A pensioner who works part-time in a photo-booth in Moscow metro, likes to help people, and doesn't like to have her photo taken while she's working.
How we met: I was walking out of a metro station, and saw a photo-booth. There was an old woman looking after it (she was reading a book), so I tried to have a chat with her...
Recommendations: "I don't know what to recommend, just have nice time, try to see the most important cultural sights in Russia".
Quotes: "I think foreigners are different from Russians in the way that they are more friendly, open towards people. Russian people, the ones who live in a big city, like Moscow, usually run around, everyone is to themselves. At the same time, I think some common trait in Russian people is that they will
always help to a person who is in need. For example, me myself, I may be busy sometimes, but if I see a person who is in need, I will certainly stop and help". I thanked Natalia Vladimirovna and asked if I could take her photo, she said: "Oh, no, no photos. I'm at work, it's unbelievable! I can't pose for photos as if I have nothing to do, just like this! Nonsense! Go away!"
a very generous and well-educated man, whose main job at the moment is giving lifts to people for money. In his spare time he likes horse-riding and traveling.
How we met: I was trying to get a lift to my home (usually in Moscow you just wave any car and it gives you a lift for money). Evgeny stopped, agreed on 70R ($2) for a 30-minute drive and we started talking about trams (Evgeny didn't like they obstruct road for cars).
Bio: For the last 10 years Evgeny has worked as a manager in a trading company. The company went bankrupt recently (because of some obscure illegal operations with imported goods detained at customs, that Evgeny didn't know anything about), so he was given a "temporary" vacation. He understands that he won't work in this company anymore, so he's making money by giving people a lift with his car (something many Russians do).
Interests: Likes horse-riding, does it every weekend with his son at their datcha (a small summer house outside of Moscow). "Usually horseriding is quite expensive, but just next to our Datcha there's a nice horse-riding club and we made friends with the owner, so they let us do it every weekend. I like it very much, and taught my son how to do it, he's quite advanced in it now".
He also traveled a lot around Russia and Europe. In Europe he liked Croatia especially because of its very beautiful views and the sea.
Recommendations: "The best thing to see in Russia is its nature. Russia has beautiful natural places: Karelia, Baikal Lake, Altay mountains, Kamchatka... I usually travel every year with my family (wife and son) and we go to such places. We love it".
Quotes: During our conversation I asked Evgeny what he thinks about racism in Russia (because the day before we at waytorussia.net received a
letter from a person who was concerned about this). Engeny said: "I don't
think there's racism in Russia. I remember in the 80s we were working in one big contacts company and there was a black person working with us. He was from Africa, I think, a real professional. I never saw any discrimination towards him, he was one of our team. We were all meeting together after work, having nice time. Oh, I remember he even married and now lives in Russia and has a daughter."
I asked him, why then now there are so many concerns about this issue. He said: "Well, there are some political parties in Russia that want to unite people with nationalist ideas, because they can't propose anything else. And many young people fall into this trap, that's how most of the skin-heads groups are formed. It's not that they are racists, but some people [in politics - wtr] are using these ideas to promote themselves and get supporters. And to get power. It's very sad that it's happening, but it's not something very common".
a young girl, student, who likes to walk around Moscow park with friends and doesn't like rude foreign men and photo camera.
How we met: Lena was walking near a supermarket and I stopped her to ask some questions. She was happy to answer, but when I tried to take her photo, she refused and walked away. So, the only thing I could do was to take a photo of her walking away and then I tried to make a close-up of her waiting at a bus stop (felt like a spy).
Who: Lena is a student in economics.
Interests: She likes to go outside of Moscow to the countryside with her friends and to have nice time there. Also, she likes parks, especially Kolomenskoye.
Recommendations: "I recommend people to go to Kolomenskoye park in Moscow, it's really nice there. We went there with my friends just this weekend and liked it a lot. There's very relaxing atmosphere, trees, grass, and some really nice architecture, palaces."
Quotes: When asked how foreigners are different from Russians, she said: "Foreign men are really rude. Just yesterday I was in a bar with my friends,
and there were some foreign men and they behaved in such a strange, vulgar manner! In general, I think Russians have much better manners than foreigners."
Past comments are below - leave yours...
Comment (16/07/03): " As a traveller who recently returned from Russia, I strongly disagree with Lena's comments. As a Canadian, we are generally respectful of other cultures, and friendly to foriegners who visit our country. Most Russians seemed to stare rudely at foriegners, as if they are trespassers that don't belong. Russian women seem to be friendlier and smile occaisionally. Russian men seem to look angry and pissed off, and constantly spit on the ground. Customer service in shops is non-existent, and cashiers are rude and impatient. These are broad generalizations, and of course do not reflect everyone in Russia. I really enjoyed my trip to Russia, and found that if you get to know Russians on an individual basis, they can be very friendly and outgoing. But as a society they should open up a little more, and invite the world to come see their beautiful country."
