Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

The last time I posted, it was still March. The calendar said it was April, but the weather said it was March. This week, the weather has said it is May, but - you guessed it - still April.

Moscow, for all of its drawbacks, is a heck of a place in May and June. When I walked passed here on Tuesday, there were no flowers. On Friday, there are many flowers!

Hopefully, with the two holiday weekends coming up, back-to-back, I'll have some quality posting for y'all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Supermarket Checkout Lines

Me: "I don't need a plastic bag, I have my own."

Checkout woman: "Oh?! I guess that's 'ecologically clean.'"

Me: "Yup."

Her: ". . . and you're not going to harm the environment."

Me: "Yup."

Her: "Well . . . oooookaaaaaay."

Monday, April 09, 2012

Still Life with Vladimir Vladimirovich

Because of logistical things, I'm home a little early from the archive. Still getting stuff done, with the help of a late afternoon cup of java.
I call it "Still Life with Vladimir Vladimirovich"
And the once and future president.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Cafeteria Trays

I don't think I've written about it before, but if you've talked to me in person about Russia, you may have heard my views on feminism in Russia. They can be distilled thus: Russian women (here I''m speaking of the older generation, I think women of my generation are in many ways of a different mind) tend to be great feminists in deed, and terrible ones in word.

Women here perform all sorts of tasks, from manual labor to highly-skilled (if not paid) careers as doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc. There are, although in the highest echelons a limited number, women who serve in all manner of capacities in government.

On the other hand, opinion and woman-on-the-street surveys suggested that, despite all that, few thought that any woman was fit to serve as president.

This extends to family life, where women shoulder the overwhelming majority of the burden in the home, but often get little credit.

All of this was brought to mind by a brief incident in the cafeteria of one of the archives a day or two ago. I went to lunch along with two colleagues, the three of us representing three different cultural backgrounds. When we had finished eating, we each gathered our dishes and returned our trays to the designated area. Two of us were a little quicker, and stood waiting for a few seconds for Lucy, the third, to bring her tray over.

For which we were duly scolded by the women behind the counter: "You men! What are you doing letting her carry her tray! Hmmmpf!"

I was in shock, and could not think of a proper way to respond.

I immediately thought of the disconnect between the woman, who spent her entire work day lifting large stacks of the trays, washing dishes, etc. but at the same time considered it inadvisable for another woman to lift her own tray.

Lucy assured us that she was quite capable of carrying her own tray, but nonetheless, I have continued to think about it.

I never batted an eye, for example, the other day when I helped a woman carry a large baby carriage up a set of stairs in the metro, but clearly the boundaries in Russian culture for what tasks are considered to necessitate help are rather different than our own respective home countries.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Vladimir, Revisited

If you remember, or look back in the archive, I spent the year after finishing undergrad in the city of Vladimir, working as an English teacher. I've been back again a couple of times since then. This weekend, I went back for two days to visit old friends and see how the place has changed.

This one hasn't changed much in the last, oh, seven centuries, so there's not much to see here.
P.S. It's the Golden Gate, leftovers from the medieval city wall.

 Comfortingly, Cafe Pizza is still there. I didn't go in to try the pizza again, but in my memory it was pretty good.

 I posted about this memorial a few years back, but here it is again. It's to Prince Vladimir and the priest (I've forgotten his name) who came and baptized the region's residents. No word on how they felt about the whole idea.

That's the Assumption Cathedral in the backround.

 And, just in case you thought nothing had changed at all, a new arrival:

In all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. I really enjoyed visiting with everyone at the American Home, where I was able to catch up with the Russian staff and to meet this year's addition of the team. I also got to go visit Nina Petrovna, who is doing quite well considering her more than eighty years. And finally, I cannot neglect to thank Larisa for being such a generous host. Thanks!