We have been in Russia for the last 24 days and have already travelled to five cities. Unfortunately, we could muster very few Russian words, being limited to da (yes), nieth (no) and pasiva (thank you). One Bangladeshi expat, who has been living in Russia since 1996, told us that it's not a tough language to understand 'if you have the understanding of Sanskrit'.
However, we are moving along with those three important words in a country where English is as tough for the natives as Russian is for us. But apart from the difficulties in communication, the Russian sojourn has been a wonderful experience. The fear of roaming around in an otherwise closed country has been replaced with the joy of exploring a nation where people are proud of being Russian, but it never reached a point where we felt they were pretending to be superior.
It is a country where the average person will come forward to help you. He will walk along with you if needed; call you a taxi in desperate times. They are one of the affluent nations but much to our pleasant surprise we found life here is not expensive even if we compare it with Bangladesh. You can buy one kg beef (solid meet with no bones) with a guarantee that you won't be cheated in weight for Tk 400. You can buy 10 eggs for Tk 80 -- it will be less if you buy those from super shops.
They live on potato instead of rice, which you can buy for Tk 70. Fresh fruits are less costly here. Soft drinks are cheaper than a bottle of drinking water. Fuel is cheaper than Bangladesh. Local transport system is not only one of the best in the world, it is also cheap. A ride on a bus in Moscow metropolitan area will cost you Tk 55. It is however less in cities like Saint Petersburg and Kazan, where it will cost you Tk 50 and 30 respectively.
We are in Kazan for the last few days where the Muslims and the Christians live in harmony and in peace. The Kaban Lake is one the many popular tourist destinations. It's not very big, its fountain is not the tallest, but the crystal-clear water of the lake and its surroundings will captivate you. You will find the Muslim women with their children enjoying their time alongside people with different faiths. The most fascinating aspect of Russia is its high-rise buildings or the centuries-old ones with each having its unique characteristics. Standing on the Kaban Lake and watching the skyline you can easily distinguish one skyscraper from the other. And they are not just concrete structures, having got enough breathing space for its residence.
The Bangladeshi expat, who is based in Saint Petersburg and has a Russian wife, said that he has never experienced load-shedding for a second in the last 22 years. From the Kaban Lake you can have a 180-degree view of the city, and it is a sight to see when lit up at night.