Balaklava is a small seaside town, former military base and tourist paradise. Old gentlemen sit with hats in the harbour, hold their fishing rods into the turquoise water and call out to each other from time to time. The people here are beautiful, like the landscape they are masterpieces of time.
After three weeks, I finally get a two-day break. Two of my colleagues bring the children back to Moscow, two more stay in the camp with me. Apart from us, two girls remain for the second round. Since they mostly long for sleep and good food, I sneak out on my own. At half past seven in the morning, I'm standing at the bus stop. I want to see more of this place.
Pancakes are the most special breakfast/food in my childhood home. When I was little, my father worked in a hospital with shifts and all the family-friendly aspects that this job environment entails. Everyday life was routine and maintained in ninety-nine percent of the time by my mum. Only two or three times a year my dad made pancakes (not necessarily for breakfast).
When I sat at the table for the first time, I sat in front of a plate of naked noodles and a piece of the whole chicken that I. had been cooking in the oven for five hours. The plate was as big as a breakfast plate in Germany, but full to the brim.
In Russia, I am asked without circumlocution about my living circumstances. Often in the first hour of an encounter and mostly by other often older women. "Do you want to get married?", "Would you like to have children, you can handle them very well, you should have kids soon!", "Do you have a boyfriend?" And "Why are you in Russia?"
My experience of the Russian culture is entirely different from that in other (European) countries. All of my previous knowledge is tainted with prejudice. The cultural differences go so much deeper than I ever thought possible. I have spent the last three months getting rid of them.
The summer rain in Samara is heavy and loud. When it rains at night, it sounds like a herd of wild horses is running past my window. I don't know if this is because the rain drops are particularly large or particularly loud on the canopy cover.