7) Roads in Russia are the Real Wild West
Have you ever watched those crazy Russian driving videos? If you haven’t you should, they’re awesome! And I can tell you that they are fairly close to the truth (this video is a good example of what I mean).
The rate of accidents here in Russia is astounding. For my work, I’m shuttled to state schools four times a week and so I end up spending about two hours a week on the road. It’s a madhouse! People make dangerous plays on the road just to gain inches. Mopeds and motorcycles weave through traffic, and every other person is talking on a cell phone.
Hell, I was sitting on a bench in Moscow when a tram drove by. The driver didn’t glance at the road for the entire ten seconds that I watched, she was too busy using her phone.
Finally, one of the most memorable experiences here will be the time me, my girlfriend, and her parents were driving back from the dacha. It was like being on a roller-coaster without tracks. Her father was making potentially life-destroying weaves and maneuvers that would have netted thousands of dollars worth of fines in America.
It was one of the craziest experiences of my life!
8) Just Another Dog
Russians love dogs. I mean, Russians really love dogs. It can seem like everyone has one. Which perhaps accounts for the wild dog population. They run free and wild, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone. They are everywhere, these wild dogs are pervasive. They run alongside the road, they wait outside shops in case someone feeds them.
They bark, and fight, and growl, and chase things. At this point, it’s not even worth looking twice at them. It’s a way of life, the dogs are everywhere (like in the book Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk).
9) Being Unhealthy on the Train
On the Elektreechka (a short distance train), where you always have the option to ride like a suicide case (see part one), you also have other freedoms. People frequently drink on the train, sitting in their seats, always glancing up to look for cops on the prowl.
What goes great with drinking?
Go to the ends of the carriage, the place where the obscenely loud, compressed air doors violently slam shut, and light up. Nobody will look twice, nobody will say anything, it just is.
Your author has indulged before. He isn’t a smoker, but there’s nothing like a bit of tobacco now and again. When in Rome…
10) Ready, Set, Get Married!
I remember in a class I had to teach my kids the meaning of a first, middle, and last name. That first lesson, they were physically incapable of grasping the concept. It didn’t matter how many times I explained it, or how effectively I presented the (seemingly simple) topic.
They were simply unable to understand it, too far out of their realities (in Russia they use familias, which is a whole other topic. Check out this nifty little guide to learn more).
That’s what happened to me when I heard about Russian marriages. It turns out that Russians don’t wait long after proposing, often a few months at most. That means if the proposal is in spring, the marriage is in the summer.
I can’t speak for other countries, but in America, the wedding is usually a year or two after the proposal.
I’m not sure which way I like better, but they certainly are different.
11) Cutting the Grass
You know what I’ve yet to see in Russia? A lawnmower!
I’m sure they exist somewhere, for the big parks and what have you, but I haven’t seen one yet. How do they cut the grass you ask?
With industrial sized weed-wackers. Small armies of immigrants rove through the parks, carrying these oversized, noisy, orange tools. The first time I saw this, I mentioned it to my friend and he said it’s normal. In fact, he seemed to think that using a lawnmower would be odd.
Maybe they have this in other cities too, I can’t say. But where I grew up, there were about 1,000 homes in my village and you can bet your life savings every single home has their own lawnmower.
Check out Part One of the quirky Russian lifestyle..