Crowded words and people crowded in my head bouncing, struggling. And it’s not a dream, but the truth, from Russia, Russian it is.
Russia as imperialism in the star, sickle and hammer details overwhelming, surrounding, it crashes.
There is a Russian song about sad love, not from the distance, but not fulfilled, undone woman, ripe one, with piano accompaniment. The Russian songs, artist in her 50s, poor listeners she has, in Literackoja Café, where people are meeting just to be here while down there Pushkin’s puppet is sitting. And those sounds penetrating, infiltrating so sharply, that the whole soul is crying. And the lady sees it deeply hurts me, she smiles.
There is Russian vodka. Has to be, as Russian theatre disappointed me. I wanted so much to forget myself inside it, feel the great energy, gesture, which gives the symbol. I would so much want to have thoughts and search for the associations, or simply be delighted with the form, run into the scenic world, where people are interested. And nothing. Empty emotions and overwhelming boredom. Fermented air, people are crowded everywhere, as everyone goes to the theatre in Petersburg.
Theatre plays the educational part, where one goes for the historical truth, as it is basically unfamiliar. Those who haven’t been to the theatre in Petersburg won’t find out what happened with the Russian Jewish people after the Second World War. Won’t find out why Hitler became powerful. Won’t find out the difficult and unjust fate of Russians in lagers during Stalinism, as many of them were convicted unfairly. Stalinism was an evil system, it’s important to realize it finally. The history of Russian physics professor, Jew, who has to humiliate himself and admit whatever mistakes in front of the party in order to stay at the university. Fight for the idea isn’t strange for Russia. Maybe just the words are too literal, told with apposition, for the audience, as the active, thinking element of theatre construction, there is nothing.
And vodka is the best. The best is “knock you out”. I take the one for 60 rubles, the cheapest as every vodka in Russia is good. Only the shop assistant smiles slowly, as she does with her every gesture. Fortunately Aleksiej is here. He comes from Lvov, Russian mother, Polish father. He came here for money, as there he “couldn’t live”. He works at construction. He gets monthly 1500$, not bad, he doesn’t complain, only life in Petersburg is expensive. He’s lonely, as his all family stayed in Ukraine, where he visits them with onions. He says, we’d better don’t drink this vodka, as it’s ploho. Here, in Russia, there are plenty dangerous self-made alcohol, he says, you’d better don’t drink such a cheap vodka, as you have only one health. He knows life.
The best food is in Stalowaja, on the Moskowskaja Street, next to Elektorsilna underground. Olga works there, woman in her fifties, with well preserved bob and golden tooth. She’s immigrant from Belarus. She moved out after the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. As there was no life, she says. Her grandfather was Polish, here she works as a cook, she smiles as I’m from Poland. Sentimental she is.
Coffee in a pub, which smells like train stations, somewhere in the beginning or at the end of Nevsky prospect. Here the professor from Hermitage museum drinks beer with his dudes from work. He is the only one specialist from Polish history, XVI, XVII century. He speaks little Polish as he’s been there once, asks if it changed a lot since 80ties. He says that Finns are Russians dependants in Karelia. He’s from Murmansk, but his mother comes from Arkhangelsk. He gives me his business card, so that I could go for a beer with him next time I’ll be around. He says, that there is no Polish art in the museum, as it was treated as Russian after the Second World War, so not much enthusiastic. They also don’t have Matejko.
Accidentally we’re stuck in Ozerky far north underground station. We’re being given a lift by a fat emigrant from Armenia. Says, how “couldn’t he live there”. He drinks beer, we pay 300 rubles instead of 500 which he wanted. He likes pantomime, he gives show, meanwhile gear changing, what he saw one day in theatre. Old pantomime tricks, he’s good.
Kunst Camera famous is. There is a collection of human elements in formalin, children mainly. The queue ends on the far corner. There is a couple standing behind us. Beautiful umbrella she has. I ask her where did she buy it, as I want one. She says in Venice. There her daughter lives. She and her husband live next to the border with Chechnya, in a little Caucasus village. They don’t want their children to live there because it’s dangerous. War goes on, there is no ending, there is no life. They visit children once a year. Their son lives in Germany.
And Zenia, actor from Arkhangelsk said that it’s peaceful now in Chechnya. That they talked it through. That it’s ok.
There is gin and tonic in can. There are block of flat bushes in Petersburg. There is stench and ordinary life. There are cats feed by lonely grannies, who love Putin. Jelcyn drunk too much, mincing, worthless drunker he was. Putin is horoszyj, pensions are on time, it’s possible to live.
Bezprizornye deti are still somewhere there, they smell acid in the courtyards, no identity, future, just existing. But Sasha says, who wants can live in Russia with dignity. There are equal chances for everyone. Everyone can live his or her life with meaning, sense there is. You only want.
• Deti – children
• Bezprizornye – homeless
• Horoszyj – good
• Ploho – bad
foto by: Magdalena Okoń, Sergio Ballester, Beata Misztal, Paulina Jędrzejewska