Hitchhiking Siberia: Ganesha, The Cop Story and The Shivering Girl

The Hitchhiking Trip to Siberia – 2009
On the road from Moscow to Irkutsk
Part Two

Read in Armenian

January 13, 2009. My second day on the road from Moscow to Irkutsk. Around 7.30 AM I was woken up by some strange screams in the cabin of the van. It took me few minutes to realize that it was just an audio version of the first part of “The Pirates of the Caribbean”. Fyodor, the driver, said since he can’t watch the movie while driving, he just listens to the movie. And early morning was just a perfect time for it, I guess. Unlike yesterday, the weather was cold, snowy and windy. Fyodor offered me a cup of hot coffee. Suddenly, I’ve noticed a small statue of Ganesha, the Hindu god, placed on the dashboard.
“Where did you get this?” I asked.
“Oh, I bought it in a shop, this is Ganesha, the God of businessmen. I’m doing business, so he’s helping me,” said Fyodor and laughed.
Snowy road. Hitchhiking in Russia in winter.

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Armenia: Snowpocalypse 2012

The first two months of winter in Armenia didn’t surprise.. There wasn’t that much of snow nor it was very cold. The air was dry, and all I was thinking of was a little bit more snow, because I couldn’t take the grey and boring view of the surrounding world anymore. But then something went wrong. I mean, all of a sudden the weather changed completely, and us a result all you can see now looking through your window is white fields. Yes, it’s been snowing hard, especially for the last 3 days… non-stop. Now when I am writing this post I can see and hear the snowstorm.

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The City of Tomsk, Russia

Tomsk is my favorite city in Russia! And even though some may say St. Petersburg is more beautiful (which is not that far from the truth), still among all the cities I’ve visited in Russia, Tomsk is the number one for me! And it’s not only because of my good friends who live there, or its amazing wooden houses, or the friendly atmosphere, or tonnes of white snow on the streets in winter. Or, or, or. There’s something special in Tomsk, which I hardly can express using words.

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Mamikon: The Story of a Lonely Soul

It was getting dark when I got off the truck near the little Siberian town called Tulun. Having no wish to walk through the town, I decided to stay near the petrol station hoping to get a ride in a short time. The weather was quite windy and with -30°C it was almost impossible to stand on the road. I had no hot tea in the thermos, I had no food. And I was just jumping and dancing, trying to warm myself when a man who seemed to be a security guard came to me. His face was very Armenian, and I thought that it’s nice to meet an Armenian guy here in this far land.
He smiled and asked, “How many kilometers?”
His accent confirmed my guess. He was an Armenian.
“I’m now coming from Irkutsk, but I’m from Moscow, hitchhiking back home,” I replied and realised that my answer had nothing to do with the question.
“From Moscow? But it’s very cold outside.” He looked surprised.
“I got used to it.” Humans can get used to everything. Cold weather comparing to wars and killings is just nothing. My thoughts were far ahead of me. The stranger took a long look at me. I noticed deep sadness in his big black eyes.
“I see… Would you like a cup of hot tea?”

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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