Usual experience becomes legend
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Usual experience becomes legend

July 28, 2020

Norilsk residents raised hens in bathrooms, and grew potatoes at the oil depot.

Some urban legends develop by themselves over decades. For some people, they are part of life, while others doubt that some things could have happened quite recently.

The director of the Yubileiny cultural and leisure center Inna Davydova has been living in Norilsk since the age of three. In its part called Kayerkan, to be exact. Her childhood fell on the late 70s – early 80s. At that time, according to Inna, the lack of opportunity to go to the mainland or just to bring some new joys into their lives, pushed people to unexpected ventures.

“I heard, and more than once, that some Kayerkan residents bred real hens and geese in their bathrooms”, she said. “In the late 70s, in order to buy chicken meat, you had to stand in a huge queue – if the meat luckily got into the stores. It was rumored that the bathrooms of the hens breeders were all set according to the rules: shelves, awnings and other attributes of chicken coops. I don’t know whether it was true or not, but the idea that meat and eggs could always be at hand for the family table amused the people for a long time”.

A little later, in the 80s, a story about a potato farm, which was located at an oil depot, not far from the Norilsk – Alykel highway, went by word of mouth.

“As we know, it is difficult to grow something in the open field on our frozen ground even in summer. At the tank farm, potatoes were grown in large wooden boxes, in warmed soil and gave their fruits. I think that if that was true, people were engaged in such a business not to make money, but for pleasure. The harvest served rather as a bonus after the work done”, said Inna Davydova.

Talking about her northern childhood, the director of Yubileiny recalled that a lake had been located on the site of the cultural and leisure center she is running now. It is also difficult to imagine, but little Inna and her friends rode homemade rafts there. By the way, this year the Yubileiny CLC is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

Coupons, which were used to buy many things in Norilsk, including clothes and even carpets, are gradually becoming one more urban legend. And the opportunity to exchange such a scarce carpet coupon for a rare stamp also seems unbelievable now. Many people collected stamps. In some families, stamps albums are still kept.

“I love my city, I love Kayerkan”, Inna Davydova says. “As a child, I was surrounded by amazing people, and the way of life of those years seems very sincere and happy, despite any difficulties. I would not be surprised if everything that was said as impossible at that time turns out to be pure truth”.

Text: Yulia Gubeladze, Photo: open sources and Inna Davydova’s personal archive

July 28, 2020

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