It’s officially summertime in Siberia. It came rather suddenly—vegetation and flowers and kvass stands and bouncy castles and swarms of flies sprang up overnight, it seems. We had a glorious thunderstorm last week, crowds of lazy people descend upon the streets and parks for strolls, and I get slightly more sunburnt every time I go outside. At least once a week, there’s some kind of holiday (last week was Buryatia’s 90th Anniversary, the first day of summer, Children’s Day, and some kind of summer sport festival, and tomorrow is Russia Day– but I can’t seem to muster up much holiday spirit when they happen so frequently). Also, it’s hot.
Unfortunately, summer means departure, and I’m still not sure if I’m ready to leave. In the last couple weeks, I’ve bid farewell to two of my friends returning to Europe—and in addition to the pain of goodbyes, I had a glimpse into my own not-so-distant future, when I’ll have my own goodbye party, condense my whole life into a 20-kilogram suitcase, make one final trip to the airport, wave goodbye to dear friends, and leave Ulan-Ude behind.
I still have almost two weeks into which I can squeeze all sorts of experiences and adventures—and the time looks to be jam-packed—with the Test of Russian as a Foreign Language, with a possible visit to Arshan, with one last trip to Lake Baikal, with last-minute meetings with friends, with who-knows-what-else-will-pop-up. The blog will probably take a back-seat until I’m bored back at home. We’ll see. For now, I leave you with two images of my Siberian summer thus far.
An old Buryat man is walking with his two young grandsons. I don’t pay them much attention. Suddenly, I hear, “Нельзя! Фуууу!” (“Don’t—ewwwwww!). I look up to see one little boy clutching a dandelion. His brother is smiling: “Язык желтый,” he giggles. The boy with the flower sticks out his yellow tongue.
I’m walking in the park with a group of friends, eating ice cream and talking, when a wild babushka approaches (complete with flowered headscarf and death-glare). She stops short, directly in front of us, stares right at one of my friends and says, “Ой, дура!” for no apparent reason (“oy, idiot!”) and keeps walking, occasionally stopping to throw us a scathing look.