Taking down the garbage yesterday morning, I did a final round of the neighbourhood to see it through eyes that have grown familiar with their surroundings over the last two weeks. I said goodbye to the pigeons and playgrounds, the shop-fronts… and the bakery that I have come to know. The bakery — purveyor of wonderful sweets and savouries… Leo has survived on their sausage rolls — at least two a day — as he grimly holds out against culinary adventure despite his choice of profession.
The Sergei came to collect the key and we met Julia and Ilya who took us to the station. Once there, I resumed my search (fruitless so far, but let’s see what Paveletskaya Station and Domodedova Airport yield) for Putin mugs and calendars, and they accompanied us across the tracks to the train, found us our carriage, and settled us inside. We were early, so they stayed chatting, until we suddenly realised that the train was moving.
There had been no warning, no whistle, not even a slamming of doors to alert non-passengers to leave the train, and even though we were moving little faster than an arthritic snail the young wagon attendant refused to try and stop it. Poor Ilya… I have seen plenty of children’s tears, but none that actually spurted… When he thought that he and his mother were trapped on the train, he howled in panic.
Eventually the attendant admitted that she was inexperienced, a student hired to fill a gap, and set things in motion to put Julia and Ilya off the train at Prokhorovka, half an hour down the line. They would get back to Belgorod by taxi, and no, they would not have to pay. Ilya settled down to use a drawing programme on his mum’s mobile, and we discussed the learning opportunity for all that this situation gave: the girl to be more responsible, Julia how her moment of fear transmitted to her son, and Ilya that yes, things happen, but there is always a solution and situations can often be turned into adventures. (They made it home without a problem and soon all the kids in the building knew — probably with a little embroidery, but that’s what story telling is about, right?)
We arrived in Moscow to rain at about 8 o’clock, found out hotel (The Come Inn — a little clinical but very clean and with a great shower but no towels), and went out for pizza, Apart from sausage rolls, Leo’s Staff of Life is pizza, and both Papa John’s and Dominos are around the corner. Choice, eh?
The alarm just rang, so we have an hour or so to pack, get breakfast, and get to the train station before our flight…
Little White Donkey over and out… For now.