Comment (16/07/03): "I have been to russia only once in the mid 1980's and i clearly remember it beingvery racists. i think as a white male you do not feel the racisim because you are never the target of it. "
Comment (16/07/03): "I think what Lena says is not completely true. In general it just depends on the type of people you see and not on the fact whether they are foreigners or not. I think there are a lot of foreigners (like me) who come to Russia with respect for its citizens and customs. Also it could be just foreign customs that are just different from Russian ones. I for one was really surprised that it is rude to blow your nose (loudly) in Russia, while in Belgium it is considered very normal and not rude at all.
I think Lena has never met Russians drinking, because at some parties while I was in Irkutsk, I noticed that sometimes Russians got quite rude when drunk. Usually it ended in fights. But again it just depends on the situation, other customs doesn't have to mean that people are trying to be rude to you."
Comment (17/07/03): "well I have a russian boyfriend and he always think that the russians are the best people on the earth of course he loves his country but not like that I mean every country has it's own special things that you can't find it in others
anyway sorry for my prattle but my question is that why do russian boys love weapons,piano,tango,and learning Chinese and by the way why are they very official and cold-blooded???"
Answer: Uhhmm, I never heard about any of these things, like weapons, tango, and especially Chinese. Piano is something people from "good" families learn when they are children and then forget. Official and cold-blooded... I don't know, not all of them... maybe it's because they are shy?
Comment (17/07/03): "I began traveling to St.Pete in 1992.Since this time I have lived there for over 4 years, accumilative time. During this time I have seen so many changes in Russia, and with Russian people. In 1992 the Russian people saw me as a novelty I believe. As an American, and from the south, I was taught to look at people in the eyes when talking to them, and always be polite, and respectful of others.In 1992, the Russian people I met on the street would seldom look me in the eye's, and seldom exchange greetings. I would receive a lot of stares,when greeting someone in the metro. Sometimes they would just thump their index finger on their neck, or the index finger to their temple to indicate a crazy person. it has changed a lot since then.Doing volunteer work in hospital's,and in my social circles I come into contact with many good people, and a few not so good people. In this social circle of mine I have many Russian friends with many different vocations, and backgrounds. I have friends in the music business, doctors, pastors, politics, religion, travel industry, military, and so on. Most all are just working class people just like me, with the same wants and desires in this life. There is an old saying that I grew up with here in Texas, but it is true any where in the world, and that is to treat other people the way you would like to be treated yourself, and treat them as an equal. Not above them maybe because you have more money, or social status, but an equal. Except other's for the way they are, not how you would like them to be, not only in personal relationships, but also in business. I love my country, and my people, but I have met some not so intelligent Americans in Russia that are unable to grasp the finer points of travel, and business ethics while in a foreign country.
Russia is not the only country I have traveld to, but the only country I continue to return to as often as possible. I met my lovely wife, Yulia, in 1993, and she has been a wonderful teacher not only in matters of the heart, but also helping me understand the Russian culture. She is an excellent example of Russian womanhood, and the Russian people. It has been my experience as a world traveler that we humans, no matter what country you come from, are basiclly the same, and the only difference is some cultural bias. Which can be overcome easily with an open mind. I have yet been able to attain all the knowledge I search for, but I will continue to learn each time I travel outside the safe haven I call home."
Comment (1/8/03): " I think this site is very cool. Ok. I want to migrate in Russia when I grow up."
Comment (13/9/03): "sir : first my comment
I enjoyed reading your posting about common Russian people.
I guess I must be fair in saying I am common American man .
I am married to Russian woman from deep in your country. (country girl)
I have been married for 2 years now.
Every day I learn more how the common Russian people are the same as all people in world.
I truely think for any forginer as I to understand Russia, is to first know Russia from the begining.
Our culture is a meer 200 years old.
Yours goes back to 1200"
Comment (16/09/03): "I visited Russia in 2002 and while in Moscow I was on the street just taking in the sights and was reconized as a foreigner. The gentleman that reconized me welcomed me to his country and wished me well. I think that Moscow is just like many other large cities in the world. It has both good and bad. I would highly recommend taking this trip."
Comment (9/10/03): "to people like lena who have seen the bad part of the occidental culture: I'm a foreing living in USA, so I can see the freedom they have (including sexual freedom). the women here go to the bars looking for adventure and sex, so, if some american men is asking you for sex (depending the way), think in the cultural diference, for their women that is normal. "