Siberian MASTERS

The following poems, stories, essays and book report were written by Philology MA students at Novosibirsk State University. The poems were written as an assignment to explore 50’s poet Frank O’Hara’s “I do this, I do that” style. The other themed pieces were inspired by a series about the generation gap by Millennials from around the world in Newsdecoder.com. There is one book review and the rest….inspired by the clutter of life and dreams.

Poems, Essays and a Book Review

  1. The path through the pines…(a poem) by Alex Shabaldin
  2. Jobs (an essay) by Maria Loshkova
  3. Sitting on a beach on the Mediterranean (a poem) by Katya Kichigina
  4. A Day (an essay) by Irina Opryshko
  5. Farenheit 451 (a book review) by Natasha Vladikova
  6. Being Heroes (a poem) by Maria Loshkova
  7. A Dream (a story) by Daria Kuznetsova
  8. I have no idea why..(a poem) by Irina Oryshko
  9. Trip to India (an essay) by Natasha Vladikova

Generation Gap Essays

  1. It’s only 6 AM but I am already looking at the screen of my super-fast Pentium II personal computer. by Alex Shabaldin
  2. Three Questions by Daria Kuznetsova
  3. The Sitting Generation by Katya Kichigina
  4. What is so special about being the young, new generation in Russia? by Irina Oryshko
  1. The path through the pines…(a poem) by Alex Shabaldin

The bike is a part of my body. We’re two components of a fail-safe mechanism, 
 like
 a cat and a tail,
 a pen and a paper,
 the Sun and the Earth.

We’re taking the path through the pines. The sunset’s chasing us from our front.
 It’s shining horizontally,
 crawling the soil,
 making the colors contrast;
 gifting a halo effect to the titanic pines,
 that resemble a colonnade
 of an ancient temple 
 hidden at the edge of another world.

We’re streaming the path through the pines. The storm’s chasing us from our back. 
 It smells like the freedom itself.
 It’s shooting us with its drops,
 lifting dust and foliage into the sky,
 destroying all the bad
 news, thoughts, feelings, dreams.

The downhill!
 Long and Smooth!
 My mysterious 21 grams are leaving me.
 They are an airplane, taking off the ground! 
 They are a seagull, realizing the sense of its wings! 
 They weight 21 universes!
 And each of them is covering me with their endlessness.
 And I’m feeling it.

I’m reaching the high, rocky coast…

***

When I was a kid, there was no time. 
 I didn’t counted seconds, days, months. 
 I counted joys, griefs, imaginations, wonders, puzzles. 
 I stood before the eternity, 
 feeling it with every particle of my unconsciousness.

I’ve lost it.

Now I’m returning home from the coast.
 The summer night is cooling down and
 the blazing town is beneath my wheels.
 I’m cutting it.
 And it’s becoming ripples on water.

I think about the catharsis I had at the forest: 
 about a subtle but forceful moment of happiness,
 about a short-run recovery of infant perception, 
 about a feeling of appreciation of our magic, 
 wonderful, 
 wise 
 and colossal 
 universe.

I’m realizing that this very moment is what we live for! 
 We live to find it again and again.
 To stretch it and jump into it.
 To revive 
 what we have lost.

***

The bike is a part of my body.
 We’re two components of a fail-safe mechanism.
 We’re streaming the path through the pines.

Technopark Akademgorodok

2. Jobs (an essay) by Maria Loshka

I do not have A job, I have three jobs. The last three days were supposed to be holidays but not for me because one of my jobs is team building instructor. As an instructor, I work at corporate parties so they are useful for the companies. If a firm wants its workers to be a real team, we are there to help! This Saturday we conducted a challenge for an IT company in Akademgorodok and it was really fun! I love this job because it’s a great chance to communicate with people, have fun with them and get a lot of positive emotions. It is also well-paid and that is important for me. You get paid to have a great time, that’s what I call magic!

