© ISPmanager licensed
|Thank you for coming to amcsee.org
|The website is being built now
|amcsee.org was created:
August 14 2012 19:48:23.
Today Saturday 25 May 2013 21:46:25
Even the spaces under electricity towers were
turned into makeshift greenhouses using a patchwork of plastic sheeting.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any
more depressing, the train shunted past three cars parked at the side
of the road, nose to tail. They were riddled with bullet holes and burned
out. There was no snow or ice on them and shattered glass lay all over the
place. It looked as if they'd only just been hosed down and flash lighted
For all I knew there might still be bodies inside. A couple of kids walked
past and didn't give them a second look.
The train stopped with a rumble and a loud squeal of brakes. We seemed
to be in a rail yard. Fuel tankers and freight cars appeared on either side,
all covered with Russian script and caked in oil and ice. I was back in a
scene from a Harry Palmer film again, only Michael Caine would have had a
suit and trench coat on instead of piss-stained jeans. The train just seemed
to have driven into the yard and stopped, and that was it. Going by the
number of doors opening, it was time to get off. Welcome to Narva.
I looked out of the window and saw people jumping down onto the tracks
with their shopping bags. The only other remaining passenger in my car was
leaving. I did the same, traipsing through the snow across a massive
shunting yard, following the others toward an old stone house. I guessed
that it hadn't been built until after 1944, because I'd read that when the
Russians "liberated" Estonia from the Germans they flattened the whole town,
then rebuilt it from scratch.
I went through gray-painted, metal double doors into the ticket office.
The room was only about twenty by thirty feet, with a few old plastic,
classroom-style chairs around the sides. The walls were covered with the
same thick shiny gray paint as the doors, onto which graffiti had been
scratched. I thought the floor was plain pitted concrete until I noticed the
two remaining tiles refusing to leave home.
The ticket office was closed. A large wooden board was fixed to the
wall near the sales window, with plastic sliders upon which, in Cyrillic,
were the names of various destinations. I looked for anything that resembled
the word Tallinn. It seemed that the first train back was at 8:22 each
morning, but even if they'd spoken English, there was no one around to
I stepped round the obligatory puddle of vomit and came out of the main
entrance. Over to my left was what I took to be a bus station. The buses
were of 1960s or 1970s vintage, all battered and some even hand painted.
People were fighting to get aboard,
exactly as they'd done in the capital; the driver was shouting at them
and they shouted at each other. Even the snow was exactly the same as in
Tallinn: dirty, downtrodden, and viciously icy.
Digging my hands deep into my pockets I cut directly across the
potholed road, following the map in my head along Puskini, which seemed to
be the main street. It wouldn't be far to Konstantin's address.
Puskini was lined on either side by high buildings. On the left, what
looked like a power station loomed behind them and, bizarrely, electricity
towers were set into the street and pavements, so pedestrians had to pick
their way round them. Russians seemed to have sited all their industrial
units as near as possible to the stations that powered them; then, if they
had any space left, they'd squeezed in accommodation for the workers, and
fuck the people who had to live there. I'd seen enough to tell me this was a
miserable, run-down place. The newest buildings looked as if they dated from
the 1970s, and even they were falling apart.
I headed up the street, keeping to the right. It was quiet apart from
the occasional tractor and one or two Russian-plated articulated lorries
surging past. The roads and sidewalks were jet black with grease and grimefactory, and more rows of miserable apartments came into view, identical to
the ones I'd seen from the train. There were no names on the blocks, just
stenciled numbers. At last I'd found one thing that my childhood project had
over this place: at least every building there had been named after
locations in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The rest of it, though, was much
the same rotting wooden window frames and cracks in the panes taped over
with packing tape. I remembered why I'd promised myself at the age of nine
that I'd get out of shit holes like this as soon as I could.
It was only about one thirty in the afternoon, but An old man was lying on top of a cardboard box to one side of the main
entrance, sheltered by the shop's canopy. His head was wrapped in rags, his
p after another hundred yards or so. I came to
a giant parking lot, full of buses and cars.