Chita: Fifteen More Minutes of Fame

Ten years ago, Gary and I had our 15 minutes of fame in Chita when a local TV station sent a reporter to interview us. It was the only city where we provoked such local interest, and we felt like rock stars.

This time around, that old Chita magic is working again. On Monday our host Pasha (more about him below) told us that his friend Svetlana Moskalenko, a local TV reporter, wanted to interview us. She came with her cameraman, and they promptly whisked us off to Lenin Street, the subject of our upcoming Road Story here. She interviewed me for about 10 minutes while her cameraman shot video and David photographed the whole thing.

A local TV reporter interviews Lisa on Lenin Street in Chita. (David Hillegas)

David joked later about how I'd gone all Hollywood on him, but that night he ended up being the star of another show. Pasha had invited us to see a folk troupe perform at the Chita Regional Drama Theatre, where he works, and we happily took in the sights and sounds of "Zabaikal Uzori" as they sang and twirled through a couple hours of traditional songs. Toward the end, the dancers sashayed into the audience to pull people toward the stage, and a reluctant David got dragged to the fore. He gamely did a little dance, then hurried back to his seat.

But his moment in the spotlight wasn't finished yet. During the next song, the MC thanked the obligatory list of officials and sponsors, then barked, "And where are our guests from Washington!?" We sat dumbfounded, while an entire row of middle-aged women behind us began shouting, "Here! Here!" and pointing at us -- I guess they heard us speaking English during the intermission. With that, we were hustled to the front of the hall, where David was pulled into another impromptu dance with one of the troupe's female performers.

Dear readers, the photographer can shake his booty. The crowd went nuts. I only regret that he could not take a picture of himself doing it.

A friend of a friend, Pasha is generously hosting Lisa and David while they're in Chita. (David Hillegas)

Pasha greeted us after the concert with a big smile. "I hope you don't mind that I told them about you being here," he said. Energetic and physically fit at 39, Pasha is a friend of a friend -- a person we'd never met before, but who has shown us the kind of over-the-top generosity I've experienced across Russia in both 1995 and 2005.

He has gladly taken us in during our stay, though there's already a sprawling catalogue of people and animals in his small apartment: Pasha, his wife Vika, her daughter Dasha, her brother Edik, their friend Oksana, a dog (Sofia) and a cat (Vasya). So, counting us, there are six adults and one child in this two-bedroom apartment. And of course, they've given us one of the bedrooms. I feel somewhat guilty about this, though it's useless to protest.

Tomorrow: Our 10-years-later look at Lenin Street, Chita's main thoroughfare.

By Lisa Dickey |  September 21, 2005; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: Chita: A Prediction Involving a Spanish Man | Next: Chita: Scenes from Lenin Street, 10 Years Later


Please email us to report offensive comments.

On the TransSiberian from Kharbarovsk to Moscow in 1984, I remarked to a Russian woman I'd met on the train that the town we were approaching was CHI-ta. She right away corrected me, declaring "It's chi-TA. CHI-ta was Tarzan's monkey."


Posted by: Jim Murray | September 21, 2005 01:08 PM

Of course I was pronouncing the town wrong the whole time I was reading...

I love reading your blog, Dear Writer.

Posted by: AndreaE | September 21, 2005 02:47 PM

Grandnanny and Ned and Nelson╦ťare reading your accounts.
Wish I'd seen the dancing..I know you made the family proud!
Love your photos, you and Lisa are great. Carry on..can't wait to
follow your adventures.

Posted by: CF | September 21, 2005 08:05 PM

Yes, it's chi-TA! Also, it's kha-BAR-ovsk, not KHA-barovsk. And, fyi, if you
pronounce my name here with the emphasis on the second syllable
-- li-SA -- it means "fox". Add to that the fact that "Dickey" sounds
like "dikii," which means "wild/savage," and I have a perfect
rock-n-roll name here. Just call me the wild fox. Ha! Or don't.

Posted by: Lisa Dickey | September 21, 2005 09:26 PM

Hi Lisa
shar told me about your web site. Sounds like all going great. Will look again soon. x

Posted by: Bev from ingerland | September 22, 2005 09:18 AM

"Dikaya Lisa" sounds nice but a bit threateningly in Russian, may be it helps you to get everything what you want in this out-of-the-way place? :-)

Posted by: Volodya | October 5, 2005 03:37 AM

Volodya - i think it sounds less threatening than ridiculous. That's the response I've gotten, at least. Maybe I need to change my look, wear a little more leather, develop a sneer?

Posted by: Lisa Dickey | October 13, 2005 07:49 AM

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