A Broad Abroad; Emails To The Big Chief (2)

Back in 2007, when I first started this blog, I wrote a series of posts to my mother; electronic postcards that would get home much quicker than the real things, they were called Emails to the Big Chief. They went out in the quiet period immediately after Christmas and were seen by very few people. Now, more than eight years later, I thought they would bear repeating in the monthly travel spot. Last time I talked about driving from Moscow to Kostroma. Now read on…

Day 2: Be Prepared

The factory is a converted missile base in the middle of the forest. Warehouses are underground bunkers with Fort Knox type doors a metre thick. I was so proud when we opened it ten years ago – a true example of swords into plough-shares.

I’ve always thought of the forests in Russia being pine. In reality, half the trees are silver birch. Their bare trunks and branches stand pale and stark amongst the conifers’ dark green. With the lingering patches of snow, it looks dramatic – but not so harsh as mid-winter. Great surprises awaited me at the base; they’ve been decorating. Gone is the dark wood, replaced by glass, metal and light oak. They even have decent air conditioning. I’m not really sure why I’m surprised. Most of the companies in this part of the world have invested hugely in their offices. It’s just a pity the factories themselves remain so Dickensian. It’s a good job I came over a day early; no delegate lists! ‘Elizabeth, they explained ‘we were waiting for you to tell us who should attend.’ ‘Everyone.’ I said, holding my breath and waiting for the protests. However, for the moment, I seem to have got away with it. Of course, when Boris arrives on Wednesday, and finds his factory shut down, I may lose half my class, but for the moment, the boss is a long way away and I’m calling the shots. They’ve tried really hard to get everything perfect for this course. There’s all the equipment I might need. They even remembered the flip-chart pens. And, from the look of the microphone and pile of tapes, they intend to record everything I say. It’s a far cry from the first course we gave here. We used a bent paperclip to hang a notice board. Not so much a case of no screws in the hardware stores – more a case of no hardware stores! The room seats 20 comfortably. We’re having around 30 delegates each day – it’s going to be an interesting week – not to mention a cosy one.

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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