My second job is tutoring; I teach people English. I work mostly with children ages 14–16 yrs. but I also have some older students. I chose this job because I think English is one of those things I can share with someone and it makes his or her life a little better. I am trying to visit my pupils less often, just 2 or 3 visits per week, because it is exhausting to travel from one student to another and it takes too much time. I can always rely on this job, I know that whatever happens I can find some pupils and improve their English. If you don’t have any other way to make money, this is a good way to make a living.

My primary job is at an IT company in Akademgorodok but I have only been working there a month. My responsibilities include communicating with our foreign clients, solving problems with IT projects and redirecting these projects to our developers. I don’t feel confident there yet, but I try to do the best I can. The problem is that I haven’t ever worked in an office with a high level of responsibility and so far it is a bit scary. I hope I will become a specialist in my sphere and stay with the company as an experienced professional.

In summary, having more than one job is not bad at all if you love what you’re doing. That is certainly my situation. I love being active, improving my life and the world around me. I enjoy every minute I spend at my jobs. The key is to enjoy your life and all your activities and when I say “activities”, I include my studies at the University.

3. Sitting on a beach on the Mediterranean (a poem) by Katya Kichigina

So many people

Looking tired

From august heat.

Only some kids

Still shout and run

Along unbearably torrid beach.

I think of going home

But there’s no need

And here I am,

Alone,

Sitting in sand,

I watch The Mediterranean Sea turned red.

That is the exact color

Of their bloody flag.

A bright crescent and star

Drowning in pain

And beauty of the victories of Great Empire…

They killed and died

For Allah.

Today

They have tourism,

Mass riots

And a broken dream.

Perhaps,

These lusty glances,

Smell of fried lamb

And women’s long and dirty skirts with flower prints

Are same today?

I stand. I walk

To my hotel

Trying to save it all in memory,

Their speech, the colors,

And a taste of garlic wurst,

That seemed so terrible at first.

4. A Day (an essay) by Irina Opryshko

I adore the days when there is no counting time.

This is typical for a person who is lonely. You have no chores to be done before breakfast time, no need to wake other members of your family, you do not have to rush to the supermarket to buy a bottle of milk to make an omelet. You realize that your family is 200 miles away and they got used to living without you since you have been away for five years. If all you have is yourself, will you take care of yourself then?

I spent several sleepless nights and can’t even remember what supernatural power woke we me. Lights on, of course. I drag myself to the switch and the room is half dark, at last. It’s seven in the morning; in February still the blue hours before dawn. The many storied house outside my window becomes slightly visible, as well as the iced branches of frozen pines. A coniferous desert. It’s time to turn on the laptop to assuage my every day hunger for music. Hmm, what do we have today? Badfinger? Perfect, don’t forget to look at their biography.

Musical Interlude: Sweet Tuesday Morning, Carry on Till Tomorrow (Badfinger)

Jesus. I have never heard of such an unlucky band. My feelings are the same as when I first read about Lennon’s death. A cognitive dissonance: you see a mop topped guy with velvet eyes and a shy voice who shot himself dead because of tense relationships in his band and financial machinations by their manager. Two more of the guys shared his fate. It is incredible to be able to make people feel your aliveness throughout countless years.

It was the time when, according to common knowledge, British people have their 5 o’clock drink. I grabbed my new (actually quite ancient) Lignatone guitar, that was made by some Czech guys in the beginning of the 70s, and head towards the ninth dormitory. This is a legendary dorm for geologists. My friends invited me to their place to see if it is possible to combine a semi-acoustic guitar with a disassembled karaoke mic. By the time I reached their room I realized I had never known what a merry life was. Passing through cigarette clouds and the pre-holiday noise of my friend’s neighbors I finally rushed into the room that was my destination. I found two guys there singing Kino’s songs (‘Good Morning, the Hero Survived’) resonating to the rap sound waves floating in from the neighboring room. One more boy came in and we started to try different ways to connect the mic to the sounding board or to the f-holes. I am sure we achieved unprecedented feats of engineering that evening. We fused a plastic cover to keep the switch on the f-hole using a knife heated by a stove, we repaired the torn-off wires with a soldering iron and finally twisted the insulation tape around them. Insulation tape is a magical Russian tool, it works on everything. We even tried toothpicks to keep the switch from moving and almost built a bridge on the guitar.

