Mr. Shoba was recently in the spotlight at the festival of fire-fighters — held in Minsk′s Gorky Park. Like a fairy tale hero, he walked among the crowd driving great attention. Holding a wooden ladder in one hand and a wire brush in the other, he wore a tall black hat, a black belt with a bright buckle, black gloves and his face was black with soot. This guarding of the city′s chimneys smiled for the cameras, showing his snow-white teeth. Denis Shoba is, indeed, a chimney-sweep.
For more than 5 years, Denis has surveyed Minsk from the highest roofs and from those of smaller private houses while cleaning the chimneys. "I′m a chimney-sweep — a controller of chimney and gas equipment employed by the Unitary Enterprise Anti-Fire Works. Of course, people call me simply a chimney-sweep. I prefer this word as it explains exactly what I do — clean chimneys. It is difficult to say how Denis came to his profession. His uncle may have inspired him as he also works as a chimney-sweep. Denis himself is fond of heights; he used to work at aircraft repair plant.
Denis speaks of his job with huge enthusiasm, "It is not a dirty job but I have to deal with a lot of soot. Mostly, I have to clean ventilation outlets. I find so many different things up there! Jackdaws make their nests in ventilating shafts and then hide their treasures in there. I′ll soon be able to open a museum with my findings. When I sweep the chimneys of private houses, people are very grateful. Chimney-sweeps are local celebrities like pop stars!"
We had to end our interview with Denis as we were surrounded by so many people wanting to speak to him; according to superstition, touching a chimney-sweep′s buttons brings your wishes true. Setting his hat upon his head, he shook my hand in farewell and wiped the sweat from his cheek — spreading the soot about. Only his mobile number — with the inscription "Denis chimney-sweep" — in my notebook could convince me that he was real.