This summer I decided to relax on Sakhalin – my children and grandchildren are tired of inviting guests. So why procrastinate? Subsidized plane tickets – one and a half thousand. In addition, the benefit for residents of the Far East is valid twice a year in both directions.
Green as a crocodile, the S7 airliner looked like a van to me. It was the first time I flew on such a flying carpet! Only 55 minutes. Before I had time to close my eyes to rest, they were already announcing: we are preparing for landing. When I sat in a comfortable chair fastened with a belt, as a philologist I thought of the great Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. In the end, they had to land at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk International Airport, which bears his name.
In April 1890, the thirty-year-old writer, despite his poor health, set off from Moscow across the country on a dangerous journey, a difficult journey to the distant island of Sakhalin. For your money, not for public expense! It was a place of royal exile where thousands of prisoners worked in inhumane conditions.
For three months and two days of stay, the writer and the doctor toured the island, studied the life of the prisoners, conducted a census of the population, which no one had done before him. He visits mines, prisons, barracks, studies the life of a person doomed to physical and moral suffering, opposes physical punishment.
A truly civil act cut Chekhov’s life short: his tuberculosis worsened. The trip irreversibly affected the body and caused an untimely (at 44!) death.
Here my thoughts were interrupted: imperceptibly the plane made a soft landing and the pilot said goodbye to the passengers.
The luggage arrived immediately. I look at the terminal building – old, small, uncomfortable and ugly. But next to it rises a huge, in the form of a huge wave, a straight engineering miracle of glass and metal. But it builds long and slowly…
Airport in the city. There is no cost to get to the job center. The wide paths are surrounded by exquisite patterned metal fences, and on them grow and smell multi-colored petunias in large baskets. The flowers create whimsical compositions and look like bright carpets. I heard that Yuzhny (as the islanders affectionately call the city) is a city of mountain ash. And I was convinced: the streets are buried in the green of the mountain ash.
I was pleasantly surprised that there are large artesian water dispensers in some yards. He approached the machine at any time of the day, paid for the purchase with a banknote or coin, inserted a bottle, pressed the button and … received the purest cold water.
Not far from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – rural expanses. Hay bales are being prepared for the cattle. Large herds of cows and sheep graze outdoors. I saw strong farms. The country’s greenhouse economy is impressive. This is a modern state farm with its own shops selling vegetables, various herbs, flowers. The meat is also local. And salmon is the emblematic fish of the islanders. I won’t say it’s cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than ours. That’s why almost everyone who flies to the continent gets on board the plane with thermal bags in hand. It is immediately clear: they bring delicious fish and caviar!
In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk there is a truly unique place – the park for culture and recreation named after Yu. A. Gagarin. On its vast territory there are many exciting attractions, original playgrounds. A children’s railway has been operating here since the middle of the 20th century. The carriages depart from the platform to the music of “Forgiveness of the Slavic Woman”. So touching! Cashiers, conductors, controllers – students. Uniform, strict, important, well-mannered. Won me over.
The name of the great Russian classic Anton Pavlovich Chekhov is closely associated with the city. There is Chekhov Street, the international theater center named after him, the only literary and art museum of the Sakhalin Island book in Russia. The museum is surrounded by a beautiful square. You walk along its paths and “meet” the bronze characters from Chekhov’s stories. Take a picture for a memory, stop and remember what you read at school in literature classes, touch a button or a hat – make a wish.
It is possible, without entering the museum building, to “download” popular and famous works of art, plays and the book “Sakhalin Island”, as well as various statements of Chekhov. I managed to record such a popular expression on my phone and send it to Dalnerechensk. “If you want to become an optimist and understand life, then stop believing what they write and say, and observe for yourself and immerse yourself in it.” Chekhov’s genius and simple!
For me, now Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is not just a point on the map of Russia, but a beautiful and modern city, not a periphery. I want to come back here, for two weeks he gave me strength and inspired me.
Anna GRANCHAK, Dalnerechensk, Primorsky Krai.