THE LONE BLACK IN ST PETERSBURG, ?? EP 10

THE FLIGHTS

….that we’d be at the airport in about 18minutes. At the first check point I was retained for a while. Why? My laptop was in my baggage. Where else should it be? In my hand or my hand luggage. I had to quickly do the switch. Flight at 16:25 and it was 15:30 when I arrived at the check-in counter. My bags are being weighed and there’s a problem. I need to move some items from the bigger bag to the smaller one. The attendants were friendly. They always are. When I straightened my back after bending for so long there was Nastya.

I was so happy and relieved to see her. Looking at her for the last time till we meet again sometime in the future was so hard but I had to fake a smile and fill this space up with happiness because she was sad, very sad and I couldn’t add up to that misery. We couldn’t possibly create a funeral out of this could we now?
I spent a while at the last security point and I had to give them almost all the IDs I had on me because, according to them, I didn’t look at all like the picture in my passport. While standing a few meters away in front of the counter, my glasses off, i watched 3 other personnels, all females, move in quick succession into the room within the space of about 10 minutes. The first personnel I met at the post looks at me and quickly into my passport, trying to make sense out of the two images. I had a hard time making out the expression on their countenances because I had to keep my glasses off my face while I looked into the camera and I couldn’t see a lot. After the third officer left I was given the nod and I moved through the gates to the final security point. When I got to my seat in the plane it was 16:22….whew! I made it! I said a prayer of gratitude and really, I couldn’t believe I actually made it. I took a mental flashback to the activities of the day before now and I almost shed tears. I really could have missed this flight. What if the guy with the snow shovel in hand wasn’t willing to help? What if he actually was but the driver arrived late? What if….? What if….?
I was truly grateful
We arrived late at DXB and I quickly took a bath, charged my gadgets and slipped into bed. When I woke up I saw the most beautiful thing. Something I’ve longed for these past weeks- a group of over 10 Ghanaians. They spoke Twi, Ewe, Fante, Ga. I felt at home, I smiled I laughed like I was gradually going crazy. I felt like a stranger and an indigene at the same time. Seeing them speak to one another with that love and care warmed my heart. It was great to see people create such beautiful camaraderie though most of them were meeting for the first time. I realized how much I had missed this then and my impatience grew even stronger- i just couldn’t wait to be home. I watched all the new movies I could on the flight, slept the most part because I really was tired. I looked at the screens keeping count as the clocked ticked slowly.


Then the announcement went that we’d be landing soon. Suddenly I felt I wanted to go back.
I texted Ato when the network on my phone got activated, (we had moved over PALACE MALL at this point). While at the baggage claim I was all smiles, and I felt some sort of joy and positive emotions I have never, ever, felt before my whole life. Few seconds after I moved throw the gates I was pleased to receive the only embraces I’d been yearning for. I wished I could just go home but I had school work to catch up on.

Ato

I felt at peace when I saw my bed.
And when menua baa texted that she’d cooked banku with okro and asked that I warm it a bit I just danced. I danced. I ate like I’d been starved for centuries. Food was good. I could swear I told my body I’d allow it rest the minute I got home but I was restless. I wanted to go everywhere. I wanted to see everyone. And so Kwaku drove us to see a few people and we attended institute in his stake which was awesome. I saw everyone again and it was lovely. I got back tired and still restless. I’m restless! I’m home!

THE LONE BLACK IN ST PETERSBURG, ?? EP 9

From 5th-9th February 2017

I scrutinized every single element at church today. As though I’ve never set eyes on them. As though those walls were unfamiliar to me and the rooms wasted, alien spaces. I savoured the sacrament. I sang the hymns with much joy, and sadness, and, somewhat, confusion. There’s no joy when any journey’s end is in sight. We seem to believe that once we get what we need all becomes well and the whole world is at peace. Unless you get to that end, you’d never know how miserable it is to realize what you always hoped, even prayed, for. For a while reality will need a bit of time to comfortably fit in with the flow you were used to, and then all will make sense shortly after.
It’s the first Sunday of the month so it’s  a Fast and Testimony Sunday. The testimonies of the members were so beautiful and heartfelt. I felt connected to their faith and joy and strength.

Impressions from the testimonies I heard

I got a new friend through another very great friend and we’ve been in great conversations. So most of my time from Monday till Thursday were occupied with this friend, a few books, music, enjoying my new phone and revising my dissertation.

On Thursday morning I woke up sad. I left the house with Oxana.

