This evening – Россия-Матушка.

Всем привет и С Рождеством Христовым я Вас поздравляю!
Счастья и здоровья, блага всем желаю,
Святости, лукавства – в меру чтоб всего,
Радости, удачи. Плохого – ничего!


The very first thing to understand is that the genders are so clearly defined in Russia. The men all train, they shake hands strongly, they drink and they are nostalgic for the army days as the Brit private school men are nostalgic for schooldays. Where the average pub philosopher speaks of the SAS, the Russians talk of Spetznas. There is no place for weak men in Russia:

Women, on the other hand, are feminine in a strong, Slavic way and a comparison with French girls is interesting. To give you an idea of the femme situation in Russia, take the young lady in the photo below, put her in normal clothes, multiply her by about two thousand and that’s what you’ll run into on a typical day in any shopping street – it is total female overkill, not unlike death by chocolate. And I’ve yet to meet a Russian who is reticent more than ten minutes. That serious face breaks into a smile and the sun then shines:


… not quite like this:

1239896458zgK3UHQ[Quick quiz question – what is the cameraman in the foreground failing to do?]

The old ways mix with the new.  Selling kvas by the tanker [or cooking oil or petrol or whatever].  Have to smile – babushki in slippers in summer and boots in winter.  Nice stuff, that kvas:


Just as men are men and women are women, children are so stylized as children.  There may have been paedophilia but I never heard of it going on.  Families are the heartland and male and female are married.  Unfortunately, it’s too patriarchal and women can be treated badly. Mind you, the women are not weak and they have ways to make the men pay:


This is a beautiful example of people power below.  I haven’t a clue where or what but obviously the local council has blocked their living space and the residents are taking the matter into their own hands.  You’ll hear “Eto nash dvor”.  “It’s our yard/living space.”  You’ll hear “Zhiteli rayona”.  “[We’re] the residents of this area.”  The language is exactly as I remember it but obviously not usually as angry as this.  Sigh – if only we’d deal with iniquities at times:

The plethora of asphyxiating legislation hanging over from the Soviet era is largely ignored and it’s hard to control people.  One of the delights is to go to the forest; you light a fire anywhere:


… and you cook up shashliki, which you’ve marinaded for days.  Anyone who suggests that Russian kukhnia is bland doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Every food has different names for different varieties which are cooked in certain ways – it’s nearly as specialized as French cuisine and the result is both healthy and yum:


One must always follow that with a long stroll in the forest, maybe throwing sticks for the dog to fetch and just enjoying nature.  I miss that very much, lovely though our little woods are over here.


Obviously there are a few bad apples but in general, the kids have good hearts and are optimistic.  Here are a couple of them with a camera in the forest, saying nothing very much at all but taking a long time to say it:

The purpose of this post is not to give an overview – how can all those years be condensed into one post – but to give a closeup of life and language and the way people do some things , a few glimpses, that’s all:


Not all the men are like this:


Summer delight if you have the money.  We did one year:


You’ll either love this or hate it:

I promised people I wouldn’t post pics of them so the one below is my only personal pic here, taken from my flat.


Tomorrow evening – a tribute to Italy

8 comments for “Россия-Матушка

  1. January 7, 2010 at 20:27

    Well you have sold it to me 🙂

  2. WitteringsfromWitneyh
    January 7, 2010 at 20:29

    In answer to quick quiz re cameraman – look up (skirts)?

  3. Mike Spilligan
    January 7, 2010 at 21:24

    I lived in Moscow from 1992 to 1999 and can confirm all that you say – except that kvas is awful: “bread-beer”!
    The important thing about making friends is that the Russian sense of humour is very like the English one; jokes against oneself and the realisation that however much we overcome the bureaucrats there’s always another one in line to try to stop us doing something. In truth I think the Russians are now more free than we are.
    And the girls… Gorky Street; latterly Tverskaya – was like a continuous fashion parade; and they look after their figures – the fat “babushka” type being the exception. By the way, I’m told it’s difficult marching in high heels – and that photographer is trying to focus – I think that’s what they said.
    I’d have tried to find a photo of chess players sitting in the woods, challenging strangers at a make-shift table, small vodka bottle to hand.
    The MSM here still try to demonize Russians – but the huge majority are very pleasant, generous-natured people.
    I could write so much more, but I’d only bore you.

  4. January 7, 2010 at 21:41

    I always enjoy your Russian posts. It seems to me when you’re there you’re homesick for England,now that you’re here you miss Russia. [Just like me when it coms to Uk/Canada]. 🙂

  5. January 7, 2010 at 22:27

    Unfortunately, the world culture has caught up with the Russians. Prices have skyrocketed [until the recession] and children who grew up happy and a bit naive [the education system and a strong family life] now nightclub and get rampantly pregnant as in the west. It’s a sad situation. Schools report unruly pupils now as never before but that is compared to as it was, not with the west.

    There are now chubby kids and it is even taken to be a sign of a rich family so the stigma is disappearing. All nations are having their problems with the world culture but Russia is a sitting duck. Also for credit. The Russian mind and credit do not go happily hand in hand.

    One of the best analogies is that those two girls in the forest in the youtube are the old Russia and TaTu are the new world culture. Even in TaTu, some of the old values still shine through.

    Thanks for your comments and thanks, Uber.

  6. January 7, 2010 at 23:54

    Сейчас я изучаю русский язык.

  7. January 8, 2010 at 07:34

    Желаю Вам больших успехов, Дэоголвульф, но зачем?

  8. January 8, 2010 at 11:57

    Большое спасибо. Главным образом Я хочу читать по-русски.

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