Once I talked with a young, advanced Muscovite, whose worldview is formed by magazines “Om” and “Ptyuch”, who goes to a certain club and reads incomprehensible books. In the middle of the conversation, she confessed, elegantly shaking off the ashes with her index finger from a very long cigarette, that she was nowhere other than Sweden, England and Australia. She did not take Moscow into account, and this is understandable - she lived here from birth. “How there, I wonder, is living in remote places,” - looking thoughtfully somewhere in the smoky farther side of a not cheap cafe, she asked, and I choked on the beer. “It seems to me that outside the borders of Moscow everyone walks in felt boots, they heat the stove and sit without money.”
In a drunken head, I figured that somewhere in Ryazan people in the morning go for firewood, creaking old felt boots, and at night freeze from the cold, envying the bears because they sleep in the winter. A few days later, having finished my studies at the institute, I was already sitting on the train that drove me south five hundred kilometers from Moscow. The endpoint of my mini-trip coincided with a settlement called Krasnoye (Red or Beautiful in English), in the Lipetsk region. I chose it by chance, guided only by aesthetic preferences - the name is painfully beautiful.
After spending thirteen hours on a slow and shaking train, I got off at the chosen station. The station was empty - no one was living here, except for sleepy dogs wandering between the tracks in search of food. I did not find any traces of felt boots, if only because it was in the middle of June. After fifteen minutes of painful hesitation, I met an old woman who, it turned out, was going to the market in the village. Her name was Claudia Stepanovna.
Learning that I came here with purely informative purposes, and not journalistic ones, she began to praise this place and simultaneously regret that I was not a journalist of any major newspaper, otherwise, she would have subjected our government to ruthless criticism. The village turned out to be large and extremely beautiful - the name did not deceive. It is here that the smallest nature reserve in Europe is located - the Galichya Gora, where you can see elks, foxes, and villagers tired of the working week.
They like to relax here. They go to the Don in the natural reserve with a stock of soaked meat for shish kebab and banal vodka. The youth here was extremely curious - at the very first disco, they knocked me down and asked where I came from. They immediately see a stranger here, and if you do not give a decent answer, you can stay without a pair of front teeth. A few minutes later I was sitting and having a conversation in the company of local youth to the quiet rustling of the park trees and the gurgling of pouring moonshine.
And the conversation was sad. Peers complained that there is nowhere to go and nowhere to have some fun. They entertain themselves with the local flammable liquid, which they sell in every third house. A disco happens, although rarely, but democratic: the music here is different and not strictly specialized, like in Moscow. Sometimes, however, lovers of the heavy style come across who now and then make a micro-revolution, sweeping away all DJs, and then extreme "dolbage" (i.e. hardcore) explodes over the rural plains.
After school, many young Krasnoye residents strive to leave far away to some large city like Moscow, Voronezh or nearby Lipetsk. Most do not return. I met only one patriot of a small homeland, - Sanya. “Why,” he said, “I’ll study at the Agricultural, become an agronomist, I’ll come here to raise the village. And there’s nothing to do in the city - there are only bandits there. Moreover, we already have the Internet and MTV.” Yes, there is the Internet in an ordinary Russian village. Now you can access it from any nearby village. So they read “OM” and “Ptyuch” here at the same time as that my Muscovite friend does. And they show MTV around the clock here.
It is not fashionable to freeze here in winter - almost every house has gas. At night, after disco noises, you can hear the screeching of wheels and the roar of motorcycles. The guys increase the dose of adrenaline in crazy rides on daddys' cars and their motorbikes. A more adult villager has to look for fun on Friday markets, where you can meet all your friends and acquaintances and stare at a new product. I was leaving this place with a feeling of incomprehensible yearning and with a hangover syndrome in my head, imagining how I would tell my friend about a beautiful village where there is the gas, Internet and MTV.