As though nothing happened, the "Wind of Changes" began with my responses to critics and well wishes in the last issue of the magazine.
      From the Author
      My last publication received an indignant comment from one of the worldly readers. By worldly, I mean that she visited America or Italy, I do not remember exactly, because I was struck by a qualified explanation regarding coffee. As I am now aware, it should be served luke warm. Maybe I should admit my mistake, if I am not correct, but it was not the Italian coffee that was cold and tasteless. I remember that in one of Jules Verne"s novels there was almost an entire chapter dedicated on how to prepare coffee. It is from that source that I found out, if boiling water is poured over coffee, it could be ruined. The optimal water temperature should be 85 degrees centigrade and when coffee is added to the water, then the combination of coffee and water comes to boil. I did not test that, but I believe it.
      I also received some harsh criticism from one comrade: "It"s become a bit bitter, maybe your writing is no longer from the heart but by request". There was a shade of truth in that, indeed, since my life became more bitter and less emotional. That criticism was probably quite fair, because my wife started to enjoy my writing and prior to that she was embarrassed for me. There is one pleasant aspect, women keep writing, saying there is not enough asking for more and more (of course, I mean to continue and continue and continue writing).
      Chapter 8
       .... yet another airport, but this time it"s Italian. Be as it will, but all airports look similar, that one was different in that it had extra long passages where I rushed to try and find a famous company AVIS in order to rent a car. Their office was still closed, to my surprise and we had to wait for a couple of hours. It was so nice to feel superior in the English language when conversing with workers of an Italian office. However that uplifting feeling was thoroughly ruined in the few hours that followed. It all began when I forgot how to change gears manually and fitted on the other side as well. So, the first problem of driving out of the airport I accomplished with difficulty. The whole family attempted the second problem of finding our way to Rome, using a map, and anybody could say that we were an Italian family. Historians are liars - not all roads lead to Rome at all. Before we managed to find the correct route, we had to go around the circle road a few times and stop at a petrol station to buy a more detailed map. It is worth noting that the American dollar is very popular there. As I was coming to grips with the manual transmission on the European side, the car"s speed was increasing and was already reading 100 km/hr. I did not see any speed signs but other cars were overtaking me with great ease. That continued even when our car reached a speed of 120 km/hr.
      At last we managed to get through to Rome. It has been a long time since I drove on such intertwined and rough roads. Small cars were parked in every available space and it was impossible to stop in order to sort out the map. We were too tired to pay much attention to what was happening around us, but we felt somehow uncomfortable and gloomy. The tourist agency in Australia promised us a four-star hotel near the centre. It was a bit expensive, but it was central, we thought. With great difficulty we managed to find the alley, with no room for two cars, where the front entrance of our hotel was. They let us unload quickly and immediately took our car to a parking lot, which, according to the hotel administrator was about 50 meters away in a garage, probably belonging to his partner.
      The room was equipped with all the facilities, but was reminiscent of the style of soviet hotels - very cramped and the walls were covered with familiar enamel paint of an indefinite color with protruding rough splashes of plaster underneath. The Australian gyprock spoilt our eyes. Bathroom plumbing also reminded us of the Motherland. There"s nothing one can do. Europe is Europe. Though that could not be said of Paris or Cannes. After such a turbulent drive, we want to eat and drink, of course. But that was not such a simple task. We had to walk around quite a large block in order to find some eating point, it was a little underground restaurant with tables in the street. We ordered pizza, of course, some dry wine and cappuccino. What else would one order in Italy? We were so delighted to partake of the "dear to heart" table wine - there is no such wine in Australia. Even wines that are called Italian in Australia have these specific Australian aftertaste. I became convinced that Europe has the best white wines and France and Australia have the best reds, I am certain. But as they say, there is no accounting for taste. The same thing could be said of the pizza - the crust seemed much better. Maybe they used natural yeast and the stove was probably a proper one. It did not seem to matter what they topped it with. As opposed to the American, the coffee was hot and not as frothy. The Australian white froth is more attractive, but in Italy, I think it is authentic.