The last time I saw Oxanah

She had to go to work and I had to go to the post office to pick up a package for a family back home, and run errands for my sister,pick the metro back home and  go to the forex bureau. I got back an hour later than I had planned or anticipated. I had to fix those stuff into my baggage somehow and when by the time I was done I was panting, heavily.
I moved my bags downstairs and right after the gate automatically locked I realized how silly I had been. I should have stayed inside and ordered a taxi using the wifi network. Now I was outside the gates, and I almost felt I could help myself out by just shooting myself dead. Immediately i set eyes on one of the gentlemen who helps with snow clearing and removal in the area i said a prayer and walked towards him. In very few words and with the help of my translator he understood me and made an attempt to call a taxi for me which didn’t work out. He then approached two other men who came to the parking space to move their car and they helped us, actually me, out. He assured me that the taxi will be with me in 5 minutes and the taxi pulled right in front of my gate in exactly 5 minutes. I was so thankful. At this point I was getting so impatient. 7 minutes into the trip and Nastya was already at the airport waiting for me. 10 minutes into the journey and a part of me felt the driver was planning something fishy. To kidnap me maybe, or something worse. He was making calls all of a sudden and texting and driving simultaneously. I was terrified! I called Nastya and had her speak with him just so I feel safe. When I got my phone back she told me to…

THE LONE BLACK IN ST PETERSBURG, ?? EP 8

Yes I missed you all too
I have a new phone now. Yay! Can you guys believe I was using a Samsung galaxy pocket? Yes! I know that could be the first phone you bought or used. Whatever! I have a new phone now. And it’s kind of cool that i can type out posts right here from my phone. I’m just super excited and thankful that it all worked out in the end.

So what I’ve been up to lately is packing up my stuff a little each day. I have only 5 more days here in St Pete and I’m beginning to get all emotional each day.
I did my laundry two days ago, bought a few stuff for the homies (yes I’m sweet like that). Also, I’ve been enjoying the blessed scent from my two-month-old braids- it’s totally amazing.

I love it. I love it.
School has reopened and lectures have are already in session. So the thing is that throughout the vacation I kept thinking school was set to reopen within the first week of February. I have no idea why I believed that and I just didn’t check to be completely sure about that. I booked my flight within the second week of February. And I’ve missed a whole week of lectures already.

And hopefully I’m missing next week’s as well. Cheers to me!
I miss my family
I miss my friends

I miss my roommates
I miss my floor neighbors back in Mensah Sarbah Hall, my floor representative especially- a hardworking young lady! Kudos Angie!
And I miss my Hall president. Nii Kommey is just there to help anytime. Such a humble, determined and hardworking, and short gentleman ?
I just miss my room
And my bed
And my pillows
And my locker
I miss my hot plate and my self-designed kitchenette
I miss Ghana. I miss the food

In the next 5 days I’ll share with you what has been my source of strength throughout my stay here. It’s been fun, this journey, but it sure has not been easy
Till next time, LOVE YOURSELF, APPRECIATE OTHERS! ESSY SCRIPTS.

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP.7

25th January -31ST January

Boredom is getting the better side of me so I searched the nearest Rotary club and I got their address. fortunately, they meet today, at 7pm. I had over 5 hours to get prepared. I attended the meeting and came home glad that I had. The Rotarians of the St Petersburg Rotary Club were such jolly good fellows.

I loved the meeting and hey, their president is female ??- makes me miss Rabby so much (Rabby’s my Rotaract President back home in Ghana)

I did almost nothing on Thursday but to prepare for global village tomorrow. All interns of AIESEC meet to exhibit the culture and traditions of their homeland

Global village was a success.

I loved every bit of it. I came home tired.

 

I think I jumped around too much.

The most amazing character is on the swing

My whole day on Saturday was for rest. The whole of the day. It’s been a long 5 weeks of work and it’s finally over. I’m glad I gave it my best, my all.
Polina, my project manager, dropped by to give her farewell message. We had a little chat before she left. I’ll miss her greatly.

