Cuteness encapsulated

Cuteness encapsulated
Zeyskiy rayon, Russia

Zeyskiy rayon, Russia

…for a time.

You might make this an addendum to any rules of travel you have. Standard things like “don’t forget your toothbrush”, “don’t enter England without an umbrella”, “walk softly and carry a big stick”, that sort of thing. The addendum is, if you are travelling with an iPad, don’t use it in front of the small child who has joined your compartment, or you’ll lose it.

Pastel blue church. Four people sit on benches in the foreground
Pastel blue church.

I played a bit of Quarrel, a word game in English, not much use to a six (guess) year old Russian girl, but it has little characters jumping around and squashing each other after the wordplay, and she was fascinated. I finished and went into the corridor to stare out of the window and then felt a tap on my thigh. It was fairly obvious what she was after, though there was no Russian ‘iPad’. Fair enough, let’s see what we’ve got. Lego Harry Potter kept her going for a while, Bad Piggies was diverting for a bit, Eurosport not much cop without a connection and the trainset less fun than I’d thought. That last had at least changed language along with the iPad-I’d put that into Russian in the hope everything else would change, but most games just have English, it seems. Yoda chronicles has switched to Russian, that’ll fox me. She more or less settled on Bad Piggies, though later needed quite a lot of help. Which was cute right up to the point where it was very distracting; at which it was a blessing when the battery ran out.

Frankly I think the game with duvet over her head where she attacked me to groans every time made her giggle more, but iPad fiddling at first needed less intervention from me. We also found some corridor games, all within the subset of the “interrupt the English bloke looking out of the window” game, which involved some climbing on me, spinning by me and only one head clonk on the wall. In Russia this is greeted by 100% of the kids with whom I’ve played by just a smile. Now I know why Rocky struggled to hurt Dolph. Otherwise, it’s another day on the train, with few stops. I’m not sure we’re on time, there should have been a half hour stop somewhere, but we got just a short wander in the sun. When the train pulls in and has another on the next platform blocking easy access to the station it’s a bit like we’re exercising in a prison yard.

Seen from the train, a low building in Siberia, remote
Somewhere in Siberia.

Course, I’d created a monster, and an hour’s charging let her back on the iPad, which meant lots more taps on my leg as I read, and a declining view of her intelligence as she created vehicles for the piggies with no wheels, found they did not work and then did it again. Once it ran out of charge, the game was jumping on me, with a small girl’s lack of worry about where her head landed. Mum was able only to pull her off from time to time, not to stop her, so when I retired to the corridor I then had Rada (by now she had a name) climbing along the side rail, turning pages on the kindle, climbing on me and then relying on me to hold her up and so on. Eventually, beyond the limits of my private patience, mum decided to introduce her to the small girl in the next carriage. A masterstroke, though waiting till 8pm on my final evening was less good. Plus we sat in a siding for a long hour or two so tomorrow’s midday arrival looks hopeful. Some joint small person iPad time while I monopolised the power point in the corridor (there are three) sorted out my sense of equilibrium, and luckily I still had a soup left. Four meals on a three night, two day train-two lunches, two dinners? No, dinner, lunch, lunch and presumably lunch tomorrow. Three meals on a similar train last time – though with a later start and earlier drop off – equated to lunch first day, lunch and dinner the second.

The rule, then-bring food even if you are travelling with services, and prepare to use it. Or find the Russian for “can I have dinner tomorrow instead?”

View down train tracks. A woman walks on, in a floral trouser suit
Station – terrible trouser suits not compulsory.

Reading: Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw: and Other Adventures.

Quote (of Enron, and McKinsey) “It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing” (the box here is the organisation, debunking the idea, which McKinsey have trumpeted, that you hire talent and give it its head. Actually, good organisation trumps top ‘talent’.

“When you have an interview with someone and have an hour with them, you don’t conceptualise that as taking a sample of a person’s behaviour, let alone a possibly biased sample, which is what it is. What you think is that you are seeing … the whole person.”

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