- And what was the result?

We attached the mic and it started to work BUT, I am going to have to work for two months to buy an acoustic sound receiver. Still, I don’t regret anything.

5. Farenheit 451 (a book review) by Natasha Vladikova

It is hard to imagine what things were like back in those days when even a radio was a miracle. What were people like? What did they think about? How did they behave? What was important to them? No doubt all this light speed technology development was meant to bring joy and happiness and ease into our lives. But the average human being, who could not bear this immense burden, broke and opted for ignorance, laziness and a lack of personal opinion. Such people are puppets that the government is looking for.

Ray Bradbury is very concerned with this issue and lets it flow in his dystopian Fahrenheit 451. His style is a hurricane that takes you up, twirls you, pushes you into Montag’s head and back again hundreds of times. You are not a reader anymore, you are the main character, you are Montag. You are remembering the Bible, you are chased, you are escaping, afraid but ready to die every minute. You are full of hope and desire and endurance to wait for the right time to disclose you precious knowledge. You possess the strength to doubt and to follow what you believe is true. To revolt against the totalitarian government that imposes false values.

Ray Bradbury wrote the book in the fifties but the metaphor is still perfectly applicable today. Reading a book is not considered a rest or a nice pastime any more. It is hard work and it requires some time to restore your energy after you have finished. Nowadays the government doesn’t even have to put any effort into destroying books. People willingly refuse them for the ready-to-consume ideas of the social networks. And it seems even more apocalyptic.

6. Being Heroes (a poem) by Maria Loshkova

Being heroes

People just love to create

lots of problems

Especially women, you know

Even when everything is

All right out there

There are bloody hurricanes

in our minds

But there is an interesting

question besides all the

reasons “why”

Why can people create all

these problems

And still cannot create

any joy?

Maybe we just love

being unhappy

Maybe it’s dull to be calm

But why don’t we make

any happiness

Out of nowhere

Just for fun?

I guess being happy

seems too easy for us

We need to fight our

fears every moment

Just to feel alive

Just to feel being needed

Just to feel like heroes

7. A Dream (a story) by Daria Kuznetsova

I had a dream where I saw a world that I call “Computer Game” with battles and attempts to save my life. I understood that I am a prisoner that escaped from custody and that I have a goal, to find someone who will help me know the rules and laws of this world.

I run and run and never stop, because I think that I am being chased. It is difficult because I have to go through a forest without any light or torch. After a few minutes, I fall in a hole and skin my hands until they bleed. Suddenly it occurs to me that the world around me is unreal and I can do anything I want. Then, something strange appears in front of my face. A white thing with a red cross, it looks like a medicine chest but bigger and composed of pixels. One part of me says that someone wants me to be alive until the end of this Game and advises me not to have any doubts about taking the medicine. Another side of me says not to take it and escape from this hole. I hear a loud noise, something is chasing me but I do not move. I sit on the cold ground and try to make a good decision. Finally, it comes to me with the help of a low male voice that is close to me. He said, “Do not take it, it is a trap. Hurry up, they are already here”. I cannot resist, I gather my last strength and climb out.

A bright light shines in my eyes and I feel heat next to me. It is a fire. All the trees are in flames and if I do not run I could be the next victim. It seems as if the fire is following me, but at the same time it shows me where to run. A narrow road leads me, I do not see the possibility for a rescue but at the same time I do not have a minute to think. The best way is to trust the fire and to keep running.

After a few moments, I see a trailer that looks like an ambulance but without any identification signs. I open the door without hesitating, turn a key that was already in the ignition, and step on the pedal. The car increases its speed every second and it seems as if the danger has receded.

Finally, the blazing forest is behind me and I decide to stop the trailer and look at what I have stolen. I ask myself, “Should I return this car ?”