I missed church because I woke up late. I practically do not have any excuse because I could have chosen to go to bed earlier last night. So I stayed home doing nothing…the wi -fi isn’t working, we haven’t paid our bills yet. I finished up a book and did nothing else

Somewhere in the middle of the night my airtime got exhausted. When I woke up in the morning I felt no need to walk all the way to the metro station to recharge because I had already given Oxana some money to do that for me when she left home made night. so I stayed back and comforted my lazy head. At a point I felt i could just go downstairs and get someone to help me out but I was feeling lazy to do that even. And then KWAKU called. Now, KWAKU is a very special friend. These past weeks our friendship has grown in inconsiderable ways and I thank GOD daily for his life and wisdom. I felt it a great effort on his part to have called me just because he hadn’t seen me online the whole day and was worried. I told him why. So after the call, I felt ashamed and decided to go load my SIM card. I get to the spot where I keep my key only to realize it’s gone. I was so confused. I quickly checked all possible spots i could have placed it aside the usual, on top of the fridge, in the pockets of my jacket, my sweater, my backpack, the dining table…no trace of no key! ‘It couldn’t be that Oxana took both keys away, it’s never happened before’, I thought to myself in fear and deep worry. Now I could leave the door to our home unlocked, rush to go get airtime and quickly return home but there’s only one problem to this plan, I won’t be able to get through the gate on my way back home without my security pass which comfortably hangs on the key ring which happens to be MIA. So I put on my socks and stepped out of the room for the first time in two days ?(don’t judge me). I sat on the stairs waiting for someone to walk to the elevator so I could ask for help, at least to load my SIM card, and I was prepared to pay the kind person on the spot. No help came and I was feeling cold. I went in the room, my eyes on my flip flops. I opened the door, grabbed my sweater and wished the stare I gave it could do as much as help me recall where I had placed the stupid key. The stare didn’t help, neither did my anxieties. So I wore my sweater and a pair of woolen socks and took the stairs to the first floor. I sat on the staircase and waited in hope. Few minutes later I heard a beep from the security system. Alas! Someone was coming in. I moved towards the elevator to catch the person’s attention right on time. It was a man, he could be in his late 30s.
‘Uhm…English?’
‘Just a little’, he said with a kind smile. I smiled back.
‘I need you to send me some airtime from your card and I’ll pay you back the amount, please’, I said desperately
‘I don’t understand’, he said with a confused smile
I repeated the exact meaning of the words I had just said, this time in fewer words and with more gestures.
‘I don’t understand’
I tried to ask if he has a translator on his phone so I could type my words out but he didn’t quite get it So I thanked him and left for my seat. It was amusing that the only thing the man could say in English was ‘I don’t understand’. But maybe he knew more words, maybe he just couldn’t understand all the words I used…maybe
Another man came in, in his late 40s I suppose. He was more accommodating and could understand my message. He said he had no card on him and asked that I go to the service center near the metro station. I smiled and thanked him. On my way back to the second floor, I stood in silence on the staircase for a moment. With my eyes closed, my arms folded and my head bowed (just like I was taught in Primary class at church), I said a prayer. It was quick and solemn. I asked my Heavenly Father to help me out of this situation, to show me what to do. When I got back to the room I went to the kitchen and had something to eat. I got on the bed and watched a video I had already downloaded on Netflix. I took a nap and read the conversations I’d had with my friends and families the past two days. Some of these made me laugh, some made me smile. I looked through the pictures on my phone and deleted a few that were not of interest to me anymore. I played a memory video that have been created for me on my iPad, by my iOS, with photos and videos over the past 5weeks and I loved it. It was sweet (I’ll share that with you all when I’m in a better mood ??). I slept again after getting through the third chapter of LOVE IN LHASA. I tried to connect with Jama’s character yet all I felt for Di was pity-love doesn’t come so easily but he seems to think it should. When I woke up it was very late. I turned on and off the wi-fi hoping for a miracle. None came. I restarted my phone and checked my balance. I remembered I had given Oxana some money to get me airtime when she got to the station. My balance hadn’t been credited. I restarted my system and checked again, the balance hadn’t changed. I dialed a few of the service numbers on the SIM card to get through to customer service. I was very attentive to the options the operator would give so as to choose the immediate option on hearing ‘английский’- I was sorely disappointed. I tried other service numbers and finally got through to an agent.
‘English?’, I asked in desperation
‘нет’, the reply on the other side came, rather rudely, and then she hung up. I didn’t have much time to drool over this event but whenever you get to Russia, send me an email and I’ll let you know which network provider you should NEVER consider.
I tried another number and the agent told me I had dialed a wrong number. I tried severally and still got the same feed. After a while, I checked my balance and this time it was -5. Shortly after, I received a text informing me of charges for the calls I made to customer care, to be deducted immediately I recharged (again, I’ll be more than glad to help you choose a good service provider in Russia). I was so bored and frustrated at this point, I went to the bathroom and returned to the bedroom with nail lacquer. I painted my nails for the time in my entire life. At least something to bring me joy and fulfillment. I was so proud of myself. I found ways to get it to dry up without a smudge because i had to get to bed. It’s 11:37pm. I said my prayers and got to bed. I turned on the wi-fi and immediately, notifications trickled in. I was amazed, I thought this some sort of dreamy perception so I connected to the wi-fi on my phone and ‘yaaaaaasss’! Miracle! Yaaassssss! Too many messages, I replied a few. I texted Oxana and she had just realized she mistakenly took both her key and mine. She apologized and said she got down with a fever and gave me Masha’s address (Masha’s her best friend). She asked that I bring her medical documents and passport so she could call an ambulance in the morning to seek medical attention. I felt sorry that she wasn’t so well but I had to ask what happened to the money I gave her to recharge my account ?. She said she did just that and she was surprised I hadn’t received the airtime yet. I said it hadn’t come and asked if she paid for the wi-fi. she had said she’d pay that later because she was down on cash (I was too). She explained that one of her friends paid it for us. I was glad he did. Good guys exist o, chaley! So me dieer I made the first Whatsapp call I needed to make and replied some more messages. I have no idea how I slept but I woke up with a headache.

