Updated: Sep 27, 2020
Such an immense territory. So many different landscapes. So profound and intense is the ride across Motherland.
There was a time when I was drawn by the desire of filling a long list of visited countries. People tend to look at you with a special consideration when you say you have been to X countries. You can name them all in one line and for many this is all it takes to judge someone as a reference for growth, for enlightenment. I won't lie I used to like the way my people reacted at my stories from life abroad.
However, sometime ago I went off on a trip that shocked my concepts. While riding on a train across eastern Russia I realized that a long experience immersed in a different culture is indeed more transforming than trying many of them.
In that trip I had several short conversations with a variety of people. They were not any scholars or professionals committed to tell about the history or cultural richness of their country. They were simply citizens who occupy some random work position. They just live and work sustaining their families and loved ones, they have personal goals and ideas that only give notion of who these people are. But listening carefully and eagerly to their life stories and dilemmas, trying to look the world through their perspective, all this adds a component to the large and complex image you have of the culture you are trying to understand.
After various of these meetings and short talks, after absorbing so much information, after so long exposed to this constant observation, the image becomes giant and meaningful, it becomes more vivid and more clear. It is as if you had been lifted over a city to see its contour and shape. But what you see then is not a city but a culture. And the process is indeed magical, it produces a new perception of everything, it changes who you are and, unavoidably, it gets to a point where all that matters for you is to feel it.