Russia and its People


Despite the title of this post, I wouldn’t presume to pass judgement on this vast country or its 143.5 million people. We spent just a week there and stayed only in the two largest cities. All I can do is to share my experience of a very enjoyable week. In doing so, I have to make generalisations based on my very limited experience. But I’m aware that’s what I’m doing, so I hope that makes it “all right.”

Both cities are perfect for tourists and have plenty to see. They are also full of enormous parks – something I miss in my little country. We saw some of the famous sites.

Peterhof Palace

The next three paragraphs were originally published on Tim Taylor’s blog.

As a child, I heard a lot about Russia. My brother visited and then studied there. My aunt and uncle visited. I heard about stern officials, supermarkets only for foreigners while Russians queued for meagre supplies, Jews in a synagogue too scared to talk to foreigners.

Russia is very different now. The two cities we visited, Moscow and St Petersburg, look like thriving European cities. Moscow’s Jewish Museum is modern and prominent; interesting, too.

A couple of things I saw fit with my impressions from the many Russians I’ve met here in Israel. One is that they smoke a lot. The other is that sometimes they have a strange way of thinking; things that are obvious to them are not for anyone else. In what other capital city do you exit the metro and spend half an hour looking for the train to the second biggest city in the country? No, this wasn’t a language problem because OH knows how to read Russian. There simply wasn’t a sign.

Hermitage Museum

I have another observation about something – or rather some people – who I found lacking. In Israel, I’m used to seeing people of colour on the streets. There are Jews from Ethiopia. There are also Jews whose families are from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, etc. There are non-Jews from Africa who generally come for a limited time to make money. I’m also used to seeing people who are identifiable as Muslims.

I saw about one Muslim and two non-white people during my visit. I don’t think that shows there aren’t other populations in Russia, but only that they don’t live in the two largest cities.

One day, I would like to return to Russia and visit other places. Maybe I’ll even find out where my grandparents came from.

Books Rhymes

Olga and Sasha

Just a bit of fun. Or is it?

St Petersburg: Hermitage General Staff Building (photo by David Drori)

From her window seat,
Using arms and feet
And an energy burst,
She gets out first.
Olga and Sasha
Belong in Russia.

First she is, through
The passport queue.
Then she waits for her case
Despite winning the race.
Olga and Sasha
Belong in Russia.

He stands with a pout.
The two hurry out.
No time for a joke.
They both need a smoke.
Olga and Sasha
Belong in Russia.

In the evening okroshka
With beef and vatrushka
Then out to Tchaikovsky,
Chekov or Ostrovsky.
Olga and Sasha
Belong in Russia.

Books Holidays

Russia and Headaches

005P2I will write a post or two about my recent trip to Russia, as soon as I can find the time.

In the meantime, you can read my 100-word story on the theme of headache. It won first prize in Morgen Bailey’s competition.