It’s been two years since I almost settled in Portugal, but I still don’t like the idea of being considered an immigrant. The word itself bothers me, it sounds tinged with irony. As Françoise Sagan wrote, among hum [l’écrivain et chanteur] Alexander Vertinsky and French Baguette Crunch, “One out of two Russians in Paris is a great prince.”. I don’t like this rotten mixture of nostalgia, slander and sterile suffering, that’s all.
Thank God, nowadays we don’t have to drink that cocktail, which, by the way, is no longer being made. There is no longer emigration but expatriates, which can be temporary, because it has become normal to live a period in a foreign city or country before returning, if the heart tells us, to our country of origin.
“Some seek conformity, others don’t care.”
In general, we live a simple life here: we prepare our papers, work and learn the language as much as we can. Some strive to fit in, others don’t care. An ordinary life which has no other purpose, for all, whatever the country, than to secure a comfortable life, a regular income, a small circle of acquaintances, and the respect of neighbours. Neighbors who, moreover, don’t care who you were in and why you left. It’s personal.
All you have to do is enjoy life. Moreover, what do those I meet in my Portuguese lessons: chauffeurs, construction workers, mechanics, representatives of the class that, in Russian intellectual circles, is generally called the “proletariat” or “the masses of the people”, the “Vasily”. The most surprising thing is that Vasily, who often did not find a place for himself in the country, displays after five years of emigration the atmosphere of social success.
He received a residence permit, sometimes already citizenship, a large three-room apartment on credit somewhere on the outskirts of Lisbon, a pickup in the name of his company and the respect of those around him. Because Vasily, a plumber, for example, charges 50 euros per visit “to see what can be done”. And because Vasili, unlike his Portuguese colleagues, is available at all hours of the day and night, his customers sing, love, and appreciate him in every way. On weekends, Vasily cooks shrimp on the barbecue,