The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
It was around 6.30 PM when we passed the city of Omsk. Andrey decided to make a stop for dinner. We found a restaurant on the road and ate as much as we could. While eating, we watched local news on TV. One of the reports told a story of a bus conductor, a middle-aged woman, who forced a pregnant young lady to get off the bus out in the cold, and the reason was that she didn’t show a document that certified her pregnancy, which gave her a right of free pass in public transportation. And she was on her 6th month. How blind and heartless one has to be not to see that the lady was pregnant and wasn’t lying. I was speechless, so were all the people in that restaurant. “What a bitch,” said then one of the waitresses. The rest agreed with her. We… well, Andrey paid, and we left.
At a speed of 120-140 km/h I was observing the night sky, and the Orion was one pure beauty. I looked at the driver, wondering what was he thinking about. He turned to me and said: “So your name is Artyom. How interesting. Do you know what it means?” I knew only that translated from Greek my name meant “unharmed, of pure health”, so I told him about it. “Yes, yes, yes. That is true,” said Andrey. “But not only this. If you divide your name into two parts – ‘ar’ and ‘tyom’, AR is the RA – the sun, the light. And the TYOM comes from the Russian word “t’ma” (тьма) – darkness. So, Artyom is Light and Darkness.” “And if you divide it into ‘Art’ and the Hindu ‘Om’ sound, you get something like transcendental art,” I added. Andrey suggested two more interpretations of my name: “Artyom was a social status in ancient times. Say, there were centurions and others, and the highest rank was artyom, i.e. his spiritual level is very high. Also the word “t’ma” (darkness) can have another meaning – ten thousand. In Cyrillic numerals “t’ma” stands for 10K, or 100K. So then ‘artyom’ means someone who gives light to tens of thousands of people.”
I think Andrey was the most interesting driver I have ever met in all these years of hitchhiking. He considered himself a Slavo-Aryan, a pagan, and believed that the life on Earth is of extraterrestrial origins. As he said, many of centuries ago the gods from the other planets settled the first earthlings at the North Pole and left for 10 thousand years to come back in 2012 to take them back home. These 10,000 years he called Kali Yuga. He also believed Earth is the only planet that has a portal to the spiritual world, and the only place on Earth where the ‘keys’ from that spiritual portal are still preserved is India. “We have to go to India and learn from them how to come back to our true origins,” he would say.
16 January 2009
At 2 o’clock in the morning we arrived in Novosibirsk. Andrey drove me through the city and dropped off at the parking lot out of Novosibirsk on the Kemerovo direction. He decided to take a little rest in Novosibirsk. By now I have crossed about 3500 km, and there was no reason for me to wait him until morning for another 270 km left to the city of Tomsk. So we said goodbye to each other. I felt sad. After 2 days and 3 nights spent on the road together we were like good old friends.