Stories

Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov

by Jorge Sanchez - 4 years, 1 month ago

My first experience in Ulyanovsk was very negative. I arrived late in the night to the railway station and, as usual, looked for accommodation in the station, the cheapest place, where they use to charge from 300 to a maximum of 500 rubles for a bed in a dormitory. They sent me to an annexed block where there was a hostel at cheap prices, but the woman in the reception did not accept me arguing that I was a foreigner. I was astonished. During Soviet Union times there were hotels where foreigners were not allowed, that is true, and even today in many “obshejitels”, or communal dormitories, mainly for students, they do not accept foreigners. But in the present times many things have changed in Russia, and now foreigners pay the same price in trains and airplanes. But Perestroika has not yet arrived to Ulyanovsk, the birth place of Lenin. The lady in front of me had old ideas about no Russian customers; for her I was a chushesemets” (foreigner). After discussing for a while with her, I gave up and entered the waiting room in the railway station to spend the night on the benches. The militias asked me the documentation twice, and also my railway ticket, then they let me sleep until 6 AM. Since Ulyanovsk downtown was far away from the railway station (so I was told, although in the way back to the station I would walk), I took a tramway to the centre. I asked to the passengers where the most interesting part of the town to descend was. One told me the tramway stop close to the River Volga, another one in the Main Square and a third advised me to visit the house/museum where Lenin was born. I listened to the third passenger and got off in a hilly street, where I read a sign saying that the area was a kind of cultural and traditional park with several museums. I paid for my ticket in the museum and joined a group of Russian tourists with a guide who explained, one by one, the rooms of the house and then the garden. Outside there were many buses filled with more Russians waiting to visit that museum, which is it is still very popular among Russians, nostalgic people, mainly old, who dislike the present life system in Russia, and instead or “demokratia”, in Russian, they say “dermokratia” (better I do not translate you the meaning!). Some of the tourists in that museum looked externally like Lenin, with his same cap, his clothes and the same goatee. I cannot have sympathy for somebody who implanted with a coup d’état a foolish ideology that brought so much sorrow to Russia and the rest of the countries of the old Soviet Union, apart of the creation of hundreds of the infamous Gulags where so many millions of innocent people perished in a cruel way, the horror murder of the Tsar family in Yekaterinburg, the destruction of so many churches and other religious buildings, plus the one hundred millions of deaths during its about 70 years of existence, where people lived like in a jail. But since Lenin is, nevertheless, an historical personage, I felt the obligation to visit his museum as a cultural act, but with much indifference, and rather as an observer of the tourists’ behavior that visited it. After that indifferent visit I walked up Lenin Street until a main square with a pleasant view over the Volga River. After having lunch in a restaurant close to the main square (I ordered shashliks and a beer Baltika 7) I asked the people in the street for the cathedral and a young man answered me if I was aware of the place I was visiting: Ulyanovsk, the place where Lenin was born, so it was impossible to rebuilt the orthodox cathedral that existed in that town when it was called Simbirsk, a city founded in the XVII century. When the communist was established, the orthodox cathedral was destroyed and the city named Ulyanovsk after Lenin family name (his full name was Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov). Not far from the square I even saw a bust representing the father of Lenin, and a few block farther, in a central street, I noticed a pretty cross remembering that the cathedral had been destroyed by the Communists. I still visited many other places in Ulyanovsk, among them the house where was born the XIX century novelist Ivan Goncharov (Oblomov is his best known novel). When darkness fell, I walked until the train station and bought a train ticket to Samara.


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