My time on a Russian TV show!
02 August, 2017
This week I have had the rather surreal experience of being involved in a Russian TV documentary. My friend and fellow Liden & Denz student, Martin, was the star of a documentary series on Moscow 24 focusing on foreign students studying in Russia. He asked me if I wanted to participate and I thought it would be too good an opportunity to miss. During the filming, I got to experience lots of interesting aspects of Russian culture, both traditional and modern.
The first day of filming saw us trying ‘roller skiing’. This sport which, along with roller skating, is popular in Russia, involves attaching small wheeled skis to your feet and then, with the help of poles, attempting to elegantly ‘ski’ along the pavement. While others in the group seemed to adapt naturally to the skis I found it considerably harder. Indeed, the Moscow camera crew seemed to find my constant falling very funny. While roller skiing races are sometimes visible in Gorky Park I don’t think I will be attempting them anytime soon.
On our second day of filming we were driven to a ‘dacha’ (summer house) in the Moscow region. Our first activity was fishing. Fishing is a common pastime among Russians during the summer especially when they go to their dachas. We used fly-fishing poles to attempt to catch the fish but it proved too difficult. After nearly two hours of failures we eventually gave up and returned to the lakeside dacha.
We were then treated to a traditional Russian salad: Dressed Herring. Our salad literally featured a herring with a small carrot-based hat and a dress made of beetroot and onions. Other ingredients in the salad included potatoes, carrots and lots of mayonnaise. This dish is popular throughout Eastern Europe and is served as a ‘zakuska’ (appetiser) at ‘Novi God’ (New Year’s Celebrations). While the purple and white salad looked enticing it was a bit too pungent for my mild English tastes.
Finally, we filmed a scene in a traditional Russian ‘banya’ (sauna). Banyas are very popular in Russia and common in summer dachas. They have a number of health benefits and Russians have evolved a number of traditions to accompany the heat. One of these includes using ‘venik’ (dried birch leaves) to hit and massage each other to improve circulation. While this was occurring we also wore small felt hats to ensure our heads didn’t get too hot. Of all the things we tried for the documentary this was by far the thing I enjoyed the most. I would recommend a banya experience to anyone visiting Russia.
This post was brought to you by Tom, currently studying at Liden & Denz