Tag: Saint Petersburg

More about RUSSIA. #4 in series. Many photos.

Welcome to the 4th in the series about my trips to Russia.

If you did not read the prior essays, I urge you to Do so. Number one is a little longer than the others but you could at least check out the setup at the beginning and check out the photos If you don’t want to read all the trivia and humorous stories.

NONE OF THE PHOTOS OR TRIVIA FROM ONE ESSAY OF THIS SERIES WILL BE REPEATED IN THE LATER ESSAYS. ALL OF THE NEEDED BACKGROUND ON MY TRIPS AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION WILL ONLY BE IN THE FIRST ESSAY OF THE SERIES.

Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning if you have not.

https://www.docudharma.com/show…

Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Let’s start with a few photos.

For the women (& men) who saw the naked ass of the tall man with the sculpted body, the first photo is him and his horse from the front.

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Guys this second photo is an example of REALLY trusting your wife. Top photo is a museum in Tomsk Russia and second is inside the museum (real trust).

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Victory Day in Russia is a big holiday. The day Russia took Berlin. I was in Russia on Victoy Day in 2004. Statue and flowers at base as is true of every statue of military significance all over Russia.

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Some street muscians in St. Pete.

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TRIVA/STORIES

– I met a Chinese man in an apartment building I was staying in once when I was in Moscow. He had relocated to Russia ten years earlier. It was a nicer high-rise apartment building because it was primarily for foreigners for work or some other long term reason. Most had the rent paid by their corporation. Had receptionists, guards at side entrances and a neat and clean elevator that worked 24hrs. This Chinese man was living in this apartment building. We passed in the hall and nodded and smiled a couple of times. One day he specifically stopped me and asked if he could come to my apartment and speak with me. It was clear he had been giving thought for a while about making this request. I set a date to have him by my apartment. He had many questions about America. He shared much with me about his home country. Another place I knew little about before he was good enough to enlighten me. We spoke for three hours and he showed me the photo albums he bought to our meeting. It was a nice experience.

– I met an American man living in Moscow for fifteen years who was in the transportation industry as I had been. He loved Russia. We spoke a couple hours and he taught me much about Russia and Russians.

– Russians are NOT cold and distant people. On the surface they seem so. Most walk down the street and look cold and angry but they are just the opposite when you get past the gruff exterior and “walls” they have built through necessity. Every “real” exchange I had with a Russian quickly became embracing, caring and thoughtful.

– Everyone I ever met in Russia felt a great responsibility for me enjoying their country, culture and the whole experience. Many people apologized if there was anything in their country I did not like even though it had nothing to do with them.

– Most Russians are multilingual and more educated than Americans. Most know more about the rest of the world than Americans do. Many know US geography, US politics, American history, as well as our traditions and holidays. Many know more of these than many Americans.

– My father in law, is 60, he is a retired truck/taxi driver so we had a common connection with my background in the transportation industry. He can speak almost no English. The first time we met, he said through his daughter, that it pained him that we could not get to know each other better. He toasted to me, his daughters future and more things before downing each one of the dozen or so shots he took in a four hour period. A half dozen times during that evening he gestured me to the balcony to share a few minutes in silence while we enjoyed smoking a cigarette together.

– In the above explained situations, we developed a bond without even being able to speak each others language.

– I have concluded that the cold and stoic exterior of some Russians is a survival and coping mechanism to deal with the difficult, sometimes cruel, sometimes impersonal and often disappointing world and structure in which some live. The life some lead can be spiritually and emotionally murderous but they are survivors and have adapted ways to endure.

– I believe part of the rituals of alcohol use and it’s importance are the attempts for some to bond with others and get closer to other people. For some a celebration to drown their mutual pain. In some areas people who are heavy drinkers will say to another person, “if you respect me, you will drink with me”. It seems in reality, sharing a drink is the best way some know to let another person in, to let their guard down and share themselves. Toasts are much more common than in America. We reserve toasts for “special” occasions. They also toast for special occasions but toast before each drink in normal situations.

PHOTO BREAK

Night boat ride on one of many rivers in St. Pete. This river has a huge bridge and the river is a main access for boats bring in supplies to St.Pete. and every night the bridge is raised about midnite for many boats to pass through.

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The remainder of the photos in this essay are taken in Petergof, a city near St. Pete. Amazing history to this. I may have already said this but it was the home of Admiral Petr Perry a famous war hero. It was completly destroyed in war and then rebuild exactly the same. This photo is of the bumpiest, most ass breaking water slide you have ever seen.

