Wednesday, August 11, 2010

journey to Russia

(photo Edinburgh Airport before 1st flight )

Sheremetyevo airport 3 am Moscow time.
tired groggy and a bit confused. Don’t know which terminal we are in, we just parked ourselves somewhere with other humans sleeping on the uncomfortable seats. No free wi fi as I’d hoped. A long day, started  at 6am, Rich took me to achnasheen to meet Lynn & family, who then drove us to the bus station in town, all seems aeons ago, but it was some thousand miles....chatted bus journey passed fast, art families, college, the symposium theme, life. Cameron toll ?then the airport shuttle bus, Edinburgh airport grey dramatic clouds. Cup of tea, we’d done on-line check in which hadn’t really been necessary, had hours to use the self check in machines, still queued at check in anyway. Quick hop plane to Amsterdam, north east England patchy fields the bass rock, up up and then down into grey rain. Shinpol airport is HUGE we taxied for ages, arrived at one gate,  people heading off our plane for connecting flights all ver the world. We headed for the gate we’d been told & that was marked on the boarding card, seeming miles of corridor, gate had been changed, miles of corridor back again, found our gate, now we were queued with Russian faces and voices, it starts to hit, flutters of nerves and excitement. We were flying KLM so the flight attendants were Dutch with very good English of course, most of teh passengers seemed to speak good English but it was delicious to start hearing spoken Russian after so long it being abstract symbols on the computer screen of phrase books. The atmosphere on the plane was friendly, are we just used to the miserable economy short flights? was it the Dutch or the Russians? We thought we were in for a 5 hour flght it turned out that it was only 2.40, the long hours taking their toll as we tried to work out time zones and roubles. Amsterdam one time zone, Moscow 2 more, tomorrow another one. We hit some turbulence through some thunderstorms just west of Moscow, a bit scary but then I had been watching the last of LOST the night before. Wewere unsure about how to fill in teh immigration forms, scary... a chat next to Lyn started asking questions were we wre egoing etc, oh oh we both thought, touting for business? Something dogdgy? No, we was warning us that at this time of night you have to be careful wth the taxi’s as they will charge too much for tourists- which I’d already read in the phrase book. Another lady told us how to pronounce Yelabuga... I knew it didn’t sound right ! we were saying yellubuga, its YeLL-Ah-buga. When the pilot landed the plane people applauded, is this normal on longer flights ?
Official ladies at airpot, scary, though immigration no problems though, surpirised  my bags with all the tightly packed paints got through. Russian young women are stunningly beautiful, in a different way to UK pretty, but very haughty looking,  I guess they know they look good & don’t need to smile ? first impressions are everyone else seems friendly...allthough sleepy as its now 3.30am their time, 1.30 ours.
So I’ve made a nest of baggage on the polished floors to sleep and sit in, its really muggy hot, the pilot said 27C, it smells strongly of peat smoke. The tannoy lady speaks in Russian and English. Whats with the cellophane wrapping on bags?

Art ideas? Reading a little of my ‘women of the Celts ‘ book, love the underwater princesses storys but the books gone all post Freudian on me, Macha was made to race horses pregnant with twins not because men fear wombs and pregnancy represents their own death, but because it proves just how tough she was surely? And her curse explains the later weakness and affliction upon Ulster men. I hope we get internet connections as I want to look up more cross refs on wiki. I’m thinking crannogs, my crannog, and stories of women trapped on islands / underwater/ submerged towns, towns with underwater bells, tales of morality. Also about migration, journey , travels, the stories and folk lore travelled, the peoples migrated invaded conquered became evolutionary routes turned into misty tales of forgotten races and distant gods, boats, this with my own journey, back the way the celts and the Scythians, me heading back instinctive on some illogic path. Talking earlier about not needing words or religious concepts to explain, it just is, art our journey, the images we make the path we take, to explain it in terms of destiny, magic, or fate spoils it for me, it just is. How will this translate into art? Now will I get any sleep “ bing bong bing ladies and gentlemen “ ...not much i guess.

 ( photo Moscow sunrise 6am after a night trying to sleep at this terminal )

11th august 2010,

Was woken up off my nest on the floor by a security man, who very friendliliy expl,ained that I cannot sleep on the floor, it sis okay to sleep on the chairs but not the floor. He spoke in Russian 1st then sort of looked at me explained in English. Are we so obviously British ? I guess so. I later asked our hosts and they laughed, I take that as a yes then. This kept happening, I’d say excuse me ‘where is...’ in my best pigeon Russian accent, they’d reply in English. Meanwhile back to terminal...whereever we spent the night, no sleep at all very surreal & hard seats uncomfortable, culture shock, unsure of the social rules. By 6 am their time, still 3 ours? We started the next mission- lesson number 17 ask ask and ask again. We we told it was termainal D for our avianova flight, so off we headed, the red sun raising over a smoggy Moscow dawn, strange and alien skies greeting us. It wasn’t terminal D, but B, which would require a bus, taxi touts pounced on us “ oh at least an hour long way we take you no problem “ “nyet!”. It was about 20 minutes away & cost around 50p on the bus.
Leaving the main terminal of the modern buildings we saw camps of itinerant builders working on the airport horrible conditions, pipelines, everywhere scorched brown, old cars and lorries,m unfamiliar makes, a completely strange looking country, like what I imagined North Africa would look, not Russia. Terminal  B was a small old building for internal flights, we we ethe only tourists there. People kind of stare at us. The beautiful glamourous women put their noses up, officials are really scary and inyimidating, ques are strange us being polite soon realised we were always being shoved to the back, in one queue I was literally having a baggage trolley shoved into my legs..but then again wen I let one woman in front of me she was very pleased, smiling nodding and chatting away in Russian, so hey a bit of courtesy I’ll stick with. So another flight, anoter round of security passport checks and baggage scans. Sometime yesterday I was looking forward to my 1st Russian voice, now thats all there was. So much to take in.

Slept on the flight. Again the applause when we landed, we’ve been told now it’s a European fashion. And there we were Begivishimo airport, plane door opened, and it was like walking into an oven. Hot,  clammy, clammy, still air, 35+ C in the shade...what shade?! The flat landscape scorched yellows and browns. Didn’t take many photos of the journey as I didn’t want to be too much of a tourist, we get enough strange looks as it is!
( Alex who invited us to the symposium and has fixed all our problems for us )

( Olga our translator )

We were met by Alex , Olga  ( our translator ) & a driver, drive to Elabuga, over the river Hama, past remains of a wild fire, past hitchers, ladas, ancient looking lorries, beautiful forests,  swathes of allotments with summer houses ‘dakars?’, then into Elebuga. Old town incredible! Wooden buildings every shape and size with carving around windows , main historical centre which is all part of the state preservation area of which the symposium is part another day. Its stunning. Lunch, fantastic fresh and strange foods, their tea is the best ever! Friendly people, trying out our pigeon Russian, different social rules, back to hotel – a whole apartment each !- organisational stuff, being very well looked after by Olga & Alex, then a sleep and cold bath ( believe me I need it Its as hot as the Fire house here ), dinner, met some more artists all smiles & language barriers so far, walk around town, wi fi card buying, shopping , fruit market ( no tescos monopoly here ) bottled water, blocks of flats in new town . canna get the air con to work, its probably a gaffa tape job tomorrow...things are very different here. Head reeling!  We are 3 hours ahead of home. Early start tomorrow setting up studio spaces...eeek!

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