      After a light supper and tiring trip, there was no energy to look around. Furthermore, the streets were not very brightly lit and seemed gloomy. We decided to dedicate 2 days to Italy; one for Rome and one for the Vatican. The best thing we could think of was to book two excursions, one around the city and the other to the Vatican. We chose a guided tour in the English language, as there was no Russian available. Tourists from all over the city were gathered into one spot and then were distributed into buses according to their language. The Italian guide was not too bad - he tried to speak slowly and clearly. Our bus comprised some English, Americans and even Australians. Being a tourist was a nice feeling, they take you, like a sheep along the mapped out route and on the way you are always confronted by vendors of souvenirs, postcards and books. It is worth noting that there is a lot of guff on information in the Russian language. That was justified, as Russian groups were constantly fleeting past us, and as I managed to find out from one pretty girl, all tours are planned and serviced from Russia. The only thing, she complained, was that accommodation conditions were bad.
      From all the sights of that cramped tour, I was most impressed by the Roman Coliseum. Although it was built in the year 80 AD, it seems that there is no similar construction anywhere to date. The stadium accommodates 50 thousand, it has grand construction underneath the arena, where wild animals were kept and delivered immediately to the surface with the help of lifting mechanisms operating in accordance with universal laws (e.g. Archimides). Nowadays people spend millions on equipment, power and workers in order to build an elementary moving operation - and whatever for? Nature and knowledge of prehistoric times have already given us everything. That arena was then quickly re-equipped completely by filling it up with water and using galleys, for conducting sea battles. To protect the audience from the sun, they used to install a cover of 50 meters high and 200 meters in diameter above the stadium. There I had a thought - were there any bloody battles, I began to think that everything that happened in those days, was a well designed show. It might have been our bloodthirsty century that painted source of our civilization red, in order to justify itself. One way or another, the wind of changes was probably already swaying someone since time immemorial and brought him to the modern reality. Was it creative? And who needs that wind of changes, anyway?
      In-Between Chapters 8 and 9
      Thus both the "Vedomosti" and the "Southern Cross" ended their glorious existence. There were indignant calls, there were letters with subscriptions for the next year, but nobody picked up the magazine. Maybe there are not so many "smart Alecs" such as we were. But we promised a book and so all efforts concentrated on keeping the promise. As you will have guessed, this part of the book is coming to its chronological end. That is when the world trip comes to an end and the "In-Between Chapters" which started at the end of that voyage, come to the moment of closing the magazine.
      Because the Fiji and the post Fiji life already lacked the wind of changes, then everything that happened next could be attributed to imagination, delirium, truth and half-truth, mystique, etc. You could either believe it or not, but everything that seems true - is actually fiction, but what seems extraordinary - is actually true. The second part of the book will emphasize attitudes to the events, and not the events. Because we cannot influence events, but the way that we view them - is in our hands. There, in Italy, I was still thinking about the wind of changes.
      Chapter 9
      .... it was very interesting to view traces of the history that I studied at school and from books with great enthusiasm. Rome - Barbarians - Extinction of the Empire - Beginning of Christianity. Statues of Emperors, ruined columns, eight meters long cultural layer which covered bits of history - all of that was heading towards a conclusion that any events are inevitable. That mood was overshadowed by a visit to the Vatican. Though it should really be the other way round: spirituality will outweigh material matter. Queues, souvenirs, money, shabby buildings and their interior made me think that it was the same as Disneyland, just more expensive and worse. I have no recollections, except those of big crowds and humidity. No, I tell a lie, I do remember the first exhibit, which was an early marble sculpture of a man - it was just like a live person turned into stone. The children noted that too. Every vein and wrinkle of the body were visible. I remember the last exhibit also. That was the ceiling fresco by Michelangelo in the Sixteenth Chapel. Of course, I could remember everything when I look at the great number of photographs, but that is secondary memory. I would also like to point out that a visit to Hermitage did not leave many memories, either. I was glad that the Louver was closed when I was in Paris.
