Scary, huh? Seems like just a few days ago that I was writing about my hopes and fears for my time here. Seems like last night that I was writing about the one month anniversary of my arrival here.
At 4:30 in the morning next Friday, (which will be at about 8:30 PM next Thursday for my New Yorkers) I will meet for the last time (this summer, at least!) at the statue of young Vladimir Lenin outside Kazanskii Gosudartskii Universitet. We will make our way first to the Kazan Airport, then to Moscow, then to DC. I will say goodbye to my new friends, with whom I have shared an unforgettable experience, in a terminal somewhere in that airport before boarding a plane for NYC. If these last few weeks have at times felt surreal, nothing can match the surreality of typing those last few sentences.
Anyways. I’ll wax poetic when I’m actually done here – I’ve got plenty of stuff to fill my plate between now and next Friday: school every day, FC Rubin Kazan vs. FC Tom (Tomsk – a Siberian town), a final banquet, lots of rides on the Kazan Metro, Tramvae No. 19, and buses 63, 83, and maybe even 30, and just ordinary moments with friends, both Russian and American. I have a bunch more meals with my favorite chef of Tatar and Russian cuisine and a bunch more man-conversations with my adopted older brother. I’ve got more heat and smog to deal with, too.
Which brings me to actual updates!
It’s still (shocker!) really hot here. And, to make things even better (note: sarcasm), forest fires have appeared all over this nation, and Kazan is not excluded from the fun. What appears to be rainclouds causing an overcast day is actually a huge cloud of smoke/smog which technically (key word: technically) brings the temperature down a few degrees, but really does make the weather worse. Sometimes breathing is more difficult, and for some reason (perhaps not correlated at all), humidity has risen dramatically in the last few days. Not fun.
But there have been good things this week, too! A few days ago, I watched a legit Russian movie called The Dawns Here Are Quiet, (А зори здесь тихие). It’s an old one (about 40 years old – if you wanna know more about the plot, etc. just click on the linked title of the movie), but really, really good. I was able to understand a bit, but I admit that I used the subtitles mostly. It was also a little bit over 3 hours long! Awesome WW2 movie though, some interesting Soviet-type-stuff, as well as Russians waxing philosophical, always a plus.
Today, we went on our final excursion! We went to the Temple of All Religions, a privately funded building that pretty much combines the styles of a bunch of different religions (not All, but, hey, the name sounds better than Temple of A Bunch of Different Religions). Pics to come soon.
Not many people are allowed inside – mostly newspapers and official delegations, but our group somehow found some connections through KGU and were able to go inside! We met the Temple’s caretaker (essentially) who explained how they do everything by themselves, no outside help, no state funding, nothing. He’s also the first person outside a Hollywood studio who actually collects dirt from different places. He has dirt from three places in America – Houston, TX, Manhattan, NY, and College Station, TX. I kid you not. It was freaky. He also had a huge container of Johnnie Walker’s whiskey, which he offered to us – our resident director stepped in on that one.
I’ll finish up by telling you that I have officially learned (sorta) how to make ishpishmach, my favorite Tatar dish: three-cornered (ish = 3, pishmach = corners) meat, potato, and onion pie that is absolutely delicious. So be prepared to eat that when I get home.
Until the next time,