I reached Tyumen from St. Petersburg late at night. It was a three and a half hour flight by Aeroflot. The Siberian chill was getting to me as I reached the airport. It was 8 degrees. I reached my hotel and just crashed out. Next day was foodie day tasting stroganoff, Russian salads and soups. My window would open abruptly at night as the chilly wind would howl into my room and scatter everything inside. My main aim was to see Rasputin’s house in Siberia and so, I hopped into a taxi for a two-hour ride from my hotel to the very street where Rasputin lived with his family in the early 19th century. It was the best house on the street being cream blue in colour with exquisite wood carvings. A marble stone marked it as Rasputin’s house. I told my taxi driver to drive me back. On the way, I captured the wild expanse of the Siberian deserts with streams flowing through the brown fields.
Next stop was Sleskhoz Academy, City Park and Zanamensky Cathedral. Here, I bumped into a local priest with a flowing white beard who greeted me with joy. I told him to pray for my father’s death and he very politely asked me to go into the cathedral and pray for my father’s soul which I duly did. I, then, wandered into the City Park which was full of joy rides for kids, swings and many such fun things for the children to enjoy. This was a wonderful experience for me as it reminded me of my visit to the Pushkar ka Mela when I went there last year. There was a McDonald’s bang in the middle of the city park where I had lunch. Then it was a visit to the academy where inquisitive Russian students were bustling down the road to learn new lessons and new crafts.
For me though, the highlight of the day was Rasputin’s house. I had seen so many documentaries on the man and his grip on the Russian monarchy and today was the day that I came face-to-face with the place where he once lived.
Russians love their soup and salad. They also like to drown their soups and salads with sour cream which is in great supply in the restaurants here. But it was Rasputin who finally made my day.