A young man with an oxygen mask on his face is lying behind the driver’s seat. He has black hair and pale skin. He has the same clothes as me and even the same number on the right side of his chest — №2342.

Suddenly the male voice appears again and I turn around, “You should not escape, you took a chance with his life”. Three tall men are standing behind me and one of them offers his hand.

“Come with us, we will help you and this guy”…

That was the moment I woke up.

8. I have no idea why..(a poem) by Irina Oryshko

I have no idea why

Russian criminal-looking guys remind me

Of Thom Yorke.

Well, one of them puts an ink stamp mark

On my right hand.

Sitting late at night

At the tiny club,

Not a fab pastime.

Found my seat next to the chaotic mess

Of obviously drunk girl, dancing.

They go twisting, shaking,

Even tango-moving; it looks obscene.

I realize they’re burning.

Their spines and waists resemble

Campfire flames.

A girl onstage seems to like

Loud shouting, thus encouraging

People to order one more drink.

Lack of fresh air, being sober

Is like looking through fingerprinted glass.

Schade! My organism’s too choosy

To let alcohol in.

No Thom Yorke

To give me a pass

To this reckless self-forgetting.

9. Trip to India (an essay) by Natasha Vladikova

I have visited several countries, each of them impressed me in a different way and somehow changed my world outlook. I realize now that you should not draw conclusions about people of other nationalities if you have never communicated with them or been to their country.

I was 18 when I first decided to go abroad. I was a member of a student organization called AIESEC that arranges international internships for students. Unfortunately, the list of countries to visit was not very long and such popular destinations as Western Europe or the USA were missing. The top three countries on the list were China, India and Brazil so I had to choose between them. I crossed out Brazil because it was too far away for a first foreign travel experience and the tickets were incredibly expensive. China and India are very nice countries and I respect their cultures but I was never interested in them. On my personal “top list of places to go”, India and China occupied the last two places respectively. That is why I decided to choose the lesser of two evils and went to India.

There are a few reasons why I did not try to find another program with more options. First, this program was very cheap. Secondly, I was a member of the AIESEC organization and it was a matter of honor to try the product we were selling. Finally, I was looking for a professional internship and these were the most convenient.

So, I went to India all alone. When I exited the airport I was shocked because it was surrounded by nothing but slums, dirt and poor people. I was not ready for this and my first thought was to go to the airport, change the ticket and go back home immediately. I am glad I didn’t because the trip turned out to be an amazing experience.

After the shock at the airport, I summoned up my courage and went to the place that became my home for the next two months. It was a city near Mumbai called Pune (or Poona). When I arrived I had a rough period of adaptation. Then I saw how incredible the place was. Several things helped me realize this. I lived in a big house with nice people from all over the world. I learned some interesting things about their cultures and told them about mine. I made a lot of friends that I stay in touch with. Also, I worked in a pre-school with lovely Indian children who were very different from Russian children. Finally, I had a chance to explore Indian culture. I tried their food, saw how they celebrate holidays, their daily life, how they communicate with each other and with foreigners and how rich their culture is.

Indians are not perfect, nobody is. The moral is simple, do not judge people and their culture before you get to know them.

Generation Gap Essays

  1. It’s only 6 AM but I am already looking at the screen of my super-fast Pentium II personal computer. by Alex Shabaldin

It’s only 6 AM but I am already looking at the screen of my super-fast Pentium II personal computer. I’ve just linked to the Internet through a dial-up modem. Finally, after listening to painfully familiar sounds produced by a telephone monster, I can start searching for a picture. My classmate Sasha turns eleven today and I want to give him a self-made postcard. I launch “paint” and cut out the head of my friend from a scanned photo. Now I must find a picture of the most beautiful car on the whole Internet to place his head just near the steering wheel. Black Ford Mustang Shelby gt500. Good choice. I click the download button. In 2016, I wouldn’t even notice that any downloading is taking place. But now, in 2003, I need to wait for about a minute. “AGAIN?” Oops. Did you hear it? It sounds like that was the voice of my mum/mom. I hear her fast and angry steps. Finally, she opens the door,

“It’s only 6 AM, and you’re already sitting behind the screen and straining your eyes!”

