Introduction or “There and Back Again”
Hello to you Reader and welcome. My guess is that you are here to read something about Russia, possibly in light of the latest events in Georgia, or maybe you are just curious about Siberia, Nuclear Weapons, Putin, vodka and bears :)? Well, I do hope that you will find something interesting here, even though it might not be what you expected…
Before I go any further, allow me to introduce myself. I am most definitelly Russian which (I hope) gives some credibility to my yarns. I am not yet thirty years old but in my time I have already done quite some traveling. While still a child I pretty much covered all Russia from the West most to the very East following my dad’s assignments (he was an army officer). I’ve been to China and Singapore, studied in New Zealand, lived and worked in Australia and USA so think I can say that i’ve seen the world or at least a reasonably large part of it.
My family immigrated to New Zealand in 1996, just two years before the major economic collapse hit Russia. In the meantime I’ve been studying, getting my first job and feeling homesick. In the end I just couldn’t stand winterless existence of the Southern hemisphere and in 2004 made a decision to come back to Russia…
You may think that it sounds like a rather lame excuse for a decision like this. You are right. Of course it wasn’t just the snow. There was a girl involved :). A girl that I’ve met on the Net while surfing through a russian website in one of those nostagic moods, trying to find my schoolmates. I will leave this story out. It is enough to say that this girl is now my wife and we are expecting our first child in another week or so. But anyway, back to the story.
I have to say, after reading Western news and watching TV I was quite scared of going back. I don’t know what I expected, but nothing good that’s for sure. I mean there is a tyrany there, and people are not free and there are gangs on the streets. When my plane was landing at Saint-Petersburg I was asking myself “Why am I doing it?!” And when the plane landed my doubts have grown tenfolds. The plane didn’t come to the gate, instead an old styled movable escalator has been pushed against it.
So we went down and just walked to the airport entrance. The entrance looked as if it withstood a small explosion in the past and could take another one in the future. Two sheets of deformed steel with a huge padlock dangling on the side… And this is an International airport in Saint-Petersburg the second biggest city in the country!!! To say that I started to have some doubts is not to say anything.
Three years later I am in love with the city. I am trully “back again” and ready to share my experience with the rest of the world. I have been meaning to start this blog ages ago, but realising how much effort it is to run it was putting it off. Being a lazy bum that I am, I would probably put it off for another year, but the latest events – war in Georgia, growing antagonism between Russia and USA, the whole political climate really got me thinking. If I don’t start now it may be too late.
You know, it feels to me, like the whole set of Cold War stereotypes is coming back. Just like that, as if the whole thing did not end in 1990. To many people, especially those living in the States Russia is a cold dark place, a “totallitarian” country full of unhappy people. People who are hungry, angry and hate the West. I played computer games. It is always the same, Russia + China are the bad guys, ALWAYS!
Attacking peacefull democracies under the orders of merciless and ruthless ruler. Russian soldiers are always harsh sounding brutes facing clean shaven square jawed english speaking freedom fighters. And it seems it is just getting worse… I am so very tired of this. I want to tell the truth. I am not saying it is The Truth, but it is something I see around me, something I believe in, something that I think makes sense.
So, I hope you are still with me. If this is indeed the case, enjoy it, leave a comment if you agreeing with what I say, argue if not. My hope is that I will be able to show you, that there is more to Russia than stereotypes, and that it is more than just a cold dodgy place with bears, vodka and nuclear weapons.