First thing Monday morning, i bought airtime from the service center from the station while going to Masha’s. I saw Oxana, she really wasn’t well but she was glad I had brought the documents as I promised I would. Now Masha could take her to the hospital. I saw Masha’s lovely cat. When I got back home I was tired. I ate and rested for a while. I got a happy email. My brother had sent me some money ?. I called him to say how grateful I was. I really am grateful ?. I left home an hour later to receive the cash.I’m grateful for the lives of the lovely and kind Russian women and men I met who helped me get to the bank . Especially my last help. I pray for more blessings for him for the kindness he showed. Lastly, shoutout to the Holy Ghost, my great companion and my deepest source of comfort and direction. A big shout to Angelina (my instincts)- she led me to the right people who were more than willing to help.
All ended well.

Anywhere in the world you can either be happy or sad. In any circumstance you can choose to be happy or sad. In all moments and events choose to be happy not sad.

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. 6

 

These past few days I’ve felt so much love and light;

As Miss Tamara, a teacher in the first Lingua school I visited, spoke about GOD, I felt my soul lifted and so much comfort crept in. She spoke about joy and happiness, ‘it’s not so shocking that even in the Holy Bible, we are not encouraged to find ‘happiness’ but only to be of ‘good cheer’ and find ‘joy’. what does that tell you? You need to enjoy your life no matter how it looks’

It was in the eyes of little Maggie. It glistened as she laughed while KWAKU and I clapped and cheered after she sang her ABC song so well on the last video call

I saw it in Shrey’s eyes as he smiled with so much content after I jumped up in joy and hugged him-he had said I could actually keep the book I took from him

In Nina Simone’s eyes in a live performance of “DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD”

In Worlasi’s voice

In Nat King Cole’s songs

In Brymo’s voice

In my mother’s voice as she told me the only thing that can help me is prayer. The only thing I need to do is to pray

I felt it when the old man sitting opposite to me in the metro smiled at me when I looked up laughing helplessly at a text I had just read from the book I’m reading currently.

It was in Abena’s voice on those voice notes, narrating something that had happened earlier in the day or talking about M or R.S

It’s in my morning view- a kindergarten playground partly covered with snow. And with how the kids still find a way to move around the swing sets, jumping and laughing

In the eyes of two lovers I saw at the metro station staring endlessly into each other’s eyes. They smiled a few seconds after what felt like a forever and he tucked the hair that found its way into her face behind her ears and kissed her on the nose and moved her head into his bosom and planted a kiss on her head

In all the text messages I wake up to from my family and friends

In the joy that sprang out from the beautiful souls of the preschool kids in my last class

There’s so much love and light in knowing I’m having the time of my life. That being here and doing this to change the world and touch lives daily is gradually making me a better person, a stronger spirit, a lovely young woman and a care free spirit

In my mighty yearning for my one true love to quit all efforts to forget about me and move on. And my stupid inability to go through a day without thoughts of him occupying my heart and mind. So much light and love in my relentless yearning to be called “lil girl”. Again

There’s so much light and love, and softness even, when I look at the image I see in the mirror lately- a portrait of a usurper

So much love and light in Kwaku’s sweet advice to ‘clear the table’ and place on it fresh stuff to be worked on

So much light and love in the beautiful miracles I see daily after I go down on my knees and bow my head in humility against all odds. Things happen when you go down on your knees

There’s so much light and love. Find it. Bask in it

LOVE YOURSELF, APPRECIATE OTHERS. ESSY SCRIPTS!

