“Russia. The country that’s funny until it suddenly isn’t.” -John Oliver, Last Week Tonight.
As some of you may have heard, there’s an ongoing feud of sorts between America and Russia right now. You also may know that I’ve been in Russia basically during the time when things really hit the fan. Consequently, I’ve been asked, “Hey, how bad are things there?” quite a bit. In light of recent events (go read up on them), I just wanted to readdress a topic that hopefully puts things to bed.
For starters, in the 27+ months I’ve been in Moscow, I’ve been fortunate, knock on wood, not to have experienced any antagonism. The only thing that could be remotely construed as “antagonism” was when an older gentleman gave my friend and I dirty looks at a cafe when he overheard us speaking English. That’s it. Taking things a step further, I’ve had people who were curious to know more about America; in particular, this past election (no comment) was a fascinating topic for my students. But seriously, people here are hooked on American/Western things (ex. iPhones/Apple, Hollywood, music, etc.) so there’s a subconscious demand for those things. Heck, even plenty of policemen drive Fords, which is why I find it a bit surreal and hilarious to see that degree of American capitalism permeating sunny Russia during these last few “belligerent” years.
Two years ago, I mentioned that I had a conversation with a storekeeper at my neighborhood’s hole-in-the-wall store and we agreed that the saber rattling is between politicians, not the average Joe/Ivan. Of course the caveat is that I’m in the cosmopolitan capital of Russia and not in Siberia or the nether regions of the country. At any rate, the thought stands-the climate here, asides from the ever-fluctuating weather, remains decidedly less hostile than what I’m reading. In conclusion, let’s all just drink our vodka shots and pickles, and be friends. Spasibo.