In contrast to starving Moscow

The trip to Germany was an amazing adventure for us, in every sense of that — the places we have visited, the people we talked to. Even some little things seemed amazing — everything was new, everything was so unusual and delightful.

For example, when we arrived in Dusseldorf, we were handed a thick bundle of German marks and I had never seen them before. Then, before taking us to the dacha, Mishka took us to the grocery store, as there would be no opportunity to buy anything after, because the dacha was located in the village of Langenbroich near Kreuzau.

Huge counters filled with unknown products seemed to us, to people from then-starving Moscow, some kind of luxurious decoration. Mishka was showing me, and I was putting all that in a huge basket (in Moscow there were no such devices that would make the purchase process easier, and even if there was something, except for blue chicken and also blue sausage, there would be nothing to fill them with). She chirped with the seller in German, with us in Russian, smoothing out the awkward moments that we probably were creating. However, as soon as she mentioned that we were Russian guests of Böll, they were becoming more benevolent. Even, as it seemed to me, somewhat compassionate.

About a week later, I mastered the process of shopping in the luxury shops of Kreuzau, walking there through green pastures, where herds of incredibly beautiful brown cows were strolling around between hills covered with thickets of raspberries. Sometimes we rode together with Yuriy Nikolayevich on a bus that always followed the schedule with amazing accuracy in the company of German old women with neatly styled curls. These trips also became a kind of contribution to the development of “Western civilization”.