Russia - People

The people in Russia are very interesting and very diverse. It makes sense with all of the things that they have been through from Communism under the USSR to the fall of communism to the beginning of a democratic society that this people has a very unique attitude and one this is tough to capture in a blog post or any pictures. Words can't really describe human nature, but I have tried to describe other parts of Russia, so I will do the same here.

The first thing I think when I see Russian people on the street or in pictures or even when I first meet them is how mad they look and sound. Russians have this interesting quality that makes you think that they are an upset people. As you walk along the streets, enter stores, and ride the transportation system you will likely not see many, if any, smiles coming from the people around you. I am not sure what it is but Russian nature is not to smile in public.

Listening in these same situations to conversations and interactions is also pretty interesting. It always amazes me how a Russian person can sound so mad and upset and the other person doesn't get offended. Russians like to hold intense conversations and be very serious as they talk so much so that I often think a fight is going to bust out, but it never does. The people are very straightforward, and they don't try to sugarcoat their words.

For example, my wife has a really good friend who she has been friends with for some time. They like to do different things together but like any women or young ladies, they love to shop and they love clothes. One of the things that always gets me is how open and honest they are with each other about each other's clothes and looks. My wife says she really likes something and her friend tells her that it is ugly and not to put it down (she doesn't say "I don't really like it." but she says "That's ugly, don't even think about it."). When it comes to boyfriends they are the same way and anything else. They also sound like their fighting a lot, but they're not, they're just talking/discussing a topic. It is the Russian people's nature for some reason.

However, Russian people are different at heart. As we were leaving Russia and were in the airport I met another woman who was headed home after a three week vacation in Russia (her first time in Russia and she didn't know the language or alphabet at all). I asked her several questions, including what she thought of the Russian people. Her answer is one of the things I love most about Russia and the people that make it who they are. She said that Russians seem really hard and mean but the people are the most hospitable people she has ever met. They have so much less than we do in America, but they give so much more. She shared how the people she visited would not let her go to her hotel but insisted she stay in their 2 room apartment. They gave up their bed and slept in the kitchen on the floor. Jean, the women coming home to America, said that in America we don't give up our beds and bedrooms, but we have a guest room, or we let them sleep on the couch downstairs. My wife and I experienced the same thing while we were there and were given the best room and place in the apartment. Jean also shared that every meal was extremely large and very good, the people giving the best they had no matter what.

Our first night on the train as we were headed to Penza, we had neighbors in the train who were extremely hospitable. As soon as they learned that we were from America and that I was an American, we were immediately invited to share their food. They gave us sausages and bananas and offered vodka and beer. They wouldn't let us turn the food down no matter what (they let us turn down the alcohol fortunately). These people were not rich by any measure and they sure didn't know they would meet Americans in the train, but that didn't matter and they were willing to give us more than what they had themselves.

I find it quite interesting that a people who seem so mean and mad from first impressions are actually some of the most hospitable and kind people I have ever known. The Russian people have a lot of problems that face them as a society and people with a lot of deceit in the government and bad business practices, but the people are what truly make Russia a wonderful place to visit. Check out my book review on "A Train to Potevka" for more about the Russian people.