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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Evgeny proudly showed me the university where he attended.
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.
On my last day, after a final session of technical talks, we exchange gifts, pose for pictures, and say goodbye.
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.
p.s. – Have you ever seen a shower that looks like this?