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-Nobody wants to say this but it is absolutely true; The primary reason 99% of women in Russia look for a man in another country is because of their experiences with Russian men. Between all FSU nation, I would estimate there are at least 500,000 actively seeking a husband outside their country. Many men are the reason and there is no other reason. Not living conditions. Not money. Not anything but the fact that some have given up on Russian men being anything other than chauvinists, pigs, drunks, womanizers and don’t make their family their first priority. Of course, there is the 1% of the woman looking outside their nation, that are gold diggers, we have them here also.

– Russian men these women have encountered shirking responsibility and obligation are part of the reason these women are disenchanted with Russian men.

– Other primary reasons some Russian women have given up on the men there, include alcohol abuse, verbal abuse and infidelity.

– Every woman I got to know spoke of infidelity.

– Many spoke of an ex-husband who was MIA for two days while partying.

– Some of the men in Russia (FSU) with enough money to support a family very well have ties to illegal activities.

– Some of the reason Russian women resort to an international search for a man, is cultural. Very few Russian women over 30 do not have a child and even fewer have never been married. The belief that these are staples of life is ingrained and very strong, right, wrong or indifferent it is a fact, they want to be married.

– In spite of those things I said above, men bashing that I heard in Russia was limited ONLY to issues like; irresponsibility, alcohol abuse, infidelity, lack of financial assistance (I mean normal daily things not diamonds and furs) and attention to their needs.

– Some of the women and children may only have three “nice”, matching and tasteful outfits. They will be worn consecutively and often hand washed each day. The children are immaculate. The girls hair is kept looking perfect. Russian women and children are extremely cleanly. Some shower or “clean up” several times a day and never go to bed without “cleaning up”.

-You will see almost no female Russian under 50 years of age that is over weight. Hard to believe but true. This is due to better eating, more walking and largely a conscious effort to maintain beauty.

– You will not see much “white trash” in Russia. Other than street people, gypsies and beggars (many), I was amazed at the appearance of even the poorest of Russians.

– These habits/qualities/behaviors are so ingrained that there is a specific single word to refer to a woman who does less than “normal” to make herself look her best. The word is “mimra.” They have a difficult time even giving a definition of this word because we have nothing in English that has the same meaning. “Mimra” does not refer to any personality trait nor economic status nor beauty or ugliness. It is simply a woman who does little to improve her appearance. Even children use this word for the “abnormal” Russian woman to whom it applies. This should give you an idea how deeply they value appearances. Mimra is used for a woman who goes in public without trying to look her best.

PHOTO BREAK

First photo is two on one. The boat is made of all stone, amazing. It is in Moscow not far from Gorke park. Second is an ugly guy amongst beautiful flowers in Gorke park in May. Yes, Moscow in May is not still frozen.

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Typical Russian Orthodox priest in standard attire.

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St. Pete. Statue

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– In a few good restaurants I saw tasteful black and white photos of beautiful naked women (unable to see private parts). There are no women complaining about this or boycotting the restaurants. Imagine this in the US.

– Many women take notice of the beauty of another woman and/or her body.

– I don’t want to convey the wrong idea. In general Russian women can be very jealous. Some are more jealous than many women I have known. For some women Jealousy is actually seen as a sign of love. As long as they don’t think their spouse/partner will act when they take note of another beautiful woman, all should be fine.

– Russian women are great hostesses. Having someone to their home means a day of cooking, preparing, cleaning and ensuring their guest will be pleased. It would be rude to do anything else.

– Most Russian women believe they are responsible for all aspects of the home in addition to the cooking and being a gracious hostess.

– Russians realize many of the shortcomings of their country, in spite of this they love their country. As a whole, their nation may be more patriotic than America. As a percentage, more Russian men might be willing to die for their country than those of us in America who would be willing to.

– I heard less complaining about politics, social systems or most other issues than I hear in America. Believe me, they have MUCH more to complain about than we do. I understand that conversations with tourists do not generally include these type complaints. I have gotten to know many Russians well. Many I know have no qualms about discussing with me some things they were displeased with in their country.

– The “mail order bride” fallacy about Russian women is still believed by many in the western world. Whenever a Russian woman is on an internet chat room or instant messaging site or website or any other mode of meeting foreign men, she has 100’s of men communicating with her from all over the world. When a Russian woman decides to marry a foreign man, the nation to which they go is not relevant to most and is proportional to the number of men from each nation on the site. They do not leave for  

More about RUSSIA. #3. More photos of Russia on this one.

Welcome to the third in the series about my trips to Russia.

If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I urge you to read the priors in this series.

NONE OF THE PHOTOS OR TRIVIA FROM ONE ESSAY OF THIS SERIES WILL BE REPEATED IN THE LATER ESSAYS. ALL OF THE NEEDED BACKGROUND ON MY TRIPS AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION WILL ONLY BE IN THE FIRST ESSAY OF THE SERIES.

Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning. Numbe one is a little long but I have been told it is worth it. If nothing else you can read the beginning with the setup and checkout the photos. 2-4 are all shorter than number one.

https://www.docudharma.com/show…

Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Let’s start with some photos. My “quarters” in Saint Petersburg. One looking up at fiance on balcony of apartment I had in Saint Petersbug. Two from balcony. One inside apt. Amazing location. Right on main street and all lively 24/7. Beautiful hardwood floors. All new inside. Great place. I think it was $700 for two weeks. Imagine in a tourist city of 5 million in US for an apartment like this in this kind of location. As usual though, washer but no dryer. No thermostat for heat. No A/C. Nasty ally around the back of the building for entry. Dirt ally so when it rained it was all mud.

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Sorry, gotta tell a story here. One night I was on the balcony about three am and saw a drunken man crossing the street not more than 75 ft from my balcony. A normal crazy Russian driver came around the corner and hit him. He flew about 50ft in the air and landed in a heap in the middle of the road almost directly under my balcony. It looked like both arms and both legs were twisted around his torso so badly that they must be broken. I thought he might be dead. About the time the driver got out, the man setup, I couldn’t believe it. He quickly fell back over and sat back up and fell over and set back up. Then he tried to stand and it was from then on that it became comical. He stumbled, he mumbled, he fell, he got up, he walked (staggered) a few feet to fall again. He finally got to the curb and sat on the curb just looking like a drunk. The driver decided he was ok and left. The man laid down in the gutter. About the time I was going to wake up my girlfriend to call someone an ambulance arrived. The scene was nothing like I have ever seen for triage of a victim of such an event. They prodded him. Helped him get up. Nobody used a pen light on his eyes. Nobody looked at his skull for fractures. He didn’t want to get in the ambulance. They finally got him to go and they were off. Unbelievable. Only in Russia!

– The distribution/transportation of goods is terrible in Russia. This just happens to be the industry I spent 20 years in management. America is awesome at moving products around our country.

– Almost nobody wears a seatbelt in Russia. If a Russian wore a seatbelt when with friends they would probably be ridiculed by them.

– There is a Russian saying that I heard frequently. This is said jokingly. When someone states some facts or information a Russian will say “you know too much, it is time to kill you”. It is interesting that I heard this most often when I was talking about things I had learned about Russia or Russians. Maybe this comes from the infamous KGB.

– Teenagers can’t buy cigarettes but can get served alcohol almost anywhere.

– Many Russians lack hope of anything changing. In many ways they lack hope of almost any kind. They might have gotten a little with perestroika but now after 16 years after it and many of their lives are worse, so they have returned to hopelessness. They truly believe democracy and capitalism does not help the average person.

-Some of our ingrained beliefs can not be grasped. Live free or die. If something is not right/good/best then take action to correct it. I disagree with you but will defend your right to have your opinion. If you are not happy with a service or product you paid for then speak up. These and more are concepts that are contrary to keeping ones sanity in Russia. They call these “luxuries” Americanski princeeepaal. I don’t think that is  Russian, that is how they refered to it when I did something like speak up about poor service or something I paid for not being right.

– There are stray dogs everywhere in Russia. It is pitiful. No one pets them or even speaks to them. I do, my wife scolds me.

– Nobody spays or neuters. Most cant afford it and many think it is cruel.

– If you tell them you had your cat de-clawed you will have to explain to most what it is as they don’t even know about it. You will be considered a mean, mean person for this.

– There are few veterinarians as few have money for such luxuries.

– Almost nobody feeds pet’s actual pet food but rather table scraps.

– Many Russians have cats. They are indulged with fresh fish regularly

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PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Pertersbug.

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Guy in next one didn’t even flinch when I goosed him.

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Flying Lions

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– The mental health system is like “One flew over the cuckoos nest”.

– Most Russians don’t know anyone who has been to a therapist.

– Anti depressants and the like are almost unheard of.

– It seems like there is a drug store every hundred yards.

– Many things we must have a prescription for can be gotten over the counter. I mean many things. Some type of narcotic type meds., syringes, the morning after pill and much more. They don’t seem to have anything like our FDA.

– Many Russians put great stock in herbal remedies and many as preventative. These can vary from region to region. Usefulness of some are supported by western studies.

– It is dwindling but there are still Russians that believe their soup called borsch must be eaten everyday to maintain health. Great stock is put in the health benefits of garlic by some. Particularly in the SE where the caucus mountains. There are more “old Russia” cities is this area. It is horrendous when you get in a bus or train that is packed and you are face to face with someone who has an amazing garlic smell.

– Russians believe an even number of flowers as a gift is bad luck. They always give 11 instead of a dozen.

