This outflow occurred before positive urban developments started here.
Incidentally, I've observed these processes. I don't want it to seem as if I was whining: "My Kazan has been destroyed!" That's just my own personal trauma. I can see that, on the whole, Kazan is now very attractive, especially for young people. It's a significant player in regional competitions.
It just hurts me that there aren't any historical parks left in Kazan. Gorky Park, where I loved walking as a child, has now been so urbanized that there are no, like, wild places left. I was very impressed by the park in the center of Bonn, Germany for this reason: it's like a forest. Everything is more or less clean there, and the design isn't overbearing. It features very delicate landscape work: everything looks as natural as possible. At first it seems like you're looking at a spontaneously grown forest, and then, when you notice that all of it is the carefully thought-out work of very hip designers, you're overjoyed.
What was the first foreign country you visited?
Yugoslavia. I was there as a child. My father had an internship in Ljubljana at the Jožef Stefan Institute. He lived and worked there for two years probably, and my mother and brother and I visited him on vacation.
Once, quite by accident, when my parents left for the city (we were living in Yugoslavia by the sea; it was almost like camping, kind of like a Russian dacha in terms of comfort, the only difference being that it was by the sea), my brother and I went for a walk and accidentally ended up on a nudist beach. For me, as a Young Pioneer from the Soviet Union, that was, of course, very impressive.
What did it represent to you? Freedom?
I was nine years old at the time, so I had no concept of anything like that. It was just like, well, they were crazy! These naked people are crazy!!! That was my reaction, not freedom at all.
But the standard of living there, of course, was completely different. Definitely better. I understood that.
Have you ever wanted to leave Russia?
A short poem by Khlebnikov came to mind: "A patch of land is a wonderful thing; it is the meeting place between me and the state." Meaning, there are two players at point X: me and the state. But Khlebnikov isn't entirely right, because, besides the fact that I formally live in the Russian state, I still live in a certain social environment, which also plays a very important role. Perhaps it is more important to me than the fact that I live at this spot in Russia.
I have childhood friends here, classmates, random acquaintances from all different periods of my life, in general, people whom I can help and who can help me.
What am I talking about? Anyone can, of course, move to any city they like, but the question remains: why?
I'm a man of the Volga. My life on the Volga is very good. I have a connection with the landscape, which is stronger than with the city. Our Volga atmosphere suits me. Why would I move anywhere else? For what? To make more money? I've been philosophical since childhood, so I understand perfectly well: you can't take anything with you to the grave, so I don't intend to waste time on moving, effort, or machinations just to increase my wealth.
I'm an unassuming person. Pretty much any kind of living condition suits me, and I really don't care that there are individual shortcomings in our country: I live in my own world; as a rule, I feel good in it, and I certainly never get bored.