A Broad Abroad: Emails To The Big Chief
[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.]
When I started travelling in the 1980s, I used to send my parents a postcard from wherever I stopped. Often they would reach home long after me. Then, once the Internet became available, we taught my mum to use it so that she could keep in touch with my travels. She was proud of what I was doing, but always frightened that something terrible would happen to me. To the end of her life, her standard reply on hearing that I had just won another contract and was heading off on a new adventure was always: “Oh dear”.
My sister Sheila gave us all ‘internet handles’. After our father died (taking on the guise of Heavenly Dude), Mum became The Big Chief and my travel missives were entitled Emails to the Big Chief. This series came from one of my regular trips to Russia.
Day 1: The Long Unwinding Road
1960s furniture, no CNN and a dreadful bathroom. Casino, noisy disco and a bar full of prostitutes. You’ve guessed it – I’m back in Kostroma. The plane wasn’t hijacked and I’ve not been kidnapped, so you can stop worrying.
Earlier today, in Moscow, interpreter Sasha and I stopped for lunch at Boris’s apartment before hitting the road. Remember the first time I met him? He spent an hour telling me the history of the project and how his company had been screwed by the multinationals. He’s given a repeat performance whenever I’ve met him since, and today was no exception. But it’s a small price to pay for being welcomed into someone’s home.
The road to Kostroma is five hours without bend or corner. Bored, I thought about other times I’d made that journey. I never told you about the first time. Our driver, speeding like Schumacher, swerved between the right side of the road, the left and the gravel verges, depending on the potholes. The road in front of us was empty for much of the time; but we always seemed to be about to meet a lorry each time he made a particularly violent swerve. Today was much quieter and slower. I had time to think about the training I am here to deliver.
Next time: Day 2: Be Prepared