Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Alina the Tartar

We leave most of our belongings in the left luggage facility at the station in Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Muslim region of Tartarstan. It was warm when we arrived so when a chill wind brought rain later in the day, we regretted not bringing more sturdy clothing. We spent a miserable hour or so wandering about in the rain, Will looking rather beautiful in my purple cardigan, looking for an internet cafe.

Kazan ... before the rain.

When we finally find one, it's full and we can't work out the infuriatingly incomprehensible queuing system. We're soggy, bedraggled, feeling a little sorry for ourselves and (unfairly) not highly impressed with Kazan, when something wonderful happens. A girl with an American accent asks us if we need help. Alina is a native Muslim Tartar from a village outside Kazan but has been living in New York for the last three years, working and studying English. She takes us to a great cafe that has wifi and delicious cakes.

Alina is always thinking about climate change. She's noticed that it's much warmer than it used to be and believes it to be mainly caused by cities and their polluting industries. She tells me she buys energy efficient products, tries not to use more paper than necessary and gets angry about littering and the pollution of the waterways that is common here.

Alina & Emma

Alina's father works in the oil industry and he has told her that there will be enough oil for his generation and the next (i.e. Alina's) but that the next will have to find alternatives. She worries that so many of the things we rely on are made from oil at the moment.

Echoing other Russian opinions we've encountered so far, she thinks that climate change will affect animals worse than humans and this concerns her greatly. She believes everybody must think about the issue because it's coming whether we like it or not. She thinks we all needs to change the way we live but thinks that human beings are adaptable creatures and is therefore optimistic that we can.

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