This afternoon Josh and I headed to the post office in Krasnoyarsk, in order to send off a ream of obligatory postcards. After looking up the word for postcard we were still struggling to get our thoughts across, until a fellow customer piped up and offered his services to us, in perfect English. ‘What occasion are you after lads?’ ‘Erm, no occasion really, just a couple of postcards of local scenery to send home.’ ‘Will these do?’ ‘Are they of Krasnoyarsk?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Great, we’ll take them then.’ ‘That’ll be 45 roubles, please pay the lady.’ ‘Thanks for all your help.’ ‘No problem.’ This chap was quite clearly a hero, and I for one didn’t want to undermine his good work by highlighting the fact that none of the postcards seemed to bare any resemblance to our surroundings, immediate or otherwise.
After boarding the train this evening we were delighted to find that the people sleeping on the bottom bunks, and therefore making up our open ‘compartment’ were an elderly lady and her grandson, sure to be peaceful and benign travelling companions; remarking on our good luck, we tucked into a celebratory feast of instant noodles before turning in for the night. After initially struggling to get off to sleep in the furnace that passed for our train, I eventually managed to drop off, only to be awoken a short while later by a cacophony of pings and beeps which made me think that we were being invaded by hostile forces. No such luck, as it turned out that the grandson (who can’t have been more than seven) was playing a game on his mobile phone, with the volume turned up to full. I tried issuing an icy stare, but when this and the subsequent ‘ssshing’ were ignored, I had no choice but to leap from my bunk, tap him lightly on the leg, and explain via the medium of mime that it was half past one in the morning, and would he mind ever so much if he shut the hell up. This seemed to do the trick, as he gingerly put down the phone, allowing me to get back to sleep. Sadly it wasn’t to last, as once more I was awoken from my slumber by a tinny orchestra of maddening proportions. I tried another ‘sshh’, but this time whilst he did put down the phone he proceeded to wake his grandmother and start moaning in that high-pitched voice, so characteristic of ‘spoilt little brats’, before picking up his phone and deciding to play an even louder game. Fearing a social welfare incident I simply let him get on with it, silently plotting the behavioural traits of my own children whilst I tracked his quest for a new high score, one painful bleep at a time.