5 things I learned from my Siberian airbnb guest
Hosting a judo fighting-business building-entrepreneurial Russian Airbnb guest was a fun deal this summer.
Every once in a while you host an Airbnb guest that really changes your perception of the world. Daniil Kravtsov is one of those characters. It’s guests like Daniil that make me addicted to Airbnb. When you get a chance to host someone, take it.
Apart from friendship, Daniil presented the first opportunity to really grow my knowledge about Russia from a native’s perspective who understood technology entrepreneurship.
Daniil Kravtsov is the first Siberian I’ve ever met and he is certainly one of the most interesting people I’ve met thus far in my life. He spent the better part of his evenings giving me a better understanding of Russia. Apart from being a friendly guy, Daniil is also a small business owner in Tomsk, Siberia where he owns and operates bars with his partners, a talented programmer who entered competitions and won, and a serial entrepreneur. He started a new venture and was visiting silicon valley for a short stay on business. He had contacted me on the airbnb site asking to stay at our house. He spent time being raised in Kazakhstan which in itself deserves a much longer blog post. The airbnb process was seamless as always, or at least every time I’ve used it.
My fascination with central asia and the USSR was motivated by a few events like learning about 5000 polish orphans who migrated from Poland to India during World War 2, watching movies like Katyn and Lord of War which gave me short glimpses into the culture, and becoming enamored with Eastern European and Russian music upon hearing Balkan Beat Box.
- Judo Moves. Daniil spent an evening after Indian food teaching me Ko Uchi Gari, a Judo throw down move. He learnt Judo in Kazakhstan.
- Russian language has different rules on syntax. I initially used to think this meant that a phrase like Ti govorish pa russki? (do you speak Russian?) could be said 5! different ways. (120 different ways.) Daniil spent an evening clearing this up by showing that there is an accepted word order and it can change the meaning of a sentence. Given the language’s syntax freedom, I’ve come to wonder about the possibility of Russian programmers having a different approach to problems given the cognitive flexibility of Russian syntax or word order.
- Food Experience. As a south Indian I was raised eating spicy food. Upon sitting down for dinner at an Indian restaurant, I prepared us for the worst by having many glasses of water at our table in case Daniil had an averse reaction to the cuisine. He glanced over at me wondering what I was doing as if it was some weird ritual of mine before every meal. Daniil surprised me completely and had no trouble enjoying the food, especially naan and north Indian curries. Daniil gave me insights into Russian cuisines throughout Russia.
- Russia can be friendly to foreigners despite the media portrayal. Maybe it’s my readings into the region and me watching Ross Kemp on Gangs Russia Documentary that had me perceiving this differently. Russia got bumped up a few notches on my 193 country travel bucket list after Daniil cleared up a lot of my misconceptions.
- Rizzoma Rocks. Daniil is the founder of Rizzoma, a cool way to collaborate online. It lets you login with your gmail credentials. Here’s Daniil on his departure. Godspeed mate.