- You can not to understand this very funny story, if you never have been seen in your life classical Russian bathhouse.
So, before I will write this story for you, I will to explain: What is a classical Russian bathhouse like?
And what Russian venik like? See this photo:
What does mean "VENIK", which Russian people use in their bathhouse (on Russian - "banya")?
A Russian country bathhouse is a log-hut, which they used to built without any blueprints (plans), keeping it all in their memory. There were built by laying horizontal rows of
Russian bathhouse opens with a small dressing-room where one gets undressed, then there comes a steam-room with a stove inlaid with stones. To heat the room there is no
better way than birch logs! To make the bathhouse properly heated hot water should be poured on the stones to fill the room with steam. When the bathers have warmed themselves
sufficiently they may start "steaming" themselves on special sweating-shelves or wide wooden steps. There are usually three or four shelves, the higher the shelf is, the
hotter it is there.
The steaming is accomplished with a venik for which there is no English equivalent, so the rough approximation would be "a bundle of green-leafed birch twigs", without which
the whole ritual would lose half of its effect. This way of bathing and steaming is favoured in Russians villages.
Russian bathers lay sweating and steaming in heat on shelves. They would be sweeping hot steam with a bunch of green twigs onto their bodies. When they grew too hot and weak to be able to remain there any longer they would run out of the bathhouse naked, and jump into the river or any other could water. As matter of fact, bathhouses in Russia were usually built by the river or the lake. In winter bathers would run out and start rolling in the snow and rub
it into their bodies. After that they would return to the hot bathhouse again. Regular bathing Russian style make Russian people healthy and tenacious of life. (It is not
Humour, it is real Life).
What does mean "VENIK", which Russian people use in their bathhouse (on Russian - "banya")?<
VENIK - "a bundle of green-leafed birch twigs"
banya - bathhouse
Russian and American customs house
VENIK - "a bundle of green-leafed birch twigs",
which Russian people use in their bathhouse!
This funny story happened in real life with outstanding Russian satirist and writer Mikhail Zadornov.
This funny thing happened with famous Russian satirist in customs house, because
he took VENIK with him to USA. Mikhail narrated the story over the radio and on TV.
Modern Russian satirist Mikhail Zadornov was invited to come to the USA by an old friend of his, who emigrated to that country some ten or more years before. It is quite natural that when talking on the telephone, Mikhail wondered if there was anything special he could to bring for his friend from Russia. The latter happened to have just built a nice log bathhouse. As birches were not to be found in the USA, he, naturally, wanted his Russian friend to bring him a couple of those birch "a bundle of green- leafed birch twigs" without which steaming and bathing would be not worth a pin. OK! But how should one declare the things in the customs? Both friends were well-aware that there existed no English equivalent for the implement, so they agreed to call them " Birch-bushes for the bath".
In the Russian customs house Mikhail Zadornov was asked, to his way of thinking, two most silly questions: what those things were and what was the purpose of taking them to the
USA. Satisfied with the responses given, the customs officer nonetheless wished the writer luck in passing the interview with other customs officers, especially in the USA.. While saying it, he grinned. When Mikhail opened his case in an American customs house the objects were
thoroughly and scrupulously examined. Having never seen anything of the sort before, the customs officer asked the same questions:
- What are these?
- Birch bushes.
- Why did you bring them to the USA?
- My friend asked me to.
- What are they for?
- For the bath.
- For the bath? How could they be used in the bath?
- I can switch my friend with them.
- So you are sadist, are you?
- Well, this bushes can be used to switch myself with.
- Ah, you are a masochist then.
Unable to make head or tail of it, the customs officer was finally obliged to telephone Zadornov's friend. It was long distance call and quite expensive. But as it turned out, it
was no flim-flam and Zadornov's American friend, a rich and influential person as he was, verified everything the Russian writer said. Only then the bewildered customs
officer ventured to let Zadornov pass. And it was at that moment that the latter recalled the Russian customs officer's grin. Back