In the summer of 2012, I went on vacation to Russia with my friend, James. We like always to see the Russian country and experience Russian culture. Being the manager of an international company, my work is stressful. James, who always accompanies me on holiday, owns a small network of restaurants across Europe, and when we need to relax we usually travel far afield.
On arriving at Kazaň, we checked into a hotel in the centre of town and then went out to find a restaurant where we could have dinner and make plans for our stay. There are many interesting places to see in this beautiful city and we spent the next day visiting some of the local sights. Later in the afternoon, we returned to the restaurant we’d been to the previous evening, and it was when we were ordering our meal that I saw her. She was standing at the bar, talking with a waiter as though she were trying to explain something. She looked so charming, her lovely brown hair and blue eyes made a sweet combination. When the discussion came to an end, she made to leave the restaurant and, as she walked past me, I said, „Hello!“ She smiled at me, exited the restaurant and left me sitting there like a little boy. James said, „Hello? Martin, ‘hello’ won’t impress her! Hahaha.“
Perhaps I’d been working so hard that I’d lost the ability to make any new connection.
Next morning, I told myself I should try to invite the woman for a cup of coffee. Then I thought perhaps it’s a crazy idea? Why go for a coffee with someone from another part of the world? She lives here in a nice country with a nice culture, but it’s very different to mine and, after all, back home I have a perfect job! Later on, I calmed down, reasoning that making a friend from another country was not such a bad idea. So, I went to the restaurant.
There she was, wearing a beautiful dress and smiling and talking with the employees. At the end of their conversation, she crossed to the rear of the restaurant and disappeared into a private area. Once again, I became the little lost boy. I went up to the waiter and asked him if it would be possible to speak with the lady.
„Ekaterina,“ he called out, leaving me in a state of shock as I thought I’d have at least a few seconds in which to ready myself and think of something to say. Again, I began to think my plan was crazy.
Within a few seconds, she returned to the restaurant and walked up to me. „Hello,“ I said. „Hello,“ she answered. Looking at her sweet face, I forgot all my worries and just started talking: „I saw you yesterday,“ I told her, „and thought you were so nice.“ Because she was working (she was operations manager at restaurant), she wasn’t able to join me for coffee at that moment but told me to come back later, when her shift would be finished. I returned with a small bunch of flowers, and we spent a nice couple of hours chatting about everything and discovering that we had many things in common.
The next day, I returned to the restaurant. And the next, and the next! On leaving Kazaň, Ekaterina gave me her email address – and the communication never stopped, although we both knew that a long-distance relationship could be problematic. While women can sometimes be too temperamental, Ekaterina is an amazing person and has a lovely personality, and living without her drove me crazy. But here I was, in my home country, and here I had to stay. Eventually, after 2 years of conversation via Skype and after many lengthy emails, Ekaterina relocated to my country. Now we’ve been together for 4 years, and in September Ekaterina will be giving birth to our son, whom we’ve decided to call Garry.
If someone would have asked me if, on the day when I first saw Ekaterina, I thought she and I would get married, I’d have answered, „No! Love at first sight is something I don’t believe in.“ However, meeting Ekaterina opened my eyes and taught me that different cultures are not a problem when there is respect and when two people want to share a life together.