“But…”

“I can’t even use a phone because of your Internet!”

“Sasha…”

“I don’t need your excuses. Give me the power cable.”

Yeah. It appears that Sasha won’t get a postcard this birthday.

The generation gap problem wasn’t born today, or in the XX century, or even earlier. For instance, Socrates said, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” Among the children Socrates was talking about were Plato and Aristotle. Nevertheless, before the XX century this problem wasn’t as severe because different generations in Russia were more or less similar. But, in 1914 the First World War began. Some years after that Russia was shaken by another catastrophe. Billions of people were wiped out by the grim flood of the Civil War. Children who were born after these disasters, in a new country called the Soviet Union, were drastically different from the people born in the Russian Empire. How could these generations understand each other? When these very children grew up they experienced the Red Terror years and the Second World War. And how could these men of steel understand their children who were born in peacetime and, entering universities, tried to catch rare wafts of liberty. Then, the only Russian generation that has a nickname appeared. It’s called the Pepsi generation. These young people betrayed the ideals of communism and, looking to the West and using the first digital devices, stood for Yeltsin in 1993. No doubt, their parents brought up within the socialist system couldn’t understand them. Finally, we, the Millennial Generation, have arrived. We who are dot-com crazy, who are not able to put our gadgets away. Who can understand this?

Global shocks and technological progress insure that each new generation will be born into an utterly different world. That’s why the generation gap problem has been becoming a very complicated problem as time goes and goes by.

P.S I saw what young teenagers watch on YouTube. They are so stupid!

2. Three Questions by Daria Kuznetsova

Time moves forward, and everything changes — climate, atmosphere, technology and people. Adults always look at the youth and say that their childhood was different, that now young people don’t value the important things. We can see this effect in every country and in every family where there are young people and grandparents. This thing is called the generation gap.

Why does a generation gap appear? The answer is clear, because every generation lives in different conditions and the speed of our lives becomes faster every day. For example, our parents didn’t have smartphones and many gadgets that we have now. They understand their importance OR consider them important, but at the same time they don’t use them and tell us that we are wasting our time using new technology so much. When there is a misunderstanding between generations, we can see the gap between them.

The second question is how many generations do we have in Russia? I can’t answer this accurately because I have never thought about it. If someone asked me to do a chart or to list the generations, I would list the following: the Revolutionary Generation, the Second World War Generation, the Cold War Generation, the “Rebuilding” Generation and the New Generation. They all capture different periods of time and, of course, different life conditions. I can also say that every generation lived in better conditions than the previous generation. All these generations had different goals such as finding the right form of government, protecting our country and our people, to be the first in space and in the world and to have enough money to live. Of course the values were different.

What about the New Generation? We didn’t experience the battles or great wars. In our time science and medicine are in good condition. Sometimes we forget about the price our forefathers paid for our future. Maybe that’s why we have films like “We Are From the Future” or “Mist” that show us our generation. I can’t say if our generation is good or bad because we don’t show our potential yet. In the future our descendants will judge us.

The generation gap problem will always exist because everything changes. I don’t want to choose the best generation, each of them was brilliant with good people and important events. We must remember the past because no past, no future.

3. The Sitting Generation by Katya Kichigina

I strongly believe that the younger generation has an extremely hard life, but the issue is they don’t understand what their real problem is.

I often hear my friends talk about misunderstandings with their parents. “My parents don’t care how I combine work and study. They think my boss gives me a one hour lunch break as if we are still in the socialist world”, “Mother wants me to get up at 7 on Sunday, but I can’t. Where does she get her energy at 50?”, etc. This is what we call a generation gap, a new time comes along with new people who have a different world outlook and values.

