I can gladly report that the levels of nudity between us guys has decreased immensely. Instead, fate had very different ideas for us this week…
Last Saturday we were invited to a concert at the Philharmonic hall celebrating ‘The Day of National Unity’. After sitting down in the auditorium, it became immediately apparent that this concert was a bad idea. Apart from us 3 English 21-year-old’s, the rest of the crowd comprised of about 2000 OAPs. The concert started with some traditional dancing, all fine, before moving onto the speeches from the local big shots. 30 minutes later I honestly thought I had been transported back into 1950’s Soviet Russia- ‘Comrades, Dear Friends, together we can make the country great! You are firstly citizens of Russia, then secondly citizens of the world! Etc etc…’ We sat squirming for a good hour whilst these ridiculously last century speeches indoctrinated everyone but us. Once the speeches had finished, unbelievably, it actually got worse. The concert was a 2 hour long mime-fest with some very questionable dancing.
That night we had been invited round to a friend’s house after we had offered to cook them some classic English food. Out of all the friends we have made in Tyumen, these are the ones that typify the ‘New Russians’- well-educated, friendly and well-travelled. We decided to cook them Shepherd’s Pie, fairly easy and tasty. However, upon arriving at the apartment, we discovered that there were only two pans. Miraculously, after about 2 hours of working away, everything went to plan and they all loved it.
Around Monday of last week we all had a sudden lull in enthusiasm for everything Russian and all became quite homesick. Luckily, before I took to drinking in true Russian fashion (vodka before midday), I received a receipt for a parcel. 7 weeks ago after hearing that I had lost some weight my worried parents send me a package of food, testing the postal system here. The Royal Mail optimistically estimated that it would take 4-5 days. LOL. Buoyed by the promise of some English produce I practically skipped to the Post Office. I pushed open the door and was greeted by the sight (and smell) of about 50 bored Babushkas; apparently it would have taken over two hours to collect my parcel. Plunged into a foul mood and muttering some of my finest Russian swear words I stormed back to the shithole that I call home and vowed to return at 8am the next day.
At 08:15 I sat down and enjoyed the sweet taste of victory. A jar of peanut butter and 2 chocolate bars that had traveled 2000 miles and taken an absurd amount of time had never tasted so good.
Things were on the up- my Russian was getting vaguely comprehensible and I was enjoying myself once again. On Thursday evening we had arranged to meet up with a friend. Yet, before this Iona and I went to a cafe. After sitting down she announced to me that ‘I’m not feeling too good.’ Boy oh boy was she right. I ordered myself a large sandwich, sat down and enjoyed myself whislt Iona had to keep running to the loo to throw-up. Food poisoning had finally struck one of us down.
Speaking of striking down… At approximately the same time, innocent, angelic Charlie McCloy was ambling back down the main street to meet us. Unbeknownst to him, a man from [Insert Country] had taken a disliking to him. Whilst standing on the traffic island in between lanes, said [Countryman] marched up to him, shouted something incomprehensible, then promptly twatted him square in the face.The man then ran off. Adding insult to injury, the stunned, shocked and utterly confused Charlie had to wait for a green light before even being able to nurse his injuries.
I am glad to report that, apart from his pride and an impressive black eye, he is absolutely fine once again.
On Thursday, Izzy Linacre, a friend from University, posted this link on my Facebook page with the comment ‘Weird, weird country you have decided to live in’:
Fate really is tempted easily… Last night we went out with a couple of friends for some beers, one of them was the designated driver so he didn’t touch a drop all night. The bar we went to closed at 12 and so we decided to get some more beers from a supermarket nearby. The seal had been fully broken, so en route we stopped off by a roundabout and all piled out to relieve ourselves. We walked about 20 metres from the car, and began our business. Mid-flow, there was an almighty bang from our car and a large cloud of smoke from nearby it. We ran back to discover that another car had spun off the roundabout and ploughed into the front, driver side of our car. The other car was halfway up a large bank of snow and in equally back condition.
The Police arrived miraculously quickly, especially considering that we are in Russia. The man who’s car had spun off slowly got out of his car and started giving it some lip. He was absolutely battered. There is an absolute no drink-driving law in Russia, so it was pretty obvious that this guy was in trouble. He at first seemed to be resigned to the fact that he had been caught and was in the shit.
However, as is always the case here, it didn’t end there.
Our friend who had been our driver decided to get a picture of the culprit. Of course, the culprit didn’t take it so well and so he started swinging for him. The Police rushed in to intervene and so instead of stopping, the drunk pillock started having a go at the Police as well. Bad idea. The Police officers, already renowned for brutality in Russia, got out there cattle prod-type taser and proceeded to electrocute, kick and rough-up the felon.
All the while Charlie, Rob and I stood part-gawping, part-reveling in the utter absurdity of the situation. Just another day in Tyumen…