In my time in Russia, we had some phenomenal and experiences. We met lots of traveller and locals and a few really stood out. I thought i would quickly write about them before the details get hazy.
Sasha : We landed at Irkutsk from Bangkok and after getting stamped in we headed out towards the city. The airport is about 20 mins away from the city and in the middle of the night there is no means to getting from the airport to the city center. Since we just landed we did not have a working phone number and did not have internet. The airport did not have wifi and we had no means to getting the address of the place we booked. We went to this cafe that was open 24 hours hoping to get a nice cup of coffee and wifi. Turns out wifi zones are uncommon. I walked up to the taxi stand and didn’t find anyone. Now we were stuck. A couple of mins after sitting in the cafe i wanted to check with these 2 guys who walked into the cafe if they could hotspot internet to us. Obviously they did not know English and since we had no internet google translate wasn’t working for us to translate what we wanted to say in Russian. Tried sign language and they gave me their phone for me to check for the address of the hostel. Here is where it gets even more interesting. They offered to drop us off at the hostel after they finished eating. Here are 2 guys in the middle of the night offering to help 2 strangers who they couldn’t understand. They quickly finished up and drove us to the hostel. To find the hotel was a little hard since it was tucked away into a lane. Rang the bell at the hostel and nobody answered. They waited for us for about 20 mins. till the hostel guy showed up. He had gone to drop someone at the railway station and thought we would come in later. The guys who dropped us to the hostel gave him a sound yelling, turns out they were cops who after a hard day at work were going back home. They asked the hostel guy to take care of us, ensured we went in and checked in before they left. The most amazing part is they were happy helping us out. Gave them our contact hoping that when they come to India we could do pay back some of the things they did for us.
Galia: We reached Krasnoyarsk in the middle of the day. Caught a bus to our hostel. From the bus stop we started to find our way to the hostel and after spending about 30 mins looking around in vain we decided to ask around. Found this old lady who was walking her dog and tried in our sign language for help finding the place. She thought we were looking for a hostel, made a quick call and found a place for us to stay. We managed to explain to her we have another place already booked, she quickly called the new place and got directions and walked us to the hostel. We said our good byes and she went on her way. The next day she came to invite us home. This old lady inviting 2 strangers back home. Gave us some tea and chocolates and insisted on taking us by the river to a nice chai place. She spent about 4 hours with us showing us around the city and just while leaving made plans to take us out the next day.The next day she was at the hostel at 9 am and took us out to this really beautiful hill. She sat at the bottom and waited for us to go up and see the sights. After this we went out for lunch to this place that served food by the grams. During the conversation she showed us the place she worked at. Apparently she too was a cop. She ensured we got back to the hostel in time and gave Cathy a bunch of really nice clothes that belonged to her daughter. She ensured we left the hostel on time to catch the train. She spent two full days with us, showed us around and gave Cathy some stuff for nothing in return. She did it because she wanted to do so.
Jemia: We were looking for a place to stay at Ekaterinburg and we thought of using couch surfing. It would be lovely to meet the locals of each place and learn a little of the Russian culture. Cathy dropped a quick note to Jemia who accepted our request and would also pick us up from the railway station. Think about it, not only was he ok with a couple of strangers staying at home with him, he was also going to go out of his way and pick them up at the railway station. He picked us up and tok us to this really nice restaurant to eat. In-spite of being a little tired after a hard day at work he drove us to the place where which is the point where Asia and Europe meet. This is place is about 30 Km away from his house. Imagine driving someone you don’t know 30 km to see a monument and that too after a long day at work. The next morning he made us a fabulous breakfast. After which he promised to come back form work earlier to drop us to the railway station. He came back from work and dropped us off. This type of kindness i haven’t seen before.
Looking back at all the experiences I have had at Russia these 3 stand out. The kindness shown to us by complete strangers was astounding. There are lots of people in the world who go out of there way to help other people. I am glad i have had the privilege to meet a few of them. I don’t know why i deserve that kind of unconditional love but I am glad to have received it. For the 3 people who i have written about I am grateful for the hospitality shown to us. I will ensure to pass it on. I have been thinking on writing a book about these kinds of experiences I have had along the years. I was thinking of a name and 365 days of Kindness seemed to be apt. I hope I will follow through and write about these experiences that have molded me to be a little better.