Monday, July 20, 2009

The Old Swimming Hole

When we were in Siberia, Tanya looked up a couple of friends she had grown up with and we went for a picnic to the river by her old village where she learned to swim. The river where all the kids swam was a branch of the Yennessee, which formed a sort of delta in the area. Her friend Volodya waded into the river but said the water was about +4 C and so all declined the honour of swimming that day.

Her village was called Kalyagino but when she was 18, the government decided that a new dam created a flood risk and moved the entire village. People moved to a number of nearby villages and Tanya's family went to Belii Yar. Buildings were moved or demolished. In the case of log houses (most of them), they were dismantled with each piece numbered and then reassembled in the new location.

Every spring, all the women in the village took their mats, rugs and carpets to this rock and washed them in the stream.

This huge grain storage, handling and cleaning facility is typical of the Soviet technology that dragged their agriculture so far behind they had to import wheat from Canada to feed their people. Horizontal instead of vertical was the logic of the day. Why they didn't all starve is beyond me. Their agricultural scientists were useless, partly because they had no ability to travel and learn from the rest of the world and partly because the higher ups in the system took all the credit for everything, so why bother.

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