Translation:Crimean guru in Sumatra

Crimean guru in Sumatra  (2013) 
by Viktor Pinchuk, translated from Russian by Wikisource

“Heard the bell sound but doesn't know where it is”, there is such a saying. A stranger found out that I often go abroad and asked me a question, hoping to get advice on how to improve your material situation by visiting to distant countries. I smiled back: "My recommendations will take you to Papua New Guinea, Mongolia or Uganda and only help realize how wonderful you live here."

Last day in Malaysia Edit

Malacca City met me with midday heat. Taxi drivers offered their services. Seven kilometers to the coast? It's nothing, I haven't forgotten how to walk yet. Let me explain why I came there. There are two relatively inexpensive ways to get to Indonesia: from Malacca to Dumai and to Medan from George Town. The first option is cheaper. One ferry per day connects neighboring countries. Having reached the port, turned to the ticket office: they said to come in the morning before departure. I spent the night spreading a camping mat in a large clearing, where during the day adults and children played outdoor games by the sea. The moon has risen, making me think. The fever has not yet shown signs. But if I didn’t have 15 ringgit, Malaysian doctors would not even talk to me: “Be sick, get die, but if you are a beggar, you don’t exist for us.” Enough about it, tomorrow I will be in another country...

Gan Boon Leong, bodybuilding pioneer (Malacca City)

The ticket price is the same for everyone, regardless of skin color and cabin class. However, there are no cabins: passengers are accommodated in one cinema-like room, where Indonesian video clips are broadcast on a large TV screen. This restored my optimism and even lifted my spirits.

In a boring provincial town Edit

Always represented Indonesia in bright colors. But what was my surprise when instead I saw an almost black and white reality under a grayish sky. Leaving the terminal, ignored the suggestions of taxi drivers and walked in the direction suggested by intuition. Walked about a mile. It's useless to ask: they don't speak English here. A motorcyclist caught up me, offering to help.

I wanted to send him far away, but restrained in time. The guy asked where I was going, and when he found out that in the Mr. Murchison's school, said that he was studying there. Information about a private English language school where you can stay for a couple of days, helping children practice speaking, I read on the Internet before the trip. Dumai is small town, in a couple of minutes we were in place. The owner of the establishment met the guest neutrally: was already used to such visitors. Having allocated a small room with a spring mattress, he offered to take a break from the road.

Mr Muchsin, English teacher and his family (Dumai)

For two days I rested up, fearing the return of the disease, only a couple of times I went out into the street: the owner was heading to his boss on a motorcycle and drove me to the canteen (the food of the “trainee” — at his own expense), the second time I went for a walk himself. The strange tradition of Indonesians to shout in English “mister” or “hey mister” toward a foreigner on the street acted on the nervous system shattered after an illness. The average native stubbornly considers all strangers to be "English", and it is difficult to convince him otherwise. Later, having learned the phrase “I am Russian, don’t speak English” in the local language, used it to protect himself from importunity.

Everyday life of a rural teacher Edit

There were several groups: very small ones came during the day, and older ones — in the evening. It was my duty to ask something, addressing each person personally, then answer the questions of "students"— that's what pupils are called here. I spoke with the "daytime" group using simple phrases, with the "evening" group — putting meaning into it. For example, having asked the guy which countries he would like to visit, I heard: “USA, England, and Germany…” The rest responded in the same vein. I remembered one case, let's return to the Crimean capital. An acquaintance, now a merchant, a former deputy director of the enterprise where I worked during the Soviet era, at the mention of the photo exhibition “On the roads of India” planned by me, suddenly began to describe ... how rich he adding that he had been to the America and Canada. But I'm a beggar and talked about else. The inhabitants of the third world consider a visit to prosperous countries to be something of a symbol of well-being, if one has traveled to those parts, life is a success, while the Germans, French and British can be found in the African wilderness.

English lesson (Dumai)

To the question: “Do you like living here?” the “students” shyly answered: “I don’t know…” And one of the older groups outdo to their “teacher”. After Muchsin reassured: "Don't worry, there are only three guys who speak like English people, the rest are dumb."

One day the owner of the school showed me his collection of banknotes: all the bills were left by my predecessors. I was surprised to see a Mongolian banknote: "Has a Mongolian been here, too?" The citizens of this godforsaken country are even less inclined to traveling than Ukrainians.

Head out of the sand! Edit

After spending two days in a school-apartment, I decided that it was time to part with the ostrich habit and move on: the city is so gray and featureless that it is difficult to find an object even for a newspaper and reportage photograph. Shared the idea with the owner. He agreed. Two more groups, questions and answers, and that's it — the practice is over. On the eve of departure, I spoke with the motorcyclist who brought me. The guy confirmed that hitchhiking is possible, adding that he himself resorted to such a method.

I stocked up on a bottle of water from the store, said goodbye to the family, and crouched on the back of the bike, pulling on my helmet and backpack. Muchsin dropped me off outside the city, on a narrow, dusty road, indicating the direction of the way. Feeling like a chick that has lost its shell, I set to work. The truck drivers were stare at the stranger with surprise, and sometimes with a smile, but they did not stop. I looked once again at the "travel sheet" written out for me by an Indonesian teacher. The first section of the journey is two hundred kilometers, the whole road consists of eight such parts. By bus, it is overcome without transfers, but not by hitchhiking...

The truck driver slowed down. I picked up my backpack and went to it, trying not to forget the memorized phrase...

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