      Heavy headed from intensive excursions, we decided to freshen up by taking a stroll around the evening streets of Rome. As it turned out, we didn"t even need a bus, as everything was handy - the Coliseum and the church ruins. As we were approaching the Roman circus, the smell of a public toilet became stronger. There is a puzzle for you - is that the smell of past centuries or rudeness of modern times. Endless inscriptions on the walls confirmed the latter, e.g.: "Cyril was here, 1963". How did he manage to make that mark in 1963 in the times of the iron curtain, is a real puzzle. I could walk among the ruins forever, but we were leaving for Florence the next day.
      Traffic along the freeway created an illusion again, that my speed was no more than 40 km/hr, though the speedometer pointed to 120. All speedways in Italy are tolled. When you enter it, you get a ticket and when you leave it then you pay. It costs about twenty-five dollars per 200 km. Florence presented itself as a clean little city. The hotel was better and cheaper than in Rome and was outstanding for its antique furniture. The city centre was impressive with its old historical monuments, churches, sculptures, squares - it all seemed familiar and, all of a sudden, gathered together in the same spot. Apollo, as though he just stepped down from shopping centre in Surfers Paradise, graves of Michelangelo, Leonard de Vinci, mathematician Fourie, and composer Puccini. So many famous names and they were all in one spot. Eyes were grasping the history.
      Having popped in for a quick breakfast at the famous Macdonald"s, we noticed a couple sitting next to us. I commented aloud: "They are speaking in a strange language - it does not sound like English nor German", to which I received an immediate response in perfect Russian: "I am from Leningrad and my husband is Dutch". It seems that our brides pop up everywhere! We continued our fascinating excursion together, then dined altogether at a little restaurant in the mountains. It was there, that I found that that the speed limit on Italian roads is 130 km/hr. The police only start catching offenders at 160 km/hr. that is why everybody go at such a speed. Now, I was heading towards Sienna at the same speed as all the others. A wonderful city! Just like a picture.
      We were discouraged to go to Venice, because it was only beautiful on postcards, but in reality was dirty and smelly. So we decided not to spoil our impressions and .... you couldn"t be in Italy without seeing the leaning tower of Pizza. So we ended up in the town of Pizza. As we were approaching the town, we were greeted by prostitutes, all lined up along the road. We were surprised to see that the tower was really quite small and hasn"t fallen over yet! Having registered the event on a photograph, we moved back towards Rome. The same prostitutes were seeing us off.
      Our last day in Rome was dedicated to footwear, which is priced at around US$35 there, as compared with about A$120 in Australia. However we did not manage to find anything to fit a Soviet-Australian foot. So we just flew away shoeless to the ex-jewel of the socialist world, Budapest.
      I was astonished to find the clean, smelling of (inaccessible in USSR) deodorants city of socialist Hungary has become a dusty, collapsing capital of the new capitalist world. During the perestroika, all Russian language signs were taken off. However, now they were beginning to appear again. Western Europe does not understand how useful that country could be. Russia knew that because it loved Hungarian tomatoes, gherkins and Ikaris buses and still desires that nostalgic produce. Speaking of nostalgia, I really enjoyed Hungarian wine, Tokai and .... surprisingly bought Italian shoes there for US$15, which fitted the soviet person"s foot very well. I still remember that Hungarian footwear used to sell very well during sales. Where did it all disappear to? It was easy to bring everything to ruin, but to restore....
      All historical places of interest in Budapest are filled with suspicious looking persons. There are Ostap Benders (a rogue dealer from Russian literature) selling tickets to raise funds for restoration of historical monuments. Currency exchange booths are surrounded by black marketers. Sacred tombstones are filled with cheats in "thimble" games. If unaccompanied, you are stopped by young girls trying to strike a conversation in poor English language. Most of these girls are Russian. I must have really changed in the two years of living in Australia, if I am no longer taken for a Russian. Although, they didn"t always take me for a Russian in the Soviet, either.