Artwork by: Godwin Mitchual

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. 5

From 11th January-21st January 2017

Basically, I got home to a lovely lady, Oksana. Oksana is a student and an AIESECer here in Russia, and I’ll be living with her for the rest of my stay.
It was quite interesting how 11th went because we were to have a meeting with our manager at 12noon but it got canacelled and we eventually had to meet some other interns and managers to go sight-seeing. We visited a Cathedral and the famous Hermitage Museum.

With Paola from Columbia in front of the The Church of Spilled Blood

Funny thing is, we didn’t go inside because it was already late so we headed for McDonalds to grab a bite and go back home.

Next day 12th, we visited the Hermitage, again,only this time we had a chance to go in the building and bless us we had our International Student Identity Cards (ISIC) and got to save a few rubles on entry ?.

Shrey from India

The Hermitage is a very large museum with art pieces from Britain, France, Greece etc. It also holds an exhibition of crockery used centuries ago in Russian palaces, clothing, furniture etc.

The entrance to the main exhibition halls of the museum. And yes, everything you see around me that ‘looks’ like gold actually IS

There’s a famous saying that if one is to spend a minute on each painting inside the Hermitage, it’ll take 2years to fully see all of the paintings in this museum…creepy? Impossible? Well…I believe it.

I was in there for over 2 hours and that period got me through only about 40 paintings I think. I had a nice time in there.
The rest of the days after that mainly consisted of honoring invitations to Language schools in the city to engage students in discussions of various topics which are captured in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); education, inequality etc. and also speak about Ghana, our culture and traditions, teach them a we songs, dance, basically make a presentation on my country. And this was fun and exciting.
The first lesson was with teenagers and I had my colleagues from Hong Kong and India join in for the lesson.

I learnt a lot about their cultures and we had a healthy discussion.
The other lessons were mostly with pupils between 6th grade and 9th grade. That was fun too.

And my last lesson, which is the GREATEST, was with preschoolers.

I loved, loved, loved it. It was challenging to connect with them on a very simple and ordinary level, I really do not know why. So when I found my grounds after out-doing myself, I had so much fun, the kids did too. I wish I could see the, again and relive these beautiful moments.

I

And guess who got a drawing of themself. ? Don’t mess with my hair ?

I have only 18 days more in this lovely city, doing my best to represent my country and enjoy my stay to the fullest. Only 18 days ?

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. 4

This episode covers all events and experiences from church through to winter camp in Vostok and departure from Vostok (from 1st January -10th January 2017)

Amongst other things, my church is big on families. Since New Year happened to be on a Sunday, church service lasted for only an hour(it’s usually for 3). And this is just so families can go back home and have the rest of the day to engage in other worthwhile activities to build their bonds stronger and stay happy. The joy I felt during service was amazing…i felt at home. Back home I heard people say that church was the same everywhere and I felt it could be possible because we follow a particular set of proceedings each Sunday no matter where you are in the world, yet deep within I felt there could be a bit of a difference. Beingat church in Russia was a beautiful experience, the hymns, the talks, the testimonies, the people- everything was lovely. Now thinking about it, I feel I did myself a great injustice to judge the people Vis-a-Vis the Ghanaian people. Ghanaians are generally nice and happy people. There’s a lot going on in our country, as I perceive may be the case in other nations (everyone in a way or the other have their own reservations about their economy, politics and the well-being of their nation), yet Ghanaians have ways to find happiness in these situations. I’ll soon understand that Russian people are not particularly jolly fellows on the outside. One thing is for sure though, they are very, very nice people(when approached). I mean they won’t smile at you on the streets and wave at you because you are a foreigner, NO WAY. But if you happen to lose your way, or need any information they are open and hospitable. There’s a language barrier, yes, but with gestures, google translators, they will certainly help you find your way or offer help any other way they can.
So at church I was expecting the members to come welcome me, get acquainted and make me feel at home and all, (because that’s the case in Ghana) but that didn’t happen. But for 4 missionaries out of the 10 or so who were present, and 2 members out of the whole congregation, I wouldn’t have had a single soul walk up to me. Now I don’t know if you think it very ok for me to have feelings of regret for going to church or sadness at the turn of events but in retrospect I ask myself, ‘did I go to church to be pampered by the members?’. Of course it’s a good thing to move to a new setting and have the people make you feel welcomed but it is no one’s job to make you feel welcomed especially when you are at a particular place for a particular reason. I didn’t fully know this then and so I went back home feeling sad and angry and at a point I felt Russians were racist, and that they did not come to me because I was ‘black’. I don’t believe this was the case now, anyways. I believe I should have made an effort to socialize as well and not have crossed my legs hoping people will run to me just because I’m new to them.I cooked when I got home and on Tuesday, I left for winter camp in Vostok with my colleague from India, Manpreet.

