Uncle Kolya: Zero Point hermit’s story
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Uncle Kolya: Zero Point hermit’s story

August 17, 2022

Cigarettes with a mouthpiece, two ZILs on the go, a garage, scrap metal, mutts and memories - this is how Uncle Kolya has been living for almost half a century.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The man has an apartment in Norilsk, but he is staying where he worked almost all his life – in the industrial zone, on the site of a garage that was disbanded many years ago.

Now, when according to the renovation program, the territory is likely to go under the tractor, Nikolay Andreyevich will have to move. The Norilsk hermit’s story was learned by his namesake, the This Is Taimyr photographer, Nikolay Shchipko.

Uncle Kolya comes from the mainland, from the Achinsk region. He says that his parents took him to Norilsk in 1966.

“My three grandfathers and a great-grandfather were prisoners here. I saw the two of them later. They were told to be given 25 years, but I didn’t find anything in the archives”, recalls Nikolay Andreyevich.

After school, Uncle Kolya went to work as a car mechanic in the trade department garage. He also trained as a driver there.

“I drove the authorities, in the executive committee, at the plant, started working in the garage and then got tired of carrying bosses”.

Nikolay Andreyevich has two adult children, living on their own, his wife died 16 years ago. In the garage, he worked until retirement: both as a mechanic and an auto electrician. He says that the boss was his friend, who died.

After his retirement, he also built his metal garage there – in the place where all his life has passed – there is lighting, a stove. After the collapse of the USSR the enterprise was closed, all the cars were taken off.

“I am left here alone. I have an apartment, but I don’t want to live there. All my life was at work. On weekends, I gathered friends, took a stove and went hunting and fishing”, says Nikolay Andreevich.

He says that he traveled all over Taimyr. And now uncle Kolya has two ZILs on the move, he restored them himself:

“I love cars to death. I come in the cold, insert the handle – a kick, half a turn, and drive off”.

If the territory goes under demolition, he says that he will leave for the mainland. Maybe in Yeniseisk. He dreams of going on this journey on his own, on his two ZILs. He won’t leave them.

You can learn more about famous northerners, the plant and memorable places in Norilsk from the materials of our projects History Spot and Territory Genius.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

August 17, 2022

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