      A little tired and disappointed, having no hope for any wind of changes, we made our way towards the city of extremes, Istanbul, which greeted us with stench and dust. After their incubation period on the Gold Coast, our children decided that it was not a good choice for our trip. The famous hotel "Palace" turned out to be a dirty and dilapidated building. Plumbing in the bathroom leaked, and I was absolutely unimpressed that Turkish Prime Minister once stayed in the room where I was. It cost us all of US$400 for half a day"s stay. That is why, I immediately decided to shorten that visit and to go to the resort city of Antalia. But, having respect for history, we decided to visit the ancient centre of Istanbul, prior to leaving. So, what did we see? Nothing at all. The entire centre was an endless market, where dirty looking people sell anything and everything, they grab you by the arm and clothing, call you up in various languages, so long as you would buy something from them. But there was nothing to buy there at all. Prices used to be a lot lower in the past. Now the prices were raised to world level, but the quality of goods was very low. Visit to the central palace did not impress with the eastern splendor. Everybody walked around looking dusty and scruffy, some were accompanied by children who were dirty and begging. Our children were appalled more than we were and observed that strange world with fright, though it was not long since they came from a world which was not too dissimilar. It does not take long to get used to good life, but we don"t appreciate it enough.
      We managed to shorten our visit to the historical centre and flew over to a heavenly resort where we were greeted by the never-ending sound of cicadas. Morning of the next day brought a big surprise for the children. They ran in and informed us with fright, that everybody there spoke Russian. Thus, resorts in the Caucasus, which were closed to Russians, were now happily replaced by the Turkish coast of the Mediterranean, which looks to be clear and clean, but is filled with all sorts of waste that you can see if you dive under water. Having found ourselves among our own people, we remembered all the traditions of the soviet era. These were: drinks on the beach at night, smuggling forbidden alcohol into the territory of the resort, overeating in the plentiful buffet style canteen and silly evening games under the leadership of practical jokers.
      However there are other riches in the land of Anatoly, besides Russian holidaymakers, inherited by Turkey from Rome. There are traces of Roman culture strewn all around inaccessible corners of that part of the country. Underwater cities, circuses and castles which are all joined by a road constructed by German entrepreneurs dealing in tourism. Parts where there are no roads, are equipped with galleys strolling around the sea, having replaced oarsmen with internal combustion engines. Sunk houses sway through the clear greenish water, proving yet again who the real master of the world is.
      Speaking of the city of the world - it is where a Russian Orthodox Priest, Nikolai known as St. Nicholas, built a church and maintained parish. He is also known as the first and real Santa Claus, who used to give children a little money for Christmas. It is extraordinary to just stand there and hold on to the sources of history, which has now become an everyday symbolism.
      Excursions, conversations with Moscow, meeting with Turkish friends had again begun to create the vision of wind of changes. That"s where I met a film director, Yura Kara, who is known for his films such as "Thieves within the Law", "The War was Yesterday", "A Night with Stalin", "Master and Margarita". Our illegal alcohol consumption together in the moonlight gave us an idea to make a film together. It all began with the "marmalade" joke: Yura promised to send me a script and I undertook to find the money.
      Two weeks among dear to heart environment went by very quickly, like a spark, but it was time to travel to Malaysia in order to adapt to the time difference prior to returning to Australia.
      In-Between Chapters 9 and 10
      The reader might be alerted by my attitude to the events, which suddenly appeared out of nowhere, such as extensive discussions on one world or another. Please do not be frightened, I do not intend to draw you into some kind of sect. It is just that the scientific and religious worlds made a step towards each other and a modern perception of the World and the Universe, based on both scientific and historical achievements formed inside my perverted brain. Meanwhile everybody was welcoming the new millenium and awaited the end of the world.
      The initial contact with Yura began to show unbelievable shades of development. While I was trying to drag out of him all the necessary papers for securing finance for making a film, our local TV businessmen, who were busy selling arms to neighboring countries through the Russian Military Government Company "Rosvooruzheniye", became interested, for some reason, in their direct business, i.e. how to get soviet animated films for distribution in Australia. All efforts to get any information from the "Soyuzmultfilm" (animation producing company) came across a stumbling block, which is the usual way for soviets to conduct business. The director was away, and nobody could say anything meaningful, nor make any decisions or provide any help. In the end someone took pity and revealed that Oleg Vidov (a famous movie actor during the soviet era, also known for a Hollywood made film "Red Heat") bought all the rights on soviet animated films. He married an American and was living there now. I knew about that, but was hoping that the standard "what if" might do the trick and we could get our hands on the films. But that didn"t work because Russian businessmen learnt how to respect rights.
