Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 79. There are too few workers and too many idlers

It is amazing how many things depend on who one shares a room in a dorm with! I have said more than once already, that first year students experience stress with two poles: positive - joy, as they got rid of their parents' control and decide by themselves what, where, how and many other ones; and a negative pole - they got into absolutely different surrounding, which is rather often aggressive. Living in a dorm is a very aggressive surrounding. Someone feels, like fish in water; and for someone that just does not do. For instance, I, your most humble servant, after my first experience of life in a dorm, about which I wrote in the essay "A mini-dorm", could not live there anymore and was renting apartments during the years of my study, more often alone, rather seldom I shared it with someone.

Generally speaking, there were not many cases, when I shared an apartment with someone: with Ilgam Gasanov in my first year, with Dimka Mkheidze - in my second year, and with Petka Kozlov we stayed for about three month in a building, where there was a canteen in Vesennyaya street. We liked it there, but Zhenka Romashov played a mean trick on Peter and me. He used to visit us quite

often and agreed with the landlord about an exchange of that wonderful "stalinka" apartment to his wife's apartment in Prokopievsk. Petka and I almost killed him for that, as we had to leave the place. When I shared an apartment with Peter, he practically never ate at home. We lived in the center of the city, there were lots of places to eat at around, and most importantly, in our building there was a so much loved by students canteen, about which I had already written in the essay "Murder will out". And I loved to fry potatoes on lard and with crumb ham, brisket, bacon or any other smoked food added to the potatoes; at worst sausages would do, if chopped into small wheels. It came out wonderfully delicious, especially if to have on the top of all that sweet tea with lemon. Yes, I almost forgot, as a side dish to potatoes Bulgarian canned bell pepper was good; and it had to be Bulgarian and not Hungarian. At that time both kinds were available, but Bulgarian bell peppers were big and pulpy, cut lengthwise and covered with rich tomato sauce.

Bulgarian canned bell pepper was sold in metal cans, and the Hungarian ones in seven hundred grams glass jars. So, Peter went to the canteen downstairs for dinner and usually brought a couple of meat pies when coming back, as they were wonderful there. However, as soon as I started frying potatoes with grilled meat according to my favorite recipe, Petka, even though he was full, started wheedling me, he offered me various things in exchange of an opportunity to join the dinner, for instance, the very meat pies, or he would bring a bottle of wine he was keeping in a safe place. Of course, I gave my agreement, but not right away. I lingered for appearance's sake and in order to boost my ego in my own eyes, because it was a useless thing to demonstrate my ego in front of Petka, as he had known me inside out. To cut it short, we strictly observed the ritual: he was praising me and my culinary talents; he was saying that I could mix ingredients in such a special way, that when they were cooked one's head was spinning. Deep in my mind I was delighted, but did not show that and was saying that he was such a loafer, and pointed out his wastefulness. I gave him mathematical computations of the calculation of the cost of the meals I made and the cost of Petka's lunches and dinners at the canteen. All in all that was the same song with a refrain, and it was repeated every time.

Soon all conventions were observed, the fried potatoes was ready, and we laid the table in our room, though the landlord allowed us to use the kitchen and the dishes. So Peter arranged the plates and demonstratively wiped the goblets and forks. We had a swell dinner, even though without fruit.
We were sipping the wine, prolonging the pleasure. We were saying mellifluous toasts, in which we were praising one another, and that was also a part of the very song with the refrain. After dinner Petka took the dishes to the kitchen and started whining that I was a lazybones and that I was shirking the work of washing the dishes, and I was talking back. Everything was fine and always the same, nevertheless it was rich with emotions and different phrases, which were in unprintable language and very sophisticated. Those evenings were rare, but both of us enjoyed them. However Petka did not react on my saury fish soups. I still cannot get it why. Generally speaking in our case the saying: "There are too few workers and too many idlers" is not appropriate, unlike the case of Sergey Zakharov.

Right after entering the institute Sergey received a bed in a dorm and was very happy about that. Sergey's room mates turned to be nice guys. They were sociable, and comfortable to share a room with, which is really very important. They lived comfortably till December. Parties, preparations to classes, everything was done together and in mutual agreement. Though, Sergey remembered one December night. Frankly speaking there were also other nights in November and October; he noticed that his room mates were not eager to cook in the room. That time he was short on cash and decided to cut down expenses and to eat at home for a couple of days before his stipend. And heavy frost outdoors did not inspire to go to a canteen. All the guys were in the room, and Sergey started asking each of them individually. And he explained why he was conducting the plebiscite. The first happened to be Igor Shipilov to be asked: "Igor, are you going to eat?" - "No, I will go to the ulcer". Ulcer was the students' name for a canteen. Then Sergey addressed Misha Kalinin with the same direct question, which was put point-blank: "Misha, and you, are you going to eat?". Mishka's sister studied in her forth year at the Therapy Department, and she fed up her brother and looked after him in general, so Misha also said: "No, I will go to my sister and eat there". Only Aleksandr Mishenko was left unasked. Sergey knew already the answer Sergey would give, but that was the character Sergey had, he just could not finish the plebiscite without asking even the last one person; and what if he wanted to eat in the room and would help Sergey a little bit with making dinner.

However Sergey's hopes were not justified and his most unwelcome premonitions came true, to Sergey's question: "Sasha, and would you like to eat?", Sasha also said: "No, I will go to my brother". Everybody knew Sasha's brother, who had only hungry and angry roaches in his base unit at another dorm. There was even a joke that he on purpose multiplied them. So everybody burst into laughter when heard Sasha's answer. Well, there was nothing else to be done.

After having a good laugh Sergey started peeling potatoes. He was peeling very carefully. Potato peels were coming off in fine serpentine, Sergey was economical. Sergey, like me, loved saury fish soup. He put the potatoes to boil on a stove, and when the water boiled he put bay leaves into the saucepan. He knew that a sauri fish soup without bay leaves was like a wedding without music. Black pepper was a must. Then there was salt and a can of saury fish. Sergey poured some water from the saucepan into the empty can, washed it from inside, and poured the water back into the saucepan in order that even a tiny gram of the can would not be wasted. And unthinkable fragrance was filling the room in. Sergey's mouth was watering, that much hungry he was. And suddenly all the participants of the plebiscite all together announced that they were not leaving and were demanding more than a poor man in Khodzha Nasreddin's parable, who was smelling a shish kebab's smell.
Igor, Sasha and Misha were demanding in addition to the wonderful saury fish soup smell the soup itself. In half and hour the saucepan was empty, and a loaf of bread was eaten.

And Sergey's wallet was virtually also empty. There were so many situations like that for the six years of study! There were more of them than you could count...

The plot of the story was given by Sergey Zakharkov.

2 November, 2011

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #21206220677

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content