Vostok was fun for me because I made it so. Our job as interns was to make the kids’ stay at the camp enjoyable, make them happy as well as teach them about our culture and traditions and some traditional dance from our countries. There were a number of supervisors and teachers present, and even a principal, so most of the time Manpreet and I didn’t have much to do. Yes we helped out with organizing camp events, teaching dances from our various cultures, interacting with the kids, but when we weren’t doing those, which was mostly the case, we were just in our rooms feeling sad and lonely and almost depressed. I later found a way to interact with the kid- join them in their dance performances and all…I felt happier communicating with them.
Generally, a lot of the kids didn’t speak much English, so again….google translators. It was fun, so much. On Christmas Day, (yes Christmas Day is 7th Jan. in Russia) I led a group of kids to dance to a Ghanaian tune, it was truly lovely. We had jams after the Christmas event and then the DJ dropped a slow-beat tune. It was amazing how the girls immediately moved away from our dance circle to meet up with the boys who, I later found out, had invited them to that dance. Seeing them ‘slow-dancing’ was the loveliest sight I’d seen so far and I shed a few tears. It was truly lovely. When the music went off I found myself in my room, my lights turned off, and crying out some more. The next day one of the kids wanted to know if I was a lesbian. Uhm… to this day, I still do not know how and why that question happened. I don’t know where the motivation came from but I do know I was startled and confused. But it’s ok… it’s probably not what you’re thinking as well.

A portion of the girls and me in my room

The whole camp experience was great. I do not regret participating and presenting my country to those kids. Deep down I’m proud I made it.
Last day in Vostok

We both arrived in the city on the 10th and I was welcomed with some good news, ‘I have a host I’d be living with for the rest of my happy days here in St Pete and she’s already excited, waiting for me at the Pionerskaya metro station’.
This conversation happened right in front of McDonalds. I stared at the chicken and fries that I was just about to order from my mind’s eye, and I moved my hungry self to the metro station nearby…

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. 2

…I move ahead to look for the screens to spot my check-in period and boarding gate number. It wasn’t so difficult anyways. So I moved to the counter and I’m told by the only attendant of S7, who can speak English quite well that moment, that I need to go back for my baggage. She was kind enough to direct me to go straight ahead to the last end and take the right turn from there, “you don’t have much time so you need to…..”, and then she started making motions to suggest running…”I need to run?”, I asked with a smile, admiring her efforts and ow bad things could have been if she wasn’t there to communicate with me.i thanked her and set off to face torture. I followed the exact direction and was old that was only for exits and I needed to use the ‘staff entrance’. Thankfully every no ice at this airport that is in Russian has an English interpretation beneath it. Sadly the only gate I saw that had ‘Staff only’ item on it as locked. I went back and forth for over 18minutes, asking for directions and following through to dead-ends. Finally I found the entrance and also discovered my flight was in 18 minutes. My heart was pounding at this moment, I know how this statement sounds more of a hyperbole but trust me, I could feel and hear my heart beating I thought it might as well just come out of my chest. At the baggage claim I spent less than 2 minutes, because my luggages were sitting comfortably staring at me dead in the face as though to say, “oh hey! There you are, we’ve been worried about you”. Seeing those two beauties filled my soul with joy. I grabbed a trolley pushed them on it, one on top of the other and sped to check in. A guy attended to me this time, his English way better than the lady who had helped out earlier.
At the security check point I was given rubber socks since my shoes had to go through the X-Ray, which was kind of cute, I must admit, because this is the first airport that has handed me rubber socks while I pass through the point so… Anyway…moving on, I get to the boarding gate and few minutes later an announcement goes that the flight has been delayed for an hour and the boarding gate has been changed. I rushed to the new gate in time to grab a seat because I had been standing for a while. I’m famished and I wish the wi-fi didn’t require a Russian number identification for access, at least I could share my stress with my homies, receive a little teasing and feel ok. *sigh*
The plane finally arrives and the final check in is done. Window seat yaaaay! So Emirate does this thing for its Skyward members, you could choose the sort of entertainment you want as well as your seat preference, and they followed my preferences to the letter except for the flight from Dubai to Moscow when I had to sit in the middle, but that’s ok because I got to meet, Josh, remember?, and had the only conversation I was privileged to throughout this entire trip.
I admired the view beneath. It was pretty, it was pretty! And I experienced one of my favorite things, yet again. The shaking of the plane when it’s taxiing for take off. To me that feels like preparation for a new life, fresh expectations and endless possibilities. Anything can happen when the flight lands, of course anything you give way to happen.
Moscow to Pulkovo, Petersburg took an hour and 10minutes. I’m grateful to the little boy who sat next me with his dad. He helped me communicate with the hostesses and smiled at me. I think I crushed on him a bit?. He was very nice to me, so was his dad.
So flight’s landed I’ve picked up my luggages and I’m hoping there’s someone on the other side holding up a card with my name on it…

THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. I


“Speak Russian”, she said with a stern look. I have been standing in front of this counter for over 13 minutes and my feet were beginning to hurt. She hadn’t said anything after I gave her my passport and other travel documents. She did not ask me any questions, did not tell me why I was still at the counter looking at her while she refused to make eye contacts with me. Her colleague in the next counter had looked through the documents of Russians and other whites and given them the pass, close to 7of them, and I was still waiting. She looked over my head, then to the left in a stare, and when I finally asked, “is there a problem, something wrong with my documents?”, she looked at me with spite and angrily asked that I spoke Russian. She is very rude, this customs officer at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. She was at the very beginning when she sharply asked Josh to leave us alone. Josh is about the most welcoming Russian I had met so far. We met on the Emirates flight to Moscow. He sat next to me to the left and told me about his escapades…the safari trips and how he’d been on a flight for 14 hours due to a few inconveniences, “I trust Emirates, they are very competent so I’m sure the delay must have been due to a very serious hiccough”. His accent was not too bad, his statements were clear enough to be heard and understood. He has been to Ghana too. The first thing he asked after we exchanged greetings and I had told him where I was from was to know if I were an Ashanti or a Fante. I found that very impressive. I told him I was Fante and he said his colleague who had convinced him to make that trip to Ghana had ended up getting married to a very beautiful Fante woman and she was excellent in the kitchen. I looked away with a smile thinking to myself, “well she’s Fante, duuuuuh”. I really wished I could tell him that but you see, he’s Russian and wouldn’t be up for the fight, he just wouldn’t understand. This kind of argument is best ventured with a Ghanaian, if you know what I mean ?
So Josh offered to stand with me at the counter, at least to make sure I was safe and well taken care of but the woman behind the counter rudely asked that he stepped aside. I thought she was just doing her job but now I feel she clearly wasn’t.
18minutes of standing and a different customs officer, female too, approaches and asks that I followed her. She leads me to a seat and asks me to wait. Now the waiting is getting interesting. More people are being led to this sitting area and all of them can speak Russian and so they are able to put across their grievances. I sit here still waiting and joyfully receiving the spiteful glances from the Russians proceeding to the counters. Their children will smile and wave at me and I’ll make funny glances back at them, sticking my tongue out and opening my eyes wider while doing so to look like a caricature, and they’ll laugh some more and their mothers will pull them hastily from the scene.
20minutes later I get called by another officer, a male this time. He leads us to a different counter for a short interview. I answered all questions confidently and presented all my documents, and gave out the number and address of my host family. He calls Lina just to confirm if they were expecting me. He later takes the documents and asks that I go back to my seat. While there, he calls on others one after the other and takes them through this short interviewing session.
Few minutes after, I’m led to a different counter and my immigration card is handed over to me. Finally! And the man at the counter was nice to me.
So I safely move through the tiny gate on my right to the baggage claim. Now I’m confused, I’m I to pick up my baggage from here or I’d just have it at my final destination, Petersburg? Well the Emirates attendants said that I’d have it at my final destination so let me just go ahead and look for the information screen to spot my gate number…

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