"Siberia 2007" story # 29

Kumir Canyon, Altaiskyy Krai, Russia           September 4, 2007

By the time I had finally figured out where and how to buy tickets for the DDT concert, the cheapest remaining ticket cost $80. Ow!
     I was at this time staying once again with the family of Dima, whom I once called a "bandit". I no longer know if he and his clan are bandits. I haven't told him I called him a bandit. That would only hurt his feelings, or else, he and his bandit friends would kill me.
     Like bandits, Dima's family loves business. The step-father yearns to be a stock-trader, and he wants a contact in the U.S. to whom he can sell metal. Dima dreams of being the World's Best Businessman - as long as his mother will be near to nag him to get up in the morning.
     Like the Italian mafia, they kiss family members and call friends "brothers". Energetic Dima wrestles his friends and played me for hours one night in chess. There's also family dysfunctionality. Dima's step-father gets happy and accident-prone when he drinks; Dima's mom grows resentful towards her husband and wallows.
     I planned to get into the DDT concert by lying and telling that I was a big-newspaper journalist sent to write a story about the concert, or else by finding someone with an unwanted minimum-price ticket (which had been 500 rubles, or $20) for sale.
     Dima's step-father, Ivan, said I should simply go say that I want to see the concert but don't have enough money. He said, the "russkaya dusha" (Russian soul) is kind, and inviting.
     Ivan's advice was good. I explained my situation to concert security, who told me to go talk with "kassa" (the ticket office).
     But, by the time I got there, the devil on my shoulder had given me a new plan. "Menya zovut Justin Breen. Dolzen bit bilyet zdes dlya menya." (My name's Justin Breen. There should be a ticket here for me.) The woman looked around her, perplexed. "Bezplatno?" she asked. (For free?) I thought for a second. "Da," I confirmed.
     It was around this time when I realized the "legendary band" DDT wasn't playing in a huge stadium, but in a theatre seating 980. Had I known that, I wouldn't have tried to deceive (more accurately: intimidate/beg) my way inside. I probably didn't deserve to be one of such a select few. But, my efforts were already begun; ... and I don't begin things to fail.
     We spoke to three women, who claimed there simply weren't any tickets. Finally, a young guy resembling a Hollywood camera-man said, "Dai emu bilyet. Chelovek yezdit c avtostopom po nashyy stran." (Give him a ticket. The guy's hitchhiking around our country.)
     The "kassa" sold me a ticket then for 500 rubles. Around us seated spectators, a number of people were allowed to stand. I think the people who stood had the best seats for the two-and-a-half-hour show. They were freer to move to the sound.

A week before this, I was in the Altai Mountains - again. I spent part of the last week of summer in the Kumir River's canyon.
     Yellow had begun to color the glossy leaves of the healthy-white-trunked quaking aspens on the river-bank. Clean Blue washed over circular, orange rocks in the "pssshh"ing, quick river. Red was the shade of moss covering craggy-thumb mountains that tightly oppressed the poor river.
     Cave-dark Aqua filled a deep alley through curling rock, and the rock towers looked as if they'd come to this place to dive into the dirt-less and warmth-less water themselves.
     I walked several kilometers into the humble mountains, following the Kumir. It felt wild deep in the canyon. Evergreen branches and tall grass seemed to fill the Kumir's surroundings, growing wherever they wanted. If I would've camped this deep, alone, I would've been happy during the day, but very scared of animals in the night.
     (And maybe a little scared during the day, too.) I often wished Radim Habr, my mountain-loving Czech friend who'd first told me about the Altai Mountains, would've been with me to explore.

But, I had some nice conversations with sun-tea-skinned Altaians.
     A newly-teenage girl, with quiet facial features, got proud when I complimented on how well she climbed trees. She and her little friend escorted me a while as I walked out of their town.
     A tall man with a shaven head and rocky facial features told me that he's a good man and that I could tell by looking in his eyes. So, we briefly hitchhiked together. He owns animals in his village of 800. His name was, "Awmash" (Altaian for "stone").
     The Altaian word for "Hello" is, "Tagsharr." I said that to one tiny, playful two-year-old, and she smiled so big and waved to me.
     Thanks for having me, Altaians!

- peace, Modern O.

Thanks to Aleksandr; Zenia; Zenia; Vladimir; Zenia; Aleksandr; Anton; Stasion & Zega; Sergei; a young family of three; Valodya; Gosha; Roman, Aleksandr, & Sergei; Valodya & Tatiana; Aleksei; Ale; and Rafayil for rides!
Much thanks to Zenia & Dima; Serioza & Vera - twice more; and Dima, Natalya Dmitriovna, & Ivan for places to stay!

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