My wife gained maternal experience, the child grew a little, the countries they let us into were decided, and I accepted the offer to go to the Minsk book exhibition … I wanted to insert “with joy” – but no, there was no joy, rather, excitement, a kind of solemnity, which I remember was born before my first trips, in 2002 to Berlin, in 2004 in Paris. Then invitations to Cairo, Cuba, Beijing were taken for granted. But a break of just over three years was enough to get excited.
Terminal C, which, as I discovered while searching the internet, opened after reconstruction in January 2020, struck me with its scale, size and, unfortunately, its desert. Of the two dozen control frames, one worked, of an even larger number of passport control booths – five at most. Exotic Tsingtao, Malé, Cayo Coco were on the departure board (or were before, but I didn’t notice)… Among European destinations west of Russia, I found only Belgrade and Minsk.
I found myself in the departure area well in advance, sure that a smoking room had been opened in Terminal C. But it turned out that you can only smoke in the business lounges, where you can become a invited by paying two thousand rubles with something.
The plane to Minsk was full (and, as I noticed, there were several flights there), just as from Minsk two days later people were moving. They move in the currently available directions.
I remembered that a few years ago I flew to Yekaterinburg, where I live, from Paris. The transfer was Sheremetyevo. The plane was delayed in Paris, and I was seriously late for the Moscow-Yekaterinburg flight. I ran to passport control, started heading towards the stand with the border guard. I was challenged by an employee of the airport: “Are you from Paris? – “Yes yes!” – “Take your time. You are sixty, they won’t fly away without you.” And it was the night from Sunday to Monday. And a thought came to mind: “The people of Sverdlovsk flew to France for the weekend.” It seemed like such an easy walk. Not for many, of course, but now for no one…
I have already been to Belarus. The last time was in 2016, also at the Minsk Book Fair. Then (looked on the Internet) 29 countries participated. Russia was strongly represented, but the stands of Lithuania, Poland and Finland did not less arouse the interest of visitors.
This year, about two dozen flags flew in front of the exhibit hall. There were no state symbols of the Baltic countries, Western Europe – only Germany. (However, the program indicated that it was not Germany itself that was participating, but that country’s Christian literature publishing house.)
Russia’s stand was located in the center of the show – this year she was the guest of honor. Publishers brought quite a few books that could be purchased. This happened rarely – potential readers, for example, in Cairo or Paris, for example, came to look for books from our country, but did not have the opportunity to buy them.
In addition to Russia, India, China, Turkey, North Korea, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Cuba took part… Basically, they were modest enclosures with tourist booklets , dictionaries and works of Heads of State. The Brazil stand was mostly empty, but, I hope, because all the books and brochures when I arrived (and I didn’t attend on day one) were taken down by visitors to the exhibition.
Many events took place, at least my schedule for speaking and attending roundtables was tight – there was no time left for presentations and the like at other booths. But I heard foreign speech, amplified through loudspeakers, so the exhibit seemed to live a life of its own (given the conditions of the past few years).
Famous Russian writers came to Minsk. I won’t mention their names – not everyone wants posters now, even if they participate in certain events. Let me say that the conversation was almost always frank, the questions from the audience were lively and sometimes painful.
Even if the main theme was literature. And modern Russian literature is known in Belarus, some writers had long autograph sessions. It can only make you happy.
On the other hand, the holiday atmosphere was not felt. However, communication is not always festive.
We were able to walk in the evening.
< p class="">Minsk is a city of avenues. Expanse, openness, lots of sky. There are many people on the quays of Svisloch, on the avenue of Independence. The old town is picturesque and colorful. Only now is the famous red church in the center closed and sealed. As I found out, last fall there was a fire there (although it looks like it wasn't just a fire). Once I visited the church, and it struck me with its unusual brilliance for Catholic churches...
By the way… For the first time I visited Belarus as a student. We came with a classmate to Vitebsk and had a big feast for a very modest sum in rubles. Now prices are biting, and the Belarusian ruble is slightly lower than the euro. I don’t know about salaries, but restaurants like KFC are full in the evening. (Just in case, instead of “McDonald’s” now in Belarus – “We’re open”; I can’t judge the quality, as I dined with potato pancakes and blood sausage.)
The plane from Minsk landed at Terminal B in Sheremetyevo, and checking my passport, unlike the one at the exit, took a few seconds. And there were no other difficulties, in my opinion. Maybe because … I was going to write, “because Belarus is a rather conditional foreigner”, but I will not write – time is difficult: some borders, recently also apparently quite conditional, are closing, d ‘others are completely transferred hundreds of kilometers. But Minsk remains one of the few places west of Moscow where planes fly directly.
Read the full version on the portal Year of RF Literature
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