      So I had to telephone the US and listen to the usual way that Russian migrants talk in America: "So, how"s it going old man? Here, everything is as usual, busy, busy; sorry old man but I"ve got a pile of producers here. Thus I couldn"t get anything out of him. But he didn"t know who he was dealing with, I telephoned again and again and once his wife told me that he was not in business at all, but was working for the post office delivering mail. Then it became clear to me why such talk is specific to America - so as not to show one"s lost importance. There"s the country of opportunities for you, where ex-stars simply get lost. After that confession, Oleg no longer puffed his cheeks, but talked to me sincerely and invited to visit him. Then he complained that his wife was taking care of everything and did not let him near the business. But his wife told me that the rights to the soviet animated films were sold to the Australian studios "Warner Brothers" and have been shelved, so as not to be in the way of the famous "Bunny" on Australian screens. That is the tragic fate of an actor and animated films from our childhood.
      Our other celebrity Yura continued to supercharge the importance of the prospective film - managed to secure Sharon Stone for the main part, to include John Daly, a film director who was well-known for his film "Terminator" and even sent me the script and a number of business papers. After a lot of hard work we managed to get finance guaranteed by the Russian Bank, but not for long. Arrival of the famous August, when not only Russian citizens were robbed of their savings, but also a lot of businessmen from abroad who risked in believing that the Russian economy would rise again. Of course after that, the Russian guarantee wasn"t worth the paper it was written on. Yura immediately switched over to a project to make a film in cosmos, on the floor of the collapsing Mir Station and dragged John into that. He not only dragged him in, but he also paid money to "Energy" corporation up front. Having had experience of working with "Rosvoorouzheniye", I tried to warn him, but that went down like a lead balloon. You probably already know how it all ended. They took the money, trained actors and the operator, but were not allowed to go into cosmos. They were told that it was sufficient to just have had the training, but as far as the film goes - we could make it without you - just give us the camera and tell us which button to press. That was the inglorious end to the money and the film, which added another failure to John"s service record.
      That is when Yura returned to our film, except that there was no money and Hollywood stars would not be shooting without that. That is when we had an idea to give the main part to Inga Drozdova, a "Playboy" magazine star from Riga, who, as though by chance, resided on the Gold Coast. Surrounded by show business mysteries, she couldn"t understand how I managed to get her telephone number, even though I simply looked it up in the telephone book. It was important that somebody must have given it to me! After a short conversation, the "sex symbol" soon realized that there was no point in "keeping up appearances" with me and I ended up talking to a normal conversationalist, who was capable of logical reasoning as only girls from the socialist world could be. Tied up by contracts, she could not make her own decision regarding the film, but we had long and pleasant conversations on various topics, except professional, which were not frequent but kept our brains and tongues engaged for hours. It is a pity that her life took her to America and I lost a good conversationalist and she - a person with whom she could discuss anything. That does not fit into the stereotype of a "sex symbol" at all. Though nothing in this world happens in vain - we will wait and see.
      Chapter 10
      The Last Chapter of Part I and the Shortest
      .... more airports, customs, passport officers. We had enough and wanted to go home to Australia. Wouldn"t even dream of any winds of changes, I just wanted rest. Malaysia turned out to be dirty-ish smelling country surrounded by sea which is just as dirty. Nothing attracted the tired eye any more, not even monkeys hanging from the power lines. However, desire to see clean sea drove us thirty kilometres away from the shore to coral islands. That allowed us to see how humans polluted nature and how fragile it was.
      Days passed by slowly until we returned to the Coolloongatta airport, which no longer evoked any feeling for the wind of changes.
      End of Part I, Brisbane 2000

  • Комментарии: 3, последний от 22/09/2008.
  • © Copyright Свиридов Михаил Юрьевич (time2000@hotbox.ru)
  • Обновлено: 22/09/2008. 218k. Статистика.
  • Повесть: Перевод
  • Оценка: 4.81*5  Ваша оценка:

    Связаться с программистом сайта.