Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Sky - A Great Dark Beauty

Lets see.

For starters, I would like to talk about the sky, mostly about how unbelievably pretty it is. Yeah yeah so maybe I am just a child of San Francisco but this grey, overcast-ness is just making my heart SOAR (thats a shout out to you mom ;) ). Yeah so people like my host family and various people at orientation incessantly warn me about how difficult life is going to become when the sun goes away for an extended period of time (btw this is not supposed to be a shout out to you, seabolt :( ) and how depressing the overcast weather and ran can be and I always assure them that is isn't going to be an issue. "Yeah yeah," they say, "you just don't understand it yet." In reality, I am sitting here writing on my blog and bragging about I am here:

and not in California anymore. Oh man, it is so pretty here! ok anyway, so the reason I am talking about the sky in the first place is because I overheard someone today talking about the sky and they compared the "expansive, dark, cold and grey" Russian sky to "the cold black heart" of the average Russian. Yeah it was a joke, and it was pretty funny but, at the same time, I dunno, it's not really that true. I know that is the stereotype but, ok lemme try to stay focused here:

Derek and I, yesterday, were in this big mall in the center of the city (it's called The Gallery) and we were just walking around, wasting sometime before heading out to meet with a friend. While we were going up an escalator and I was looking around I realized that if you took any average American and put them smack dab in the middle of the mall... they, most likely, would not even be able to tell that they weren't in America anymore. To my right was a Timberland store, to my left was an electronics/sony store, an authorized Apple reseller on the floor above us. All the signs in english. Of course all the people were speaking russian and not english but, the cleanliness and the decor and quality of the building, it was on par with any mall in the us I've ever been to. Furthermore, there are definitely people on the street who are willing to help you, people on the street who will pick up a metro token that an old lady drops and even, and this is pretty common, people that hold the really heavy metro doors open for the people behind them and even look back (you know, that courtesy glance that everyone does) to make sure that the next person catches the door before it knocks them over on the back swing.

Also, to pretend that there are not people in the US that would not respond to someone with an accent approaching them with, "stupid foreigner, get out of here!" is simply wrong, in my opinion. I remember being in the play The Foreigner in high school and playing the bigoted antagonist Owen Musser (I'm not sure on the spelling of the last name), who a character very much based in reality. It is probably accurate that there are simply more people in the US that would be more receptive to talking to strangers on the street and what not, but it definitely does exist in Russia.

When I was still relatively young in my Russian education, and only new only a couple real Russians, I thought that I was lucky and just happened to have met the 3 Russians that are interested in the world, that are not bigoted and close-minded, and that recognize the existence of other people and cultures. Obviously, that was a pretty stupid assumption and now it's really being driven home that such people are all over Russia, as they are all over the US.

My host mother was telling me today, as we were watching the news during dinner (which was incredibly amazing tasting, as always!!!!!!) about how she read a Russian translation of the Koran to find out "what these muslims are all about." Her opinions were extremely open minded, especially for being an entirely soviet woman who thinks that women who stop working to become housewives are "weak" and who yells at the teapot "what are you yelling about, I'm coming! *10 seconds go bye and she doesn't move* Shut up I said I'm coming!"

I have started listening to music on my commute to school, which makes it about 1000 times easier and faster feeling. I had another moment that was reminiscent of America last night when I was coming back from a bar. It was around midnight and I was waiting for a bus next to the metro station I get off at. I remember, for some reason, all of a sudden feeling: "damn, I feel so much safer here than I feel in my car at the Jack in the Box on telegraph in Oakland at midnight". I don't know why exactly. Maybe it was the fact that there were still old women out, maybe it was the woman with her young boy walking about of the super market across the street but whatever it was, I just felt completely safe and secure and unthreatened by my surroundings. 

My host mother was telling me about their dacha (summer house), its pretty far up north, in Karelia, so she said they dont go during cuz its too cold.... like -50 she said.... omg. she told me they were going to try and organize something to take me up there and show me how vegetables actually grow and how much work it is to pull them out of the ground or off a tree or from where ever those ghastly green things come from. The pictures she has shown me, both of the scenery and the 3lb. mushrooms they grow (yeah... THREE POUNDS! omg) look absolutely beautiful and I really hope we are able to make it out there.

Tomorrow we have a day off and several of us Americans are going to peterhof:
which has got to be one of the prettiest places in the world. I have been there before but I will still probably want to talk about it again and will definitely share the pictures. 


  1. Karelia...where have I heard Karelia before. Oh yeah, that's the place in Axis and Allies where the Russians stack all their guys so the Germans can't get through. Hahaha.

    1. and even that situation in the game wasn't just pulled out of thin air... they got it from someone... err some people.... stacked.... on top of each other.... in Karelia so the Germans couldn't push through