– The medical system in Russia is a socialist type setup. It costs very little by our standards for most things except voluntary procedures. Their waiting time at a hospital makes ours look short.

– Surprisingly to me the dental work in Russia is reasonably good but proportional in cost it is even higher than ours considering incomes.

– Before 1995 abortion was definitely the number one form of birth control in Russia. Most women under forty had an abortion. Most had several. The clinics are brutal, cruel, unfeeling and assembly lines with doctors performing five or six procedures at one time. There is dispute about the numbers of abortions now. Because of some forms not being reported as abortion. The is an increase in birth control but it is expensive by their standards. The USSR never kept records until 1988 and breaking into 15 nations makes it difficult to know if the number is really dropping or not.

– Aids is rampant in Russia.

PHOTO BREAK. All 4 are in Saint Petersburg

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Normal Lion

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Don’t ask me who any of the guys are in these statues, maybe Pico knows.

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– In general Russian men feel it is a woman’s problem to avoid pregnancy.

– Traditions and holidays are very important to Russians. Drinking seems to be the central focus of all holiday celebrtions.

– Disposable diapers, tampons and pads (they actually used rags) have only been common since the early 1990’s (paper again).

– Although their need is as great or greater in Russia as any country in the world, there are as many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in an American city of 50,000 as there are in ALL of Russia.

– Alcohol and drug treatment programs are virtually nonexistent. The opinion of many scholarly people is that alcohol is undoubtedly the single biggest problem of any kind in Russia. Alcoholism rates are unbelievable. The effects on every area of Russian life are clear to outsiders. Even the average Russian woman you meet will probably never have been out socially for any reason without drinking. In Russia this does not mean she has a problem. The problem is nothing amongst the women compared to the men. Alcohol is a big part of everything in Russian life.

-The average Russian mans life span is about thirteen years less than an American man. This is mostly because of early deaths from alcohol abuse.

– The average lifespan for Russian women is the same as American women.

– Primary school is 11 grades and in most cases followed by an institute (college) or technical training.

– Russian primary schools are far more strict than American schools. Many go Monday to Saturday. In some schools, when it is time for a holiday, the children are tasked with cleaning the school. Yes, I mean mopping, washing and general cleaning up.

– It is possible for a child to be made to stand in the doorway for forty five minutes because they arrived to school late.  

More about RUSSIA (#2)

Welcome to the second in the series about my trips to Russia with trivia about the people, culture and country and more photos.

If you did not read the prior essays, please do so before reading this essay. I STRONLY urge you to read the priors in this series.

NONE OF THE PHOTOS OR TRIVIA FROM ONE ESSAY OF THIS SERIES WILL BE REPEATED IN THE LATER ESSAYS. ALL OF THE NEEDED BACKGROUND ON MY TRIPS AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION WILL ONLY BE IN THE FIRST ESSAY OF THE SERIES.

Here is the link to number one, so you can start at the beginning.

https://www.docudharma.com/show…

Each of the diaries ends with a link to the next diary in the series.

Pico, don’t be too tough on me today. I know you academic types like perfection-J I am a very sensitive guy.

Don’t forget POLL. Rec’s appreciated. ENJOY.

Let’s start with a couple photos. These are inside one of the bazillion (sp?) churches in Russia. These two are from a church in my wife’s hometown of Tomsk, Siberia. I got scolded by an old woman and told not to take photos in the church. I did stop, she looked like she would and could give me a good whippin. There are many, many amazing churches all over Russia with such beutifully hand painted areas. Photos are cockeyed (too easy, no comments-:) because of my scanning ability, not painters fault. Many photos are cockeyed, just tilt your head.

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MOSCOW TRIVIA

– Moscow is the New York City of Russia except no skyscrapers. It has a larger population than New York City. 10 to 11 million in Moscow,  NYC 8 million. It’s an interesting experience every time I go there.

– Red Square, public transportation (particularly the metro), the amazing architecture and churches. There is a memorial to World War II that is nearly the size of central park. At night red lights illuminate the hundreds of fountains that are there. There are 20 foot tall stone statues of concentration camp prisoners standing in line naked with their possessions (boots, shoes clothes etc) lying on the ground near them. They 20 or so statues are gradually falling backwards from front to back. It  is very moving and truly captures the brutality of the concentration camps. Unfortunately, I went there at dusk to get the fountains lighted and photos of these were too dark. Really, it is worth finding on the internet.

– Russians have an immense pride for having won the final battle to end World War II. Yes, the Russians struck the final blow to win the war when they took Berlin. They made the final march into Berlin sustaining a loss of nearly 400,000 troops in the process. Interesting story of how Stalin pitted his two greatest Generals against