What do you call it when you confess your love to a person and the next day fall in love with someone else? Have to confess that I cheated on Tobolsk the next day I left it, right when I stepped off the train in Surgut.
Surgut stole my heart with it’s people starting from Andrey, the ivory carving artist, who met me at the train station, took my huge backpack and drove me to his office.
Have to say that I’m not spoiled with people meeting me at the train station or seeing me off. And here I meet a young gentleman waiting for me sadly without a bunch of flowers but I forgave him =)
In his office Andrey carved me a starlet, which is a symbol of prosperity. The locals here still consider starlet caviar to be a desert, smth like swiss chocolate for us.
This is another grand thing about people in Siberia – they all give you presents. Small or big, one or several, but you wouldnt leave the the house without a present. My backpack is growing rapidly as they love presenting books.
The biggest amount of books I got was yesterday at Surgut fine art museum. Svetlana, the director of the museum gave me 5 books, all beautiful and heavy. By the end of the trip I’ll open the library or even two.
The whole day yesterday I spent driving around with Andrey, we are both smokers and coffee drinkers. Too bad he’s married =)
And the highlight of yesterday was meeting Natalia, a beautiful young lady who came to Surgut in 2001, fell in love with the city and stayed. Now she’s the head of the printing house. But the most amazing thing about her is that she collects the traditional arts, which might seem weird to you but are very precious and symbolic here like shoes made from the fish skin, the toys made from the duck beak or the ward make of the swan leg and decorated with beads.
Wondering around the villages in the search for traditional artists who create such things Natalia got into quite a couple of interesting situations and heard lot’s of stories that she loves sharing.
Here’s my favorite:
Once a big big boss came to Surgut for hunting, the smaller bosses took him outside the city and showed him what do they understand by having good time. Obviously with dozens of vodka bottles involved.
On the way back to the airport the small bosses realized that they didn’t get a present for the big big boss and decided to stop on the highway when they saw a local khanty selling staffed squirrels. Just to add that local tribes make stuffed animals that they catch in woods and sell them to people. So the smaller bosses decided that it’s gonna be an amazing present right from the local woods and will decorate the big big boss’s study and remind him about this trip.
So they bought a squirrel, stuck it in the suitcase and went to the airport.
In the airport the big big boss thanked the small bosses shook their hands and for some reason decided to have a look at the presented animal.
When he opened a suitcase, instead of the stuffed animal he found a dead body of a squirrel, which was frozen before and after spending some time in the warm place melted.
No need to explain how angry he got thinking that his subordinates played a trick with him.
Would love to find that khanty who tricks people like that selling dead frozen animals =)
P.S. sorry but no pics as I forgot the card reader in the hostel and I’m writing this post from the local coffee place. Yes Surgut has a choice of good coffee places. I could totally live here!