Three hugs in a month in Russia. I think I will stay here. Today’s hug was a little bit different and it was all due to it being Paratroopers’ Day across the land. Speeding cars with flags out their windows and car horns blaring appeared to presage a football match. But no, it was former paratroopers in blue striped singlets, fatigues and light blue berets gathering together in large numbers at City Pond in Ekaterinburg to reminisce about past glories. Sadly City Pond lacked the ability to muster any craft to celebrate the event, but it is a very attractive central feature and a logical place to congregate and become sentimental.
This sentiment overflowed into my third hug with a gnarly, tough, beaten up, shaven gentleman in military camouflage gear. Fortunately he was friendly in his inebriation rather than otherwise, whilst he showed us his sniper’s decoration and carried out an animated one-way conversation, only mildly puzzled by our lack of comprehension. This type of interaction can bring out my cowardly streak which in this case precluded me from taking his photograph.