Lifestyle

My Kingston Farwell - Andrey Dryakin

Andrey Dryakin, outgoing head of the consular section/press attaché, Russian Embassy in Jamaica

Sunday, April 23, 2017    

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What surprised you most about Jamaica, in terms of expectations?


I believe that the potential and “depth” of Jamaica as an island and Jamaicans as a nation in Eurasia is strongly underestimated. The perception that most of my friends and I used to have before visiting “mi yard” was inevitably connected to drugs and criminal activities, because those are the things that for some reason mostly come up when Googling. After living here for almost five years, I would like to encourage all visitors (including diplomats accredited in Kingston) to spend more time travelling around and getting precious information and vibes from the locals — people of big heart.

How is living here most similar to and most different from living in Moscow?

Traffic, probably, on a daily basis would become the most similar feature of the two cities. Roads in Kingston, Montego Bay and other places around the island are experiencing an inflow of vehicles and transport infrastructure in both capitals, to my mind, needs urgent development with a long-standing perspective. The most different — without a doubt — the weather. I totally forgot about winter clothes and shoes living in Kingston, and its citizens should give blessings every single day for that!

What are your top three memories of being here?

The January 1, 2013, opening of the non-stop “Transaero” Russian airline flights from Moscow to Montego Bay and the welcoming ceremony at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay; my first visit to Strawberry Hill Hotel and watching the sunset; reaching the top of Blue Mountain Peak.

Which Jamaicans have inspired you, and why?

On January 6, 2013 I had a chance to visit the Maroons’ Accompong and this is for sure the picture that will stay in my memory forever. I have never met such a friendly people. They shared with us — visitors from a faraway country — all the little things they had in their possession, even those that might have been the last they had! Their unity and traditions have changed my impression about Jamaica 180 degrees.

Why should Jamaicans visit Russia?

Russia is a country with 1,000 years of history. It is the biggest country in the world with a whole variety of nations living there, incredible nature and wildlife. It is the motherland of great minds - writers, poets, composers, scientists, etc. This is the same story that I was telling you about stereotypes about Jamaica: we do not have bears walking in the street, we do not drink vodka every day (just every other day), we are not ice age country. But, yes, our women are some of the most beautiful in the world; yes, we cherish our culture; yes, we respect other nations and their views.

What is next for you after your post here?

The HR Department of my foreign ministry is expecting my return and hopefully will give me a number of options to consider. For now, I can only tell for sure that I will be finishing my PhD and missing Jamaica and my friends here.

What advice do you have for your successor from Russia who will fill this position?

I would like to wish the new Head of Consular Section at the Russian Embassy in Kingston good luck and a great time in lovely Jamaica. I am sure the first year will be far from easy, but one should always remember that diligence is the mother of success. The Russian Embassy in Kingston has great ties with the people of Jamaica and Russian nationals living here, so I am sure that this atmosphere of friendship would be even stronger every year under the distinguished guidance of the ambassador.

What is your favourite Jamaican food? Cocktail? Dancehall song? Spot to chill on a Sunday?

I like jerk chicken at Scotchies, steamed snapper and I adore pumpkin soup with shrimps. My drink would be Blackwell Rum on the rocks or coconut water next morning. Apart from Bob Marley and the Wailers, I like the music of Shaggy and Sean Paul (who, by the way, recently gave a fabulous concert in Moscow), on a Sunday night — my priority choice is Dub Club.

How could Jamaica and Russia deepen ties between the two countries?

Our country and the Russian Embassy in Kingston in particular are already doing a lot in this regard. Every year a number of scholarships are offered to Jamaicans, so that talented students are able to study at top universities in our country and become ambassadors in the local society after they graduate in showing the real picture of Russia. A big role here also belongs to the bauxite giant UC “RUSAL” (WINDALCO and Kirkvine alumina plant owner), which is providing another set of scholarships to the youngsters from local communities. Moreover, Jamaica Constabulary Force officers as well as their counterparts from other Caribbean countries are being trained in Russian academies every year, which helps in building bridges and fighting international crime together. The embassy regularly organises various exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, etc. We are thankful to the Jamaican authorities and friends for supporting our activities and we are sure that mutual activities will continue and their substance and intensity will grow.

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