Norilsk is a city in the very north of Siberia, which year after year beats many records: in the lowest temperatures, in the strongest winds, in the worst environmental conditions. How do local people live there? Let me tell you since I was born here and lived most of my life…
1. We almost see no light in winter.
We call it ‘Polar night’. Officially it last from 30th of November to 13th of January. In fact, it feels much longer. From October to March at least. There is only a couple of hours when it gets not completely dark. Usually at this time you are at work/school so you can not even see this light. You wake up – it’s dark, you go to school – it’s dark, you come back from school – it’s dark, you go to bed – it’s dark. This is how I remember all my school years.
2. In summer, opposite, night does not exist.
It’s ‘Polar Day’ in summer. It lasts usually from May till August. No darkness at all. 24 hours of light. Some people do their best to go to South this period since it’s so hard for them to fall asleep. However, I enjoy this time a lot!
3. We do our best not to leave our cars outside…
…otherwise, you will hardly find it next morning.
4. Extremely low temperatures.
-40°C happens every winter. With the extremely strong wind it feels usually 10 degrees colder. Absolute maximum that I have experienced here was -54°C. Norilsk is in top 20 the coldest towns in Russia.
5. Air-pollution is killing people and make them suffer a lot.
Average lifespan in Norilsk is 10-15 years lower than in the rest of Russia. Around 50-55 years for men. It also make you get a lot of diseases in early age: such as asthma, blood diseases, eczema and so on… I remember very well how many times I choked outdoors, when all the smoke from factories was blown into our area by the wind. I had to cover my face with mittens and hardly breathe.
6. But nobody cares, we just live our lives and enjoy.
Guys are playing football outside when it is -40°C, children are playing war or just lying in the snow. Yes, these are our harsh Norilsk entertainments…
7. You literally can not escape from here.
We call the rest of Russia as a ‘Mainland’, even though we do not live in an island. Why? Because the only way to get to Norilsk is by flight. We do not have roads that go here, no railway connection with the ‘Mainland’. In summer, however, you have one more option: to get from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk by train (4165 km and 3 days), from Krasnoyarsk take a ferry to Dudinka (1989 km and 4 days) and then bus/taxi to Norilsk (90 km).
8. Surrounded by bears.
Polar and brown bears. Yes, we have both. Polar ones go hundreds of kilometers to South to find some food, which is almost impossible in tundra. Sometimes they get to the city, sometimes attack people who wander outside the city.
9. The city where a hope dies…
‘Nadezhda’ (Надежда) is the name of one of the main factories here. The word also means ‘a hope’. Almost everyday you can see a sign with the strikeout word ‘hope’ and that makes you feel even more depressive living in this town…
10. One of the windiest in the world.
I’m not exaggerating at all, sometimes the wind knocks you down and drags you a lot of meters, and you can’t do anything about it. The video below was shot in Norilsk.