Globalization Barriers Overcome or Why I Do Not Drink Beer in the Morning

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Travel  |  House: Booksie Classic
On the issues of globalization :)
Once in my usual Saturday sauna the discussion happened, initiated by our friend, a First Nations guy.
“You are boasting about your Canadian life, but all of you are immigrants, even those whose great-grandfathers were born here. Only I'm a real Canadian!”
“Wrong!” I interrupted him. “You're Russian, because your ancestors came here by the isthmus of Bering from Russia.”
“Oh, no! He is Indian. Yes, they came from Russian side, but they just traveled through Russia being Indian from India. That is why we call them Indians.” Indian guy corrected me.
The Egyptian guy finished the discussion. “All of you are Gypsies and came from Egypt, even you, Indians from India.”

Submitted: August 08, 2017

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Submitted: August 08, 2017



Globalization Barriers Overcome or Why I Do Not Drink Beer in the Morning

Life and work in British Columbia lower globalization barriers by the most effective and natural way as you exist in multicultural nationally diverse Canadian environment. If your friends,  colleagues, neighbours, friends of your kids, business and governmental officials of your contacts are people of many national backgrounds representing practically the whole world, then the international cultural barriers become invisible, as you get used to this diversity, learn how to solve cultural, lingual and even psychological problems existing, and the barrier disappear for you. During my life I was involved in globalization barriers overcome starting from the late eighties, even before the Soviet Union collapse. It was related to my activity as a scholar and research engineer in different international projects. Today, being in sauna of our fitness club together with Polynesian, German, Japanese, Malta, Indian, First Nation, Chinese and other Canadians, Tibetan monk from local Buddha monastery including, I remembered this subject and the thought appeared that it may be interesting to tell the story about my experience. The narrative is not about my today life in beautiful British Columbia. It’s about the era when the “iron curtain” surrounded the place of my habitat and the word “globalization” was a meaningless abstraction.

For the first time I ran into this completely unknown to me and very untypical for Soviets problem in July 1969, spending my first summer university holiday in Altenburg, the city situated in Thuringia. I rode my bike along the roads in the German Democratic Republic most of this summer. Here I am, on the bike in the village of my friend, Thomas Pfau:

It seems that at least a few words are needed to explain how did I get there. In my high school time I drove on a bike for the junior cycling team of Poltava city (Ukraine) in the rank of the “Master of Sport Candidate” (MSC). My team friend, Kostya Chesnyk, and I were invited to enter Kharkov Aviation Institute (KhAI), where they had a strong bicycle team. But it happened that instead of KhAI Kostya went to jail because of a serious fight happened before high school graduation. He was involved somehow in this fight and injured somebody. I changed my plans and went to the homeland of my ancestors, Samara, which was known as Kuibyshev that time, and entered Kuibyshev Aviation Institute (KuAI) in 1968 without any sports privileges, being sure that there is a bicycle team in the university, as well as in KhAI. But it was not there. Genadiy Anatolyevich Shchetinkov, KuAI speed skater coach, having learned that I was a bicycle CCM, persuaded me to start speed skating career. I agreed and got not only skates, roller skates, but also a bicycle. In short, the first university summer vacation in 1969 I was with a racing bike, but without a coach and a team.

My parents lived in the GDR, what gave me the opportunity to free myself from summer labor camp, compulsory de facto for all students with some exceptions like in my case. In June I received a foreign passport and in the first days of July I left Kuibyshev for Moscow for short stop there on the way to the west.

Arriving in the gold-domed city, I took underground from Kazan to Belorussian railway terminal where I hand over my bag and bicycle to the storage room. The ticket for the Moscow-Berlin train (or rather, Moscow-Wünsdorf) was bought at the ticket office for military personnel as I was travelling to occupation zone called a Group of Soviet Troops in Germany. In the summer time, crowds of people, including military, filled the railway terminal queued up for tickets. It was not very bad in my case and after a couple of hours I was free having proper pasteboard in my hands. There was still a lot of time before my train departure. After lunch in the Georgian barbecue restaurant, which at that time was on the square near the station, I walked along Leningradsky Prospect towards Khodynka and saw a huge sign "Beer Hall". It's worth noting that I was an absolute ignoramus in matters of drinks in those years. I have not even tasted wine and vodka for real yet, being basically opposed to liquor, as well as against smoking, by very strong suggestion of my Poltava coach, Vladimir Pavlovich Krasko. And beer in general somehow also did not get in a field of my sight even. Of course, I knew about its existence and believed that it is some kind of kvass modification, used for refreshment in hot weather or after a steam-bath.

Having plenty of time I came into this pub and even drank a mug of beer with some snack. The men behind the counter discussed the quality of the drink. One of them praised German beer and told something about frothy drink culture and their small local rural breweries. Probably, it left a trace in my memory.

My companions in the train drank bottled Zhigulevskoe and dreamed aloud about German beer. I think that this fact was postponed in my mind somehow too. At the first Polish station, Byala Podlyaska, they bought a lot of Polish beer, arguing that this is not the German yet, but better than Zhigulevskoe. I drank one bottle but didn’t see the difference.

We crossed the German border in Frankfurt (Oder) late evening, stopped in Berlin it the midnight, and arrived to Wünsdorf in four fifteen in the morning. My father met me there. The commander’s GAZ-69A, under driver-soldier control, rushed us along German country roads on the way to Leipzig. My father, like me now, preferred picturesque rural roads to motorways. I was surprised that the villages do not look like villages at all, but more like small towns. And the fact that the people wake up so early, surprised me too. Six in the morning is the time of beginning working shifts at most of the GDR state enterprises and businesses.

"It’s time for breakfast," said my father, when we entered one of the villages. "Stop at the Gaststätte," he added, turning to the driver.

We went into what I thought was a fairy-tale house decorated in the garden gnome theme. There were already several visitors in the dining hall. We took a table by the window. A waitress flew up to us, a wonderful (from the word to be noticeable) girl of my age, a very attractive, rare (from rarely-encountered) German specimen. I did not see much of such girls in Germany, except, maybe, another one on the nudist beach. But this is a separate story.

"Was wollen Sie trinken?" She asked, staring at me, probably because I was looking at her all the way too.

"Eine Flasche Bier bitte" - I blurted out, having collected all my knowledge of German in this phrase. The words turned out unexpectedly for me. Probably, all these road conversations about German beer and my unconscious desire to impress girl by pretending being the connoisseur of the quality of this German product were the reason. The girl shuddered, stared at me in despair, then looked at my father as a senior of a command and began to twitter something in high tone, waving a tray. My father was uncomfortable; he smiled apologetically and answered something to her. I think he tried to explain that I came from the middle of dark-cockroach nowhere, but in principle I am not quite wild, studying for an aviation engineer even. I, still not understanding what was happening, continued to smile, although the smile was also guilty. Finally the girl accepted the order from my father and retired to the kitchen.

"You know, drinking beer in the morning is not customary here. We'll drink coffee, "explained father.

If it was not this wonderful girl, I probably would never have paid attention to what happened in this Gaststätte. But she with her highly emotional reaction put an end to my ability to drink beer in the morning. I remembered her for all my lifetime. “She is such an infection, the girl of my dream.” As they sing in one popular Russian song. And the barrier was overcome: I never surprised anyone with a desire to drink a beer in the morning.

That summer I cycled more than three thousand kilometers by the German roads. Here, one more photo from one of those places:

There were several more interesting situations, connected to German pedantry and law-abiding. For example, once, about eight o'clock in the evening at the crossroads behind the Altenburg Theater, I crossed the street to a red light. Doing this I looked around. The city was already in a deep sleep. No one car was not only visible, but not even heard. And I was the only pedestrian within a radius of a kilometer from this intersection. But as soon as I crossed the street, one of the first-floor windows was opened and an elderly lady appeared from there, popped out almost to her waist addressing to me in a very aggressive way. I'm not sure I understood all of her words, but the meaning was clear:

"Hey, you! Do not you see the red light? Blind donkey! "

Well, something like this.

But this case did not make a strong impression to me. I still can cross the street to a red light, even in Germany, if I'm sure that I will not interfere with the traffic of course. Probably, Madame, who read me notation, did not have that strong emotional radiation, like a girl from Gaststätte.

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