Let’s not talk about economic and political factors because everyone knows they can make one’s life miserable. There is a big problem with self-identification. Who are we? How should we solve our problems and fight for our rights? What kind of future are we going to create? We have no answers to these questions and we don’t even try to find them!

Recently I read a psychology article written by the famous Russian psychotherapist Vladimir Levi. The author notes that the greatest difference between the older and younger generations is that young people are very inactive nowadays, “This is a new kind of man — the sitter. He sits in front of the computer screen all day long. He forgot how it is to use his body for jumping, walking, moving… He is not just physically lazy — his mind and soul never move”.

That makes me think of my everyday “feat”, walking alone. Staying inside for a long time is hard for me but I usually can’t find anyone who will join me on this 40 minute trip. People say they are too tired or can’t stand the cold. I think Internet is an amazing thing, I love to watch movies and search social networks, but there are some worrying signs that we are trapped. Firstly, our health and mood depend on walking, moving, breathing fresh air. The lack of it can explain depression, sleep disorders and fatigue. Secondly, there is a huge distinction between the number of friends on your list and real friends. That is what social nets do for us, create the illusion of being together. Lastly, we are used to consuming information without thinking about it and we lose a lot of time reading and watching unnecessary things.

That is the reason I have borrowed the term, the Sitting Generation, to characterize people my age who spend all their time in front of screens. Now, to return to my starting point, I argue that young people do not understand the degree of damage caused by the “sitting” life. This way of life seems natural to them.

Another interesting question, what makes us choose the Internet instead of real communication and life? This virtual space has great power but we should stop sitting in front of computers and watching someone else’s life. It’s time to look at ourselves. I hope that one day this generation of “sitters” will finally get up and go for a walk.

4. What is so special about being the young, new generation in Russia? by Irina Oryshko

What is so special about being the young, new generation in Russia? Surprisingly, the challenges in communication with older (and older older) generations are obvious and never change.

- Why are you not wearing a hat? It is only zero degrees! (“- Granny, I don’t even know you!”);

- When you grow up… (“- Are we familiar now?”);

- You are going be become blind with all your gadgets! (“-But, Mom!”).

There is a standard list of expressions that characterize the relationships between different age groups in Russia. Anyone can see there is little agreement between a supervisor (even a stranger) and a subordinate youngster, this has been going on for years. You can expect to hear a partly rhetorical exclamation when you behave in a way that contradicts adults’ ideas about your life. What’s more, you cannot just ignore them unless you want to be offensive. Welcome to collectivist Russia, son!

In a collectivist country, it is typical to be judged by anyone who is older than you are. But does it create a conflict or a gap between generations?

In relation to the generation theory, a gap between generations is mostly described as depending on differences in values, key events, types of common reaction (to social roles, critics, etc.). The situations described above have nothing to do with this theory. Still, the division of generations into certain groups (the Greatest Generation, Millennials) remains almost the same.

On the one hand, we have approximately the same stages of social dynamism in Russia. We cannot ignore the dramatic influence of such global events as the two world wars in the 20th century and the Cold War on people. As one of the largest countries, Russia lost the most victims. Even though many countries participated in the world wars, even though there are always heroes in all the countries, I consider the Russian 20th century generations as being one “Greatest Generation” for the period between the Russian-Japanese war and up to Perestroika. The century itself turned out to be extremely unbearable for my country with the Great Revolution, the Power Shift and the Soviet Union falling apart. People had to overcome unbelievable fear, hunger and poverty. This all resulted in the construction of several chronological generations together.

On the other hand, the stages described by Howe and Strauss can be applied to Russia but they do not match the 20 year duration period. Taking into account the internal factors of historical development, we can say that no strict division between people in their 20s and people in their 40s can be drawn. In other words, every country has its own path; what is characteristic of the USA cannot fit Russia perfectly.

Finally, all of us are the never-ending offspring and inheritors of our parents’ character features. We not only represent a brand new generation with the label “Millennials”, or whatever, we also continue our parents’ story.