It has been a hell of a time! First of all, I wish I was making notes as I was travelling because I went through some crazy feelings and thoughts while was overseas. I went back to Russia where I was born and spent most of my life. I was especially excited this time as I took my boyfriend over who is a typical Australia block and has never really traveled apart from couple of drunk flights to Las Vegas and Bali [typical hey:P].
I mentioned that I wish I was making notes as I was travelling because the experienced I went through is difficult to re-produce some time after. The impression was fresher and stronger while I was “inhaling” Russia. Well, its been almost a week since I am back in Sydney and I feel like outlining some “light” information at this stage 🙂
Moscow was founded in 1147. It has a long history of constantly changing leaders, getting burnt down several times and being at war most of the time. Moscow was invaded by Mongols in 1156 which it was a “colony” of for 200 years. Moscow back then was Kremlin size and couple of tiny villages around it. It is amazing how vast the city is now. During the first half of the 17th century, the population of Moscow doubled from roughly 100,000 to 200,000.
Although we all know that Moscow is the capital of Russia, it ceased to be Russia’s capital when Peter the Great moved his government to the newly-built Saint Petersburg on the Baltic coast in 1712. interestingly, Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress, at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, in a land then called Ingermanland, that was inhabitated by Finnic tribe of Ingrians. On May 12 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans, and soon replaced the fortress. Peter the Great wanted to build his sea fortress which would be the strongest and the prettiest city in Europe. During World War I, the city was renamed Petrograd, meaning “Peter’s City”, to remove the German words Sankt and Burg.
Russian history is so rich I spent 11 years of school and 5 years of university to study at least its basics. It is not only a massive block of information but a never ending train of mystery. Russia is a goofy place and although I was born there and brought up by purely Russian family I have never felt entirely comfortable there.
Nowadays when I went there to visit the motherland after spending the last 6 years of my life in Australia I managed to make sense of many “weird” customs in Russia, many though remained a mystery. While my boyfriend and I were marching from one war museum to another we learnt that since Russia spent most of its existence at war it is sort of understandable why it carries on like a big baby and attacks everyone around from time to time. It also enjoys being a massive thread to everyone.
Power & status
These two components are prime “values” in Russia, in my opinion. I do not want to offend anyone therefore expressing my personal opinion only (!!!). Russia is a violent and lawless country which thrives on power and status.
Everyone in my family carries a gun or have one stored somewhere. My brother is a hunter (by passion, if you like) and my parents prefer to have one … in case, you know. My boyfriend found it fascinating that my entire family could spend hours on the local playground drinking beers measuring guns up. Yes, both actions are illegal but as I mentioned earlier, it is a fairly lawless country. Many people in Russia (especially Moscow) measure their success by the amount of rubles in the pocket and type of car in the garage. Many Russians (especially in Moscow) only acknowledge you as an equal male if you drive an expensive car, steal a lot of money and brag about corrupting a police officer [and other similar stories]. When I introduced my Australian “innocent” boyfriend to couple of my “rough” Russian friends, he heard again and again that travelling overseas (long term) is kinda waste of money and time. “You can buy a car instead”said my comrades.
Never too much booze
Russians drink a lot! When I say they drink a lot I don’t mean binge drinking till you vomit on yourself somewhere on Kings Cross in Sydney. I mean sitting down in front of your TV and “talk down” (as Russians would say which means “finish”) a bottle of vodka.
I have noticed that drinking in Russia is so big because it gives Russians the opportunity to be happy. In the country where the Sun comes out once a year (not literally but very close) and unemployment rate is high and everyone else drinks … it is a sin not to drink, as Russians would say. On other hand, when my boyfriend and I hit the night clubs in Moscow I think I was the only drunk one on the dance floor [giggle]. It is very expensive to drink in a night club! People take drugs from what I know. I personally have never been involved with drugs in my entire life so cannot say for sure. Many Russians drink out of habit as I see it. Otherwise, I am absolutely confused why to consume such a large amount of poison on daily basis.
At the same time Russians often get offended if you don’t drink with them AND abuse you if you appear too drunk. This observation has always puzzled me. I have noticed that this trend is still in place.
Control & fear
Russian government and Russian police are ridiculously corrupt. You can bribe your way out of literally anything as long as you have enough cash.
I have always had police phobia because I know how unfair, violent and easily bribed they are. Old Soviet saying states “My police looks after me” is as real as mermaids in the Moscow river [giggling].
I do not want to appear as a complete b***h so I will try my best to think of something pleasant and good about Russia. As I mentioned earlier the Russian history is fascinating! Russian scientists are the smartest in the world, in my opinion! However Russia has never looked after its intelligent capital and most of the bright minds migrated overseas and others drank themselves to death.
As my boyfriend mentioned once, Russia has all the potential and all the brilliant minds and endless capabilities, it just refuses to use them.
Russia is definitely getting better! It has only now opened its boarder for visitors and allowed its citizens to travel abroad. It has only been since 1991 as Russia is no longer under an iron curtain and not longer under a tyranny.
The iron curtain itself was pretty inevitable at the time. The Romanov’s (tsar) family was not looking after its starving people and so known bolshevics and revolutionists took over the leadership, freeing the starving working class.
Especially during WWII, communism was the driving force of everyone’s devotion to the country and probably the winning power. Giant masses of people worshiped communism & its leaders and were ready to die for the Motherland.
Interestingly, nowadays there is no display of Communism anywhere. It seems like the entire piece of history is under some sort of curtain. Apart from the dead body of Lenin on Red Sq, there is no other historical item of the era. My boyfriend was absolutely thrilled with the idea of learning about communism when we were packing to go to Russia and was fairly disappointed when found no museums or excursions to do with Communism. As if the time from 1917 till 1991 was a dirty little secret of the giant Russia.
In short, communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. This movement, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the “socialist world” (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the “Western world” (countries with capitalist economies).
I was born in 1985 which means I spent the first 6 years of my life living in Communism. I can barely remember it. My parents used to talk about it a lot.
Communism, as you might know, rejects ownership. Communistic Russia had 0% of unemployment. Paradise, isn’t it?! People were give everything! At the same time everything was in shortage and people were doing bigger jobs and smaller jobs being paid the same; however communism was seen as a perfect structure for any society. However have you ever gone to Woolies or K-mart and found only one bag of sugar or only three vacuum cleaners in the entire store? Well, it is hard to imagine but the generous Soviet Union could not supply enough of commodities for everyone. Everyone therefore had to wait till more food and other items arrived to the shop to only be distributed among the quickest ones in the line. The rest would go home hoping to have a better “hunt” tomorrow.
Clearly, such way of living did not last too long. If you are giving everything away, discourage competition and ownership you most likely to get disinterested society. Additionally, communism does not exclude corruption. Everyone were meant to be equal but no one was… Well, it looks like the freeing working class revolutionists starved its citizens as much as tsar used to.
Although I find this step in the history of Russia as necessarily as any other one I do often get a little angry that people pretty much lived in a massive cage. Russia is very young as a free democratic society and it has centuries to go before it actually embraces the democracy, in my opinion.
If you are interested in this fascinated part of the history please investigate into the Russian literature of that time. A lot of books were prohibited and only published after the curtain fell. I studied a fair bit of Russian history as well as literature getting my hands on long time ago forbidden pieces and I must admit, I cried with each book I read.
I would like to say it again, this post is purely MY opinion and it is not very positive because this is how my experience went down. I will definitely be back with more stories about Russia and some of them will definitely be more positive. I will try my best 🙂