So I got my Rimowa* ready.
All the bags are packed, or at least I hope they are – Alyona had her much smaller bag ready already a day earlier. One half of my luggage is electronics, now safely insured against whatever (thermonuclear war, burglary, losing, having it run over by a truck – the usual) and the other half clothes, neatly thrown in and roughly counted.
Why is this journey different than all the others before? Many were wilder, less planned, further away, and taking on alone? Maybe it’s the last one. Maybe it’s the part that I’m traveling to a country where I not only not speak the language, but also can hardly read the language. I did learn Russian for two months, but that’s just enough to let me say my name straight out and have me read Cyrillic with the speed of a two year old. Learning a new language and sign system besides a full time job is pretty tough. Add to that, that I’ll completely rely on her to guide me through this vastness of Russia. All the stereotypes I encountered and catered myself do not help to make me less excited about this trip – being dependent on someone is also rather new.
It’s not like you board a plane and hope across the pond to the States to visit family and culture more familiar to my own than that of rural dwellers outside of my city. It’s flying overland to a world which was closed off to us when I grew up, which turned laughing stock or punching bag of the cold-war winners ever since. It’s a world known to me only in black and white tones, not in the grey tones of the real world. Thinking of Mark Twain, it’s damn time to go there already.
But it’s not only time to face stereotypes and add color to the black and white picture, it’s turning the coin for my companion. She bravely came the other direction to us and faced all the stereotypes we have about “them” and witnessed all that we have to “offer”. Now I can face the music how it really is at her origin and what “they” think about “us”.
* I even considered if taking a certain brand of luggage might pose a risk when rolling it through the cities or being or boarding the Trans-Siberian Express. This is the result of how little I know about and how much bad I heard about the destination.