Our partner in Samara works in downtown just a step from the mythical river Volga that is nearly as wide as St-Laurent in Quebec. After Ukraine and its capital Kiev that looks like a major European capital, this time it was about going back to the source of the Russian hinterland, the one that doesn’t make any concessions. Beginning with Sergei the taxi driver whose mockery and black humor put me quickly in context.
Like the rest of Russia, the region’s growth seems to be temporarily affected by the ruble crisis; however, the growth is obvious. Huge shopping malls are situated along the principal highway running parallel to the Volga; this highway is a congested artery, as Sergei says. You need sometimes two hours to enter or leave the city. Almost everywhere I see signs of beauty shops glittering in the dark of the falling night; it’s a sure sign…
“Women in Samara are the most beautiful in Russia,”- Sergei assures with confidence. The reason is that the Russian Empress Catherine II was sending there in exile all the metropolitan Russian beauties who could compete with her.
When in Samara, you should learn to command respect because life is hard here as elsewhere; however, local women still keep the Russian feminine aspect that always deeply touches me.
“Man must behave as a man and know how to make decisions” – Yana and her friend would tell me with confidence as we are walking around the city struck by freezing cold.
I’m touched. These Russian women demand men to be strong, virile and able to make decisions.
I feel comforted and reassured. What a delight to feel this support and this encouragement!
They look smiling at each other and tell me mischievously: “Nothing is better for us, Russian women than feeling weak and protected by a strong man.”
All of this is surprising and unexpected. Yet I don’t see any weakness of character in these beautiful girls who are full of confidence and completely assume themselves as women. They are discussing among themselves in a universe that is theirs.
“It’s a women’s discussion,” – Alena explains me. “You don’t need to understand it because you are a man.”
Everything is so simple and transparent. Samara is a city of men and women, on the Volga riverside, at the heart of Russia. I let myself be carried away, I don’t feel being judged, I’m safe.