The Jailbird and The Hungry Kitten

Hitchhiking in Siberia, I would often come across released jailbirds on the road. They usually have no money, so the only way for them to get back home is to hitchhike. They are not really dangerous for hitchhikers, I would say even the opposite. Once one released jailbird helped me to get a ride when I was stuck in the middle of nowhere in -30°C. I can’t explain this, but criminals have some kind of special respect for hitchhikers. Many times I would find myself in a car with some gangsters, who were eager to help me, or would offer me food and drinks.

This story took place in a cafe when I was on my way from Ulan-Ude to Irkutsk. We were given a lift by a Kamaz truck driver. It was around 4 PM when we stopped at the rest area and went in the roadside cafe to have dinner. There were not many customers. We ordered our dishes and tea, and I went to wash my hands. When I was washing my hands, a 40-45 years old man came in. He wore big black glasses and a fur hat. Upon seeing me, he said some words in Georgian. “Gamarjoba. Genatsvale.” “Psycho,” I thought of him. But later, seeing the tattoos on his hands I realized that he was not a psycho at all, but a jailbird, just released. Continue reading

Roadside cafe: Two Cups of Coffee

“Thank you very much! Goodbye”.. We got off the car and closed the door. Driver started the engine and soon we could only see the car as a dot far ahead.. Me and my friend Wind we were on Tula bypass.. Hitchhiking from Moscow to Kursk wasn’t easy on that cold December day.. There was a cafe on the roadside, so we went in to have lunch..
The owner, a 40 years old man, was very surprised and in the same time happy to see customers..
“Plain rice, carrot salad and 2 cups of coffee, please”..
“Sit down, please, I’ll bring your order”..
Another strange cafe on the road.. How many of them I’ve seen already.. And how many are still waiting for me.. I believe, all the roadside cafe keep some secret that no one knows.. And that’s why they are all strange..
We sat right in front of the TV.. Two old freaks who claimed to be members of Russian Science Academy, were hosting some stupid TV show for children.. Is it because they think children are stupid?.. Or?..
Our order was soon on the table.. I started eating.. Another customer came in.. I was still eating.. And the two old freaks were smiling from the TV screen.. The customer got his order.. Wind was sitting near me.. And I was eating.. Freaks were smiling.. The customer was eating, too.. And Wind was sitting near me.. And it all lasted for 20 minutes.. I called the owner..
“What happened to our coffee?”
He came out of the kitchen and looked at me as if I was his servant and he was angry on me..
“Can’t you wait a bit? I have to cook it, right?”
We were surprised.. It’s been 20 minutes that guy was cooking an…….instant coffee?!.. What’s there to cook?!..
We got our coffee in 10 minutes.. I took one sip.. And called the owner again.. Ha came to us..
“You know what? This coffee is cold,” said I..
“Are you sure?” He was surprised..
“Yes, I’m sure. The coffee is cold”..
He took the cup and drank a bit.. Then he said:
“Indeed! It’s cold.. How strange.. Well, I’ll warm it now, wait a little”..
He took the cups of coffee and put them in microwave oven, and few minutes later brought them back to us.. Neither me nor Wind wanted to drink that coffee.. We took our backpack and left..