I studied, met with students in the libraries, told them about old Kazan. There weren't very many people you could talk about that with back then.
And now, to be honest. What did you do then?
Then I got drafted into the army (back then they even took full-time college students).
Six months of training in Sverdlovsk in the air defense forces, then a year and a half in Siberia, in the taiga near Bratsk, which always smelled like urine because of the aluminum and paper factories. They gave me a guy, a Turkmen I think, named Chary to take care of while I was on leave. They told me to look after him, and as we walked through the city, I told him the difference between a bus and a trolleybus, which have, like, horns sticking up, because he was from a place that was very far from civilization. He worked in the pigsty in our unit (not really worked, but that was his duty). And he was so thin, unhappy, and when we came out of the bakery with a bag of either gingerbread cookies or sushki [dried bisquits], some woman, from the same kind of Khrushchev-era building (as where my parents live) knocked on the window from the first floor, seeing how hungry Chara was. She says: "Come in, my son's in the army too, let me feed you." We say: "Sure, of course." And she quickly set the table, put out potatoes and salo [cured pork lard], and Chara and I tried vodka for the first time. Especially him.
From there, I wrote for all sorts of military newspapers, and for Vechernyaya Kazan, too. I took part in discussions about what can be built downtown and what cannot.
Once you serve in the army, you're allowed to go to school full-time. I passed a bunch of exams. I had wanted to study political science, but ended up in the sociology department, which used to be called scientific communism. With that major, they would add 15 more rubles to the usual living allowance of 40 rubles. I was still interested in journalism, which was why I muddied through all of this.
Efir TV came on the air when I was still at the university.