An empty dacha with empty space outside.
Typical Russian shashlik.
A happy group photo. A few minutes before we left the dacha as it was really too cold.
Cui-ting is pregnant, the baby will be due in 3 months' time.
Hot tea saved me!
Even young children are often pensive like adults. Real Russians they are.
Bilingual Armin also has a serious look, son of a capable Bangladeshi father and a chirpy Russian mother.
The main engineer of the trip, Joy on the left. I was as still as furniture in the spartan dacha.
Birch trees - the soul of Russian forest. I feel the urge to sing the song dedicated to them!
Keep me warm please!!
Indulging in chips and juice, our little one enjoys momentary freedom from her mother.
The two Chinese friends from North-eastern China.
A day at the dacha, or rather a day of suffering! It was still too cold to enjoy outdoor activities in April. But we went all the same with the great organizational skill of our new friend - Joy, a Russian-trained Bangladeshi engineer who works on big ships. He speaks perfect Russian and English. It was his ex-wife's dacha where we visited and had our first shashlik barbeque in Russia.
He did all the shopping of drinks and shashlik and came pick us up from our dorm. In his car was Aleona, a vivacious Russian woman who attempted to learn Chinese but gave up. In another car was Asad, the big brother of the Bangladeshi clan in our university. He has long graduated with his PhD and lives a great life here with his Russian wife and children. With him were his family and other friends. Two cars then zipped off to the barren dacha, where the third car also converged at the same time.
Hastily cleaned up the little hut, called dacha or villa, we placed the mobile table and chairs for minimal comfort. But actually that was where I planted myself half-a-day long to keep myself humanly warm. Joy and Jamil, my young Bangladesh brother did most of the work outside, ensuring the shashlik adequately cooked. It was not only good, it was heavenly delicious.
While we were getting used to the cold, Cui-ting remembered that her husband actually packed for her a thermal flask of pipping hot water, and wrapped up with a towel. We happily made tea with it. Model husband, we call it. I could only envy. And Cui-ting not once trumpeted that men from North-eastern China are of a rare breed, they make great husbands. Soon, we had to ration the hot water, when our Russian friends also find the weather a bit too unfriendly and need a cuppa!
Thanks to our friends, we had the first BBQ. However this is not my first trip to a Russian dacha. I have visited one in Moscow region with Alexandr and Lena, my friends in Moscow. It was a totally different sight. Lena's parents are the owners, they build the little paradise with bare hands over 20 years. I visited last summer, and due to the fiery hot weather at close to 40 degree celcius, we cut short our stay and also dropped the idea of spending the night there. Their dacha was full of fruits, flowers and vegetables. They even have a little pond with fish!
And a few months down the road, I experienced another sight of dacha which offers nothing but the space. And we too cut short the visit due to the weather. Hot vs cold, barren vs fullness, Russia is a land of contrasts and extremes, a haven of great experiences.
For the next trip to the dacha, I will make sure I will ONLY stay at home when the temperature is as low as 10 degree celcius!