In the meantime, I was continuing my weekly correspondence with Bayarma. One day, she announced that her old sister Darima, would be going to an international business school in Monterey, California. She asked if it was near Los Angeles, close to where I live. It wasn't close, but it was certainly closer than Siberia! I decided to go up and see her, and take her some gifts for her sister.
On January 6, 2001, I took my teenage daughter with me, and we drove up to Oakland, where Darima was staying at her friend's house during semester break. On the telephone, she sounded just like an American! I could not detect a foreign accent! Whoever taught her English was superb! She turned out to be an energetic and warm person, with a great sense of humor. We liked her immediately!
An old family photograph showing Hero of the Soviet Union Vasily Kharinaevich Khantaev with his Grand-daughter.

During our chat, Darima told me about her family background, and that not only could she speak English, but also Spanish! I also speak Spanish. She learned her Spanish from a Cuban teacher. Imagine conversing with an ethnic Mongolian from Russia, in Spanish! She asked me how my Russian was and I told her that it was very poor. I took two years of high school Russian (1969-70), but had not used itsince, and had forgotten most of it. But I volunteered that I had taken two years of Mandarin Chinese at San Jose State. Immediately, she started speaking Mandarin to me! She told me that she had lived in Manchuria for a couple of years and had picked up the language there. So we chatted briefly in Mandarin!
When Darima finished the business school course in June, she was required to do a two month internship for a high tech company in Redwood City, in the midst of California's famous "Silicon Valley" where all the high tech computer and companies were located. Her biggest problem was finding affordable housing. Not only would landlords not rent to anyone for such a short period, but the monthly rent was ridiculous! A typical one bedroom apartment went for $1,600.00 a month! Although Darima received a small monthly stipend from her grant, and would receive a token salary from her company, it would certainly not come close to paying for the rent!
Realizing her dire situation, I immediately called a couple of friends in Palo Alto, and they promised to see if they could find suitable housing for Darima. One of my friends called another friend, who called Craig Fotheringham. Craig is a tall, intelligent, and pleasant young man with red hair. He was working in the accounting department of a large high tech firm in Redwood City. I did not know him, but was told that he was a real gentleman, and more importantly, he had a two bedroom apartment and was single. I phoned Craig and introduced myself.
"How would you like to have a very interesting house guest for two months?" I asked Craig. He had been informed from his friends that the house guest would be a Russian gal from Siberia. "Hmm, only two months?" he mused. "Well, I suppose. It's short enough. Yeah, OK, why not! I'll take a chance."
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