I am actually very happy to say that nothing vaguely fatal has happened recently. Instead, with only ten days left in Tyumen, I thought I’d devote my last post (rant) to our everyday lives here.
For the last three and a half months I have been living with an Azerbaijani, Charlie a Chechen, Rob a Tajik and Iona a Mongolian. The rooms we live in would be considered a very optimistic ‘cosy’ in England. In hindsight, combining a tight room (read: crap), drastically different cultures and such a long period of time was always going to cause some friction.
Our living conditions make Bristol’s Halls look like 5* Hotels and roomy; the rooms here are about 5x3m and we have to share a desk. What’s more, for the past month the Siberian winter has very much set in (reaching a ball-chatteringly cold -33 with wind chill so far) meaning that nipping to the (nonexistent) nearby pub to escape our roommates for a while is all but impossible.
I normally consider myself a fairly easy-going guy, admittedly I can be untidy from time to time (just ask my Uni house last year…), however I feel like some of my basic human rights have been taken away since living here.
Hussein is a Muslim, as such he has to pray 5 times a day. I don’t have a problem with that one bit, however, being woken up a 6:30am every morning for 3.5 months has definitely had a lasting effect. Despite his alarm being louder than a Boeing 747 landing next to my head, he can never wake up. Thus, as a fairly light sleeper I am bolt-upright and wide-awake every morning at 6:30 prompt; really great when Hussein has been on Skype till 4am anyway. In terms of the computer he is actually much better than Iona’s and Charlie’s roommates. Charlie’s regularly games till the early morning, whereas Iona’s sings to her boyfriend on Skype until 5am most nights. In Mongolian.
I have tried various ways of politely getting Hussein to wake up/turn off his bloody alarm for the first month or two but to no avail. Thus, I have recently been forced to adopt a tad more direct and loud method:
“OHHMYGODD HUSSEIN, TURN. OFF. YOUR. SODDING. PHONE.”
It seems to be working a bit better so far.
He then moodily and noisily gets up and puts the kettle on (for his aprеs-pray brew). Meanwhile I try and get back to sleep, this is often quite an optimistic goal as having the words ‘Allah Akbar’ shouted, sung and muttered half a metre away from my head frankly makes it impossible.
After he prays, he slurps his tea at a quite incredible volume, spits into the kitchen sink a few times then loudly calls his friends to organise what he’s doing today. And that is just the morning…
For 3 and a half months I have lain awake listening to this ritual, and I can confirm that it has slowly driven me mad. Each slurp or bit of phlegm that he spits into the sink really is a form of torture.
Hussein has also recently taken to making posters to tell what he wants me to do (I would like to add that the vast majority of the mess is his and not mine). The brilliant thing about them is that, for some reason, he writes them in English. With hilarious mistakes.
His first poster, which annoyingly I didn’t take a picture of, read:
YOU CLEAN TABLE!!! WE ARE NOT DIRTY PIG!!!
The second was placed at head-height above the bin:
… Thanks Hussein!
Ah well, only 10 days till home! I have already ordered several meals from Mother Reynolds- the first? Roast beef, Yorkshire Puddings, every vegetable available, lashings of gravy and finished off with a huge Sticky Toffee Pudding.
To conclude, my tour in Tyumen has been an experience that I will never forget. I have genuinely met some of the kindest and nicest people, and their generosity and hospitality has been amazing. A big thanks to Diana, Alex, Ksenia, Sasha and many more people who have really made us feel welcome. It has made me genuinely appreciate home and the UK; until you spend so long in a place so alien and unlike home I don’t think you can ever appreciate it. My 3 aims that I set out to fulfil before I left for Tyumen sadly didn’t all go quite as planned:
1) Become fluent at Russian:
Getting there but a long way to go yet…
2) Get a ‘manly-amount’ of chest hair:
Slight improvement. However, if -33 doesn’t put hairs on my chest then God help me.
3) Get a Russian girlfriend:
… No comment.
I would like to thank Charlie, Iona and Rob very much, I am utterly amazed none of us have punched each other.
I leave Tyumen on the 20th, and by 15th January I’ll be hitting up Moscow. It’s going to be very different. Thank you to anyone who has read my blog, it now has way over 2000 views which is pretty nuts, I hope you have enjoyed it… So far!