Russian People, Their Characters and Culture: From Negative to Positive Thinking
I will not talk about Moscow. It's another planet. It's rich and bustling, not real Russia. Actually, the real Russia is very different, too… every corner of this country has its own very special features. As well as the common ones.
People in Russia are not rich. Sometimes it's not easy to understand where the typical countryside town and its citizens get money… USSR factories producing tanks and missiles happily collapsed with USSR. The online technologies and e-commerce are still funny words from the TV screen. Agriculture felt good until recently, but now it survives, too.
People do not like to hustle to do business or take their careers forward. The most active people go to Moscow, where they can earn much more. Some stay in their hometowns fighting for a better life. Most of the people just stay where satisfied with little money. It's easy when you remember the bad times of food shortage of the 1980-s and the anarchy of the 1990-s.
Some people still work on rare factories that they were not fully stolen during the 1990-s. Others work on government drinking tea one by one. Many people work in commerce selling something to each other and back. It gives stability and a false sense of security. You may take the mortgage for 25 years just to separate from parents.
Little money that towns earn usually goes to Moscow. That's why country people blame Muscovites for all their problems. However, only very special Muscovites get money from the provinces. They usually save them in off-shores in Panama and don't look for discounted products in Ashan. If you know what I mean.
Why it is like that? I think this is a kind of USSR heritage. That was the time when «one size fits all». People were not motivated to do extra work, because they got nothing for it. Lazybones and hard workers got the same money, same food, and the same apartments. If you raise a small crop, you will give it to the collective farm or «kolhoz». If you raise a huge crop, you will do the same. Should you work hard if you have nothing for it?
However, you had to work. My grandmother scolded me for reading books instead of growing cucumbers. She had not understood how this new capitalist world works even when we bought a big bag of potatoes for the whole winter. She counted every rubble and banned the word «mine». There were not mine in USSR, there's only ours!
People used to rely on the government in everything. The private property was forbidden, if you need to repair the pipeline, you should wait for a public plumber. Just do your everyday routine and the government will decide where you will live, work, and die. Simple. There are traces of that epoch everywhere.
Just imagine. The amazing town of Suzdal with 1000 years history… two-blocks house in the center with its own courtyard. There live normal Soviet people… not youth. They have no toilet in their apartments for 15000 USD, the only derelict shed leaning sideways with a hole in the floor.
- Why don't you built the new one?
- Yooou know, soooon… many years ago the Soviet Union built and repaired it. Then USSR has gone, so now there's no one around to do it…
- Why don't you do that by yourself?..
- By ourselves? What are you taaalking abouuut?
No money results in poor infrastructure. Have you heard about Russian roads? There are several newly built highways in Russia, however, the majority of normal roads are still full of potholes. There's even a famous joke about two main problems in Russia… fools and roads! Now, the third problem is the GosDep (Government of USA).
When you have no infrastructure, no internet and live at least several hours (sometimes days) from the closest town with pub and cinema, it's not easy to find good ways to spend your leisure time. So many people choose… alcohol.
There's a famous quote from Russian writer of 19th century: «Imagine that you wake up 200 years after… could you tell what Russians will still do? Drink and thieve».
Trying to understand Russians, just think about the main features of local life for the last 1 000 000 years. It was never easy. Severe climate with long and non-sunny winter. Now it's just not good for your mood and uncovered nose, but for many years people came on the verge of extinction due to a loss of the harvest. Cruel wars and revolutions. Should I say how many people Russia lost for at least 20th century? Tough everyday life. Many people still have no water or live in derelict houses.
How people survive in this society? Easy! They got stamina. And vodka. And the sense of humor! A lot of time to feel sad. Some national holidays to celebrate together. A lot of sad music and some merry jingles. Traditions, culture, and church that help people to stand together even against the world. Everything to find a sense of inner peace even if you are all screwed.
All those issues… they are real. But why people from other countries love Russians so much when they really come to Russia? Let's go to positive thinking from my American friend!
Everything is a mess in this world. While Russian write about negative sides of living in Russia, true American will tell you about his love to Russia in the next article… The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!
«I grew up fearing and hating the Russians. I was part of the brainwashed American society who loved to hate Russia but didn't know why. We were taught that the Russians were our enemy and we were threatened by them. We learned to hate communism and all communists. It makes me want to vomit just saying it!
When I first went to Russia, after all of my family and friends accused me of being a 'commie' and not understanding why I would even consider going there, between the airport and my hotel I started laughing... laughing at the insane idea that we were so afraid of these people. It was an almost third world to me.
I very quickly learned to love people. I understood and appreciated the culture and admired the ancient architecture and swam in the availability of music, ballet, and art. It was an amazing experience!
I never looked down my nose and thought, "our houses are bigger" or "we have more food in our markets"...none of that. What I did do was learn to enjoy simple recipes and dishes that tasted really good... perfect cooking and seasoning. Fresh stuff...no frozen tasteless shit I was used to.
Instead of eating with a 'TV tray table' on the couch while watching TV, we sat at elegant tables set with fine china and silverware, and decorated tables with candles, and wine (Russian champagne is amazing!) and we all sat together at the table and ate and talked and smiled and enjoyed every moment.
Russian Way to Celebrate New Year's Eve with the Family: Dacha, Christmas Tree, Dinner and Toasts
Ask me about Russia and I will tell you about the quality of life. About a society of happy and proud people. About people with not much money (like me) squeezing every ounce of pleasure out of their life.
Families in Russia had love... they helped each other, took great care of the children, and cared for their elderly parents. My kids don't even talk to me. I have a grandson that was born and he was 6 months old when I found out about him by accident on Facebook.
See what I mean!?
My ex-wife had dignity and class. She is still my friend and always will be. She still cares for me even many years after our divorce.
Her father told me once that he missed communism and I understood what he meant... I know what he missed. He was watching the 'New Russians' rape, pillage, and plunder his country and felt helpless to do anything.
There is talk about the Russian Soul. A lot of people who have lived there and gotten to know the country and the people usually feel the same as me. We 'got it' and 'feel it' and that will never change.
To be honest, I should have never left! I mean that... truly and honestly.
Be proud of who you are and where you are.»
Russian is not an easy country to understand even for Russians. There are millions of words and theories explaining one or the other part of Russian mentality, but the truth always slip through your fingers.
Do you want to explore one of the most complex, confounding and contradictory countries? The answer is easy… visit it!