Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Real Life Quest. Three Kamazes.

I don't know about you, but I still feel unbalanced (is that the right word?) after reading Merch's story. It's so immensely humane I almost can't bear it. I need to steady myself again.

It also made me think about real life quests. Not quests for life, but just quests. I bet everyone has a real life quest-like story. Maybe not as powerful as Merch Gwyar's tale, but nevertheless a quest. Here is mine; I think it fits the definition all right.

It was during the summer of 1992, USSR was no more, but nothing was there to replace it yet. I was young and could care less.
Cell phones were unheard of, even criminals didn't have them. Regular phones were common in cities, but you could hardly find one in the countryside. And that's where I was, living with my grandparents in our dacha house. I had an appointment though. Several friends of mine (including my future wife) agreed to meet at a little train station called Kryzhovka (I dare you to pronounce it ;-)) on a particular day/time and spend a day together at my friend's house (also a dacha, about 4 kilometers from the train station). It was all good, our dachas were near the same railroad and trains were regular and precise, I calculated which train I should take in order to arrive in time for 11 AM rendezvous.

I left early, walked a few kilometers to the train station, bought a ticket and proceeded to wait for the train, but it didn't come. That was unusual. People were getting anxious and finally someone tuned in a portable radio station and we heard that there was an accident, a freight train got derailed or something and railroad was closed for the day. And there I was, at 10 AM and 50 kilometers from Kryzhovka. That's where my quest started. I couldn't just come back and forget about the meeting, could I? I had the whole day ahead of me and I was determined to see my friends one way or another.

So I walked to the nearest paved road and tried to hitch a ride. For 20 minutes cars were passing me by, but then a monstrous Kamaz slowed down and the driver waved me in. I bet truckers are all the same, no matter what part of the world it is, they need someone to talk to. So we talked, I told him about the meeting, but he wasn't going to Kryzhovka. He was heading for a clay quarry by Radoshkovichi. it was in the right direction, but not quite there and away from the main road. However, there was a chance of finding another Kamaz driver in the quarry who would take me further, so I stayed the whole way. The quarry was busy, don't know if you had a chance to see any of those humongous holes in the ground with people and their seemingly toy cars chipping away at the earth - it's quite a sight. I walked to the weight station and started to ask drivers passing through about their destinations. About ten trucks later, one driver said that he was indeed going in the right direction and could bring me close, but he was planning to make a stop first and pick some potatoes. That sounded all right with me, though the driver was somewhat reluctant. Anyway, I hopped in and off we went. Then I realized why he was reluctant. Off the main road we went and into the fields until he stopped the truck by a big kolkhoz owned potato field, he was planning to steal potatoes. Well, what can I say, he didn't take much and I helped him to load the sack into the truck. I don't think I felt guilty though. The driver was appreciative for the help and even went out of his way to bring me as close as possible to the train station. I thanked him and hurried forward. It was 12.30 PM, but no one was waiting for me...

I wasn't surprised, surely my friends have already found out about the railroad accident and there was no reason to wait for me then (in fact they waited until noon). Now I had another problem: I didn't know where to go from the station. I've been at my friend's dacha once, but it was two years ago, I didn't pay attention and we walked from a different train station. There were 5 or 6 dacha complexes around Kryzhovka, each one with 300-400 houses. I did remember that last time we walked for a long time before we reached the house, so I looked around for trails, picked one which was going straight to the woods (and thus seemed longer) and went on. Soon I reached a dirt road and a few minutes later heard a car engine behind me. I stepped from the road to let yet another Kamaz to pass by. It was actually quite surprising to see a Kamaz there, I mean how often do you see a truck like that on a dirt road in the middle of the woods? And then to my amazement the truck stopped and the driver leaned out of the window and asked me for directions! Apparently he was bringing bricks and planks to some house and got lost. I honestly admitted that I had no idea where the dacha complex he was looking for was, but I did hope to see some dachas ahead myself. He offered me a ride, I jumped in and 10 mins later we were there. It was indeed the place the driver was looking for, but I had no idea whether I was in the right place or not. I decided to walk street by street and ask people outside about my friend's name. I didn't have any luck on the first street, but someone on the second street told me that the name sounded familiar. That was encouraging. I pushed on, and half way through the third street I got that deja vu feeling. No one was outside and the gate was closed. I jumped over the fence, walked around the house and there they were.

I've never been inside a Kamaz prior to that day and never again afterward.

Was that the happy ending? Perhaps. We had a great day, but got beaten up by a gang late in the evening on another train station where we went to take our respective trains home. So instead of going home we went to the police quarters in Minsk, left a complaint and then spent the rest of the night baking pancakes and drinking tea. So yeah, there was a happy ending.

P.S. That's a Kamaz

P.P.S. Found a picture with Kryzhovka train station

P.P.P.S. If you don't know what dacha is, take a look here. Below is a picture of a typical dacha lot. Three houses you can see are in fact three different dachas.


H Alger said...

I love the fact that Runescape blogs are making this move towards real life stories.

Fantastic stuff, both yours and Merch's.

Merch Gwyar said...

Wow! Great story! I followed that on the edge of my seat hoping that you'd make it. :D

Vaskor said...

H Alger, Merch Gwyar, thank you!

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