By Roger Took
Russian Lapland, a quarter of wonderful contrasts. right here lies the final real desert of Europe, a wealthy and pristine atmosphere teeming with poultry and animal lifestyles. yet right here too lie the darkish, satanic turbines of the previous Soviet Union and the rotting remnants of nuclear submarines. operating with Reindeer is the 1st account in over a century to explain existence during this harsh yet appealing land. residing between distant reindeer-herding and looking households, Roger Took spends a decade following the lives and traditions of the indigenous Lapps, or Saami. He meets pioneering villagers descended from medieval Novgorod fur-traders who're now studying to deal with the recent financial system, and the lads and ladies initially pressured north to mine Russian Lapland's brilliant mineral wealth yet are actually unemployed and stranded. averting the nonetheless vigilant safeguard providers, he explores the naval bases the place nuclear-powered submarines are mendacity dangerously ignored. His encounters with the land and its population are dramatic and comical in addition to emotionally aggravating and bodily harmful. relocating among the strains of the reliable histories, dealing with laborious Arctic stipulations, he writes compellingly, providing a shiny account of a different a part of Europe.
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Extra resources for Running With Reindeer: Encounters In Russian Lapland
We paid tribute and taxes to whoever claimed to have been granted authority over us. Then in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we were finally separated by national borders because governments didn't like our migration traditions. But we're still one nation, although we speak different dialects — sometimes incomprehensible to each other — and I like to think we can all still look to one another in rough times. ' On the road to Lovozero we passed convoys of troops on manoeuvre, with lines of trucks and army personnel carriers parked off the road or near openings to the forest.
A visitor to Murmansk would have to go through every door to be any the wiser. Bread shop, pharmacy, book shop, dental clinic, all looked the same. Almost the only queues I encountered were at the Murmansk railway station where there was great demand for tickets to the Black Sea for the traditional family holiday. In the shops, however, now that there was plenty of produce on offer, the renowned old-style queues no longer existed. Only occasionally did I encounter shelves which were bare but for dry biscuits in polythene bags or an oversupply of second-rate Russian sweets.
Beyond the desk a babushka, the administrator's mother, sat in a curtained area in front of a television. The volume was turned up high but she seemed not to be watching. 'The herdsmen from outlying villages now bring some of their deer here for slaughter locally,' the administrator continued helpfully. 'People from the villages also bring salmon, mushrooms and berries. ' To my surprise she then rattled off, quite unprompted, a list of berries and the better known mushrooms. I asked how people got to and from the remote villages of the Peninsula's interior.
Running With Reindeer: Encounters In Russian Lapland by Roger Took