The buses, trains, and planes have all arrived from Novosibirsk, Beijing, and San Francisco, and our team is finally assembled! Once we were all together, Brendan led the Ramblers on a tour of the city. We visited the Old Fort where the city was founded in 1604, enjoying what were for him and Matt the warmest day they’ve experienced this year!
We got to see Tomsk University’s facilities, including a science lab that reminded all of us of Harry Potter, and saw the city’s central market. Among a vast collection of Adidas products and really cool towels, we found a market where a wide variety of meat was display, including pig faces! (Traditionally used to make a Russian meat/gelatin dish, we used ours to make an American prank on Brendan and Gillian.)
We also caught a performance by world famous puppeteer, Vladimir Zakharov. Down a dirt road in Tomsk where houses have no running water, Zakharov has built a theater entirely out of wood and filled it with his own homemade puppets. Many of them have motion sensors and talk to you as you walk by. Zakharov honored us with a fantastical puppet show involving spiders, caves, and lost magic earrings. Afterwards we talked to his puppets and enjoyed his gorgeous theater.
In celebration of Gillian’s 24th birthday, we met up with some of Brendan’s local friends for shashlik (traditional russian barbeque) at the Akademgorodok (academic city, a suburb of Tomsk.) After the barbeque we all went dancing at Liner and Contra, two of Tomsk’s premier dance clubs. Dance moves were exchanged and general boogieing was had to the tunes of Russian techno and american pop megamixes.
Besides having a grand time in Tomsk, we’ve also spent the last week playing a lot of music together. We hit it off very well and all taught each other songs. After developing a repertoire we threw a big ol’ hootenanny at Brendan’s apartment, where we debuted our band and jammed out with Russian musicians. Everyone had fun and no one got hurt!
In addition, Brendan and Gillian both performed last night at the local bar/cafe, Matador. The place was packed with Brendan’s Tomskian friends and everyone was mesmerized by their incredible sets. A Russian webzine, Afisha, wrote up a neat review of the concert – in Russian! We’ll have some videos of their show and an English translation of the article up as soon as we get a chance.
So far the trip is five stars out of four. In other words, awesome! Next stop: Elista, chess capital of the world!
Over and out,