On the Bus

I get on the bus and discover that the driver and the passengers are involved in a discussion of the Holocaust. Everybody is sharing stories of how they first learned about it and how it made them feel.

“We should not let it happen again!” one elderly lady exclaims.

After that, the discussion segues into a conversation of how crucial it is to ban guns. Every passenger agrees vehemently, including two young men.

Somebody proposes that BB guns be banned as well. The passengers agree loudly and passionately.

After a small pause, the discussion of the Holocaust resumes and passengers begin recommending movies and books.

By the way, I’m the only passenger who got off on campus. The rest of the people were going elsewhere.

A Positive Post About Russia

By huge popular demand (well, actually it was more like a request from one reader, but still), I am offering to your attention this list of positive things I have to say about Russia.

1. First and foremost, I have to thank the country of Russia for producing my husband N., a.k.a. the most wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, talented, and phenomenal man in the universe. Such an amazing man justifies a country’s entire existence.

2. Food. Did you know that the traditional Russian cuisine was always considered among the healthiest in the world? Of course, it was destroyed after 1917 and many of the traditional recipes were lost. However, today there are many talented young chefs in Russia who are recovering the culinary traditions. This is really great food, folks. The Russian cuisine uses  all kinds of seafood, very little beef, a lot of poultry. The traditional baked goods are to die for. Maybe I will share a couple of recipes with you in the future.

3. Film. I always say that movies are not art. However, the people who have come the closest to making movies that are works of art are, without any doubt, the Russians. I have not seen a film director anywhere in the world who would deserve to clean the Russian directors’ boots. Almodovar is a little boy compared to them. And the kind of actors you see in Russia are not to be find anywhere else. Of course, I can’t drag myself to a Hollywood movie more than once a year after being raised on this amazing film tradition.

4. Tea-time. Of course, many cultures drink tea. However, for Russians, tea-time is a very special ritual. In the evening, a family gathers round a table, drinks tea, and talks. The entire thing lasts for hours. We don’t have anything like this in Ukraine, and I always envied the Russians their tea-time.

5. Intelligentsia. This is a very special social class that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. You don’t get membership to it through possessing a certain amount of money, a certain kind of education, a certain profession. This social class is indifferent to riches, social distinctions, or any formalities. The only way to be a member is to possess a certain kind of sensibilities, a heightened sense of tact, a special inflection to one’s voice, a certain code of behavior. As vague as this sounds, I know within 20 seconds of meeting a person whether they are part of this social class, and this is not something one can fake. It makes a lot more sense to me to distinguish among people on the basis of their sensibilities than their income bracket.

I can’t think of anything else right now, but this is a good start.