|2004-10-28 - What do people in Zyryanka do?
What do people in Zyryanka do on their free time?
It´s the 26th of October, temperature is -23°C at midday, it´s overcast and a slight, but icy cold wind from the north and we´re huddling up in our apartment wondering how we´re going to be able to get out of the apartment and start skiing and sleeping outdoors, fulltime. Especially since we than will not be able to sit in front of the TV watching Mexican soap operas!
Pretty much all living quarters in Zyryanka are heated with coal. Heating which originates from one of the smoky and smelly coal stations which are spread throughout the settlement. The closer one lives to the station, the better heating one has. Thus, since we live just a stones throw from a station and even though we have our windows open all day, we still have 17°C inside! Our great friend Sirjosa (epithet for everyone named Sergey) lives at the end of a coal line and hence his apartment is far colder! Nevertheless, I have to say, even though I am generalizing, (something I will do throughout this dispatch) everyone we´ve visited so far, have a very high indoor temperature. Virtually around 25°C. Unbearably hot as you well can understand! And they´ve all got the TV switched on!
Apparently, watching one of the three commercial TV-channels that are running, is a favorite past time. There´s TV-sets everywhere. In shops, at the hairdresser, at the bakery, at the office and in most homes. Most of them showing endless soap operas over and over again. The Mexican soap operas seems to be the most popular ones. Since Sirjosa fixed us up with a TV, and since we´re here to study the behavior of the local folks, we watch TV daily! Except an enormous amount of long commercials, and really bad ones only based on sex and status, there´s only musical shows, talk shows, competitions, violence, American movies and an endless variety of soap operas. Pretty much all rubbish. Just like back home. We don´t understand a lot either. Since our Russian ain´t good enough. All American movies that are broadcast during the weekends, are all dubbed into Russian. And it seems like it is the same people doing the dubbing all the time. For example, this weekend, we first saw a movie with Nicolas Cage, followed by another with the bushman in The Gods Must Be Crazy. Both of them stars, had the same dubbed Russian voice!
It is almost expected that one wants to watch TV during a visit. For instance, when we visited the yakut Anatolij and his family the other day, to join them hunting rats, they first of all, when we arrived, brought us directly inside in front of a TV! And since Zyryanka is a traditional settlement when it comes to the roles of men and women, since women therefore do all the work at home no matter what professional job they have, the women seem to watch endless TV. And smoke. We´ve met very few people not smoking in Zyryanka. Both men and women smoke endlessly. Consequently, they don´t seem to be bothered at all by all the black, bad smelling and dusty coal smoke which penetrates everything. For Johan and myself, it is bad quality poison. When we heard, the other month on the shortwave, that Russia had signed the Kyoto Treaty, we both smiled and felt sad. If Zyryanka has to follow those guidelines, it will not survive. There´s no doubt about that. There´s neither money, a will or a possibility to do these needed changes.
Anyhow, up until this might happen, Zyryanka continues to watch Mexican soap operas!