Jean Lombard's Russian Connection continued...

That particular visit to Moscow was not a great success for me. The trip had been delayed because of my father’s death, I was poor, naive and intimidated by the whole scene. I also suffered from a certain amount of guilt at abandoning my mother just after my father had died.

I stayed in Moscow about 3 months and found myself very unhappy indeed. I returned home, promising myself never to go back to Russia again. There was a depression and drabness, all foreigners were treated as aliens, and of course I didn’t speak the language.

Some years went by and my next visit to Russia was in 1981, when basically things didn't really seem any different. I traveled with my husband, John Lombard, who was a freelance journalist at the time, he was writing some stories about Russia. We spent one week in Moscow staying at the old National Hotel on the corner of Gorky St and Menage Square just by the Kremlin. We then went to St Petersburg - my first visit there, but although physically it is a very different city to Moscow, it was very similar in attitude to foreigners, and after all we were still in the Soviet State. Again a visit that didn’t impress either of us too much.

The years in between and after that visit were filled with rearing children, running a business, travelling and later a posting to Singapore, where John was appointed a foreign correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. We lived in Singapore for nearly 3 years, working and travelling around South East Asia. On a visit to the Singapore office David Hill, then Managing Director of the ABC, mentioned to John that he was thinking of opening an ABC office in the USSR. At that time there was only a hint of an opening up of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev had just come into power, and it looked like an exciting time to go to Moscow from a journalist’s point of view.

So my next trip was the real one ... the serious one. This was life in the Soviet Union and all the struggles that went with day to day living. We had some trips to London to do language training, and a trip to Ireland to farewell our Irish families.

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An Irish Woman in Czarist Russia
by Jean Lombard