Akademgorodok “Academy Town”

(Tuesday 20th September 2011, written up 21st September 2011)
Today was more irregular verbs. I struggle with learning all the words but it’s necessary. While it is quite possible to communicate quite effectively speaking, or writing a limited vocabulary, it is absolutely necessary to be able to “receive” words without constantly going to the dictionary. It makes life hard, but there you are.
Today’s exercises are around the words for “To see”, “To pay”, “To ask” (beg or beseech) and “To clean” (or peel, as in peel fruit). The homework exercise is around some strange character who seems to be in love with potatoes! Also, apparently, the Russian Army have potato peeling competitions!
I’m trying not to be a tourist (I have so much homework that can’t afford the time), but it was such a beautiful day that I decided to join an excursion to “Akademgorodok”. The weather was sunny and the indicators on the buildings said it was 24 deg C.
“Akademgorok” means “Academy Town”. I want to say “City of Scientists”, but that isn’t quite right. It used to be a “closed” town which meant that most Russians weren’t allowed to go there, and you had no chance as a foreigner. It is a few kilometers from Novosibirsk, and we travelled there as passengers on one of the many little buses. These are a cross between a bus and a taxi. Although they are badged “Gaz” (a Russian manufacturer), they are obviously Ford Transits (or perhaps derived from) and seat 15 passengers. They run a fixed route but have no timetable. The driver waits at the terminal stop until the bus is full, or he decides to go. They operate with a fixed fair (35 Rub = 0.88 Eur). They will drop you along the route. They definately have stops to pick up passengers. The road to Akademgorodok is a busy 6 lane dual carriageway (think motorway, but with very variable surface, and side roads). On the way our driver was stopped by the police and fined for “exuberant driving” (my words). None of the other passengers seemed the least concerned. Just one more experience.
The transit van taxi/buses are interesting. I said that there is a flat fare. That isn’t surprising, what is surprising is how it is collected. The fare is 35 rubles. All the passengers get on and take their seats and the van sets off (maybe that should be “takes off”). The passengers collect the money themselves, and pass it up to the passenger who is sitting with his/her back next to the bulkhead, who then passes it through to the driver (who is probably using a mobile phone). If you don’t have the right money, you trade with your neighbours to get the change you need. If that doesn’t work, the driver exchanges money for change until it is all sorted. The whole operation takes place in motion! Can you imagine that working in London? Or for that matter anywhere in Britain? I don’t want to think what would happen if you tried to take a ride without paying. I suppose it might work if you were a charity-case, but not otherwise.
Akademgorodok is essentially a University campus in the woods. Once you are inside the town the roads are fairly quiet. The main road in was pretty peaceful. If you look at a map, you can see that it is not a huge place. It’s quite easy to walk round.

A man called “Lavrentev” is given the credit for founding the town.

The buildings are not particularly interesting architecturally. There is a “Hydrodynamic Institute” (anyone from Feltham remember the “Ship Tank”?), one of the main meeting buildings and library is known as “The house of scientists” and accommodation is provided in blocks of flats of various designs (nothing over 5 storeys tall). The streets have flower beds, and there are paths through the forest.

You can see it was autumn. The leaves on the trees are starting to turn. Akademgorodok must be a very pleasant place to live and work. I have been told it is popular, providing of course that you can find work there.

While we were there there was a market going on.They were selling all sorts of things. Cut flowers, potted plants, mushrooms and berries collected from the forest, fruit, clothes (felt boots, socks, jumpers), arty stuff, and loads of honey!

On the way home I stopped off near Lenin Square, and took a picture of this Compass monument in Novosibirsk. The heraldic animals are from the coat of arms of the city. There is one at each point of the compass. Around the base are the names of cities in Siberia. The message is “Novosibirsk is the centre of Siberia”.

When I got home, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the entrance hall of my flats. It’s not the most welcoming place, but it is clean. This is it on a sunny day. You can’t see it, but the “nose” on some of the stair treads is worn down to the reinforcing bars.

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