Chelyabinsk, Russia – World Trip 2013: Part 9 (Work Week)

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At our partner's company in Russia, Applied Technologies

At our partner’s software company in Russia, Applied Technologies

Ok what in the world am I doing here in Chelyabinsk, Russia? This quaint (in a Russian way) city, with its pedestrian mall (Kirova street) and its universities and its pine tree parks and its occasional colorful skyscraper in the middle of a maze of old cold war buildings.

There were many festivities going on, celebrating the beginning of a new school year!

There were many festivities going on, celebrating the beginning of a new school year!

Well the answer is – I am working – teaching my company’s (Rocket Software’s) U2 technology to our partner’s staff (Applied Technologies) in Chelyabinsk. Teaching a bunch of youngsters, it seems to me, as I reach my 18th year with the company and my 30th year as a programmer.

Me presenting U2 technology to the staff in Chelyabinsk

Me presenting U2 technology to the staff in Chelyabinsk

Evgeny, the U2 staff manager in Chelyabinsk, tried hard to show me a good time, including taking me to an exclusive restaurant at a lakeside where they catch the fish (sturgeon) right when you order it; but the food was much more expensive than Evgenay realized it was going to be (I believe he thought the quoted cost was per fish instead of per 100 grams [1/5th of a pound] of fish). This made for much awkwardness when the check came – but we worked it out and laughed about it later.

Sturgeon fresh caught and fried up - this plate cost over $100!

Sturgeon fresh caught and fried up – this plate cost over $120!

My colleagues Evgeny and Alexander made sure I ate good Russian meals (wonton-like ravioli’s called pelmeni – always cooked when you order, not before, and potato pies and meat pies and sweet carrot pies). Too they took turns driving me to work and back to my hotel, the MarkStadt, a luxury hotel costing around $110 a night. Most importantly the receptionists all spoke English as well as Russian.

Alexander and Evgeny next to old tanks in Victory Park - Chelyabinsk built many tanks

Alexander and Evgeny next to old tanks in Victory Park – Chelyabinsk built many tanks for Russia’s wars, and is proud of its heritage.

Across from my hotel was a park and a nice 300 year old church, with a huge organ inside. Normally this church would have been destroyed during the Russian Marxist revolution, but at the time of the revolution the building was temporarily a storage facility and not a church, so it was spared.

Large 300 year old church

Large 300 year old church

Evgeny proudly showed me the university where he attended.

Statue of Evgeny (or not!)

Statue of Evgeny (or not!)

I like to think the statue in front of the university was built in his honor.

The other statues, on the roof of the university main building, are breathtaking.

Chelyabinsk university statue

Flying statue

Flying statue

On my last day, after a final session of technical talks, we exchange gifts, pose for pictures, and say goodbye.

The Russian U2 staff and me.

The Russian U2 staff and me.

After work, I walk down to Kirova street, to the vendors and buy a few more Matryoshka (nested) dolls for the kids and grandkids. I leave with the impression that these are good people, much like Americans, but perhaps more innocent, like the Americans of the 1950s. And I hope one day I can return.

Street vendor's nested dolls and stone carved animals

Street vendor’s nested dolls and stone carved animals

p.s. – Have you ever seen a shower that looks like this?

I had to ask the maid how to turn the water on! I dared not try to turn on the radio or the sauna light.

I had to ask the maid how to turn the water on in this shower-closet-entertainment center! I dared not try to turn on the radio or the sauna.

p.p.s. – Alexander told me in February he was eating breakfast when a light so bright filled the room that he thought an atomic bomb had gone off nearby. He thought it was the end of the world. But no, a minute passed, two minutes passed. And nothing happened. Then – boom! A shock wave hit the apartment building, shaking the walls – he does not know why the windows did not break – they did break in thousands of other apartment buildings across the city, hurting many people. This was, of course, the Chelyabinsk meteor. Alexander told me that if the meteor had passed only a few thousand feet lower, the shock wave of its passing would have smashed flat all the buildings in Chelyabinsk. If the meteor had struck the earth, it may have ended all life. This close passing of the meteor has changed the people of Chelyabinsk, he thinks. They know now that life could end in a second.
Categories: foreign travel, travel | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Chelyabinsk, Russia – World Trip 2013: Part 9 (Work Week)

  1. Wow what a turn around from your night with wild hogs!! Lol. That hotel & the people sounded soo nice 🙂 I hope you brought alot of those nested dolls because the kids looooove em!

  2. As I read and recalled the meteor incident–having been in the midst of most of the worst recent hurricanes and in the vicinity of the forest fires in Colorado, they pale in comparison to the meteor–I was wondering if Alexander touched upon lingering effects and was glad you included his observations.

    • One thing he mentioned was that the sky remained clear of clouds for several days after the meteor – something unheard of, and unsettling for them in Chelyabinsk.

      ________________________________

  3. Evgeny Kertsman

    We are glad to see you here again in any time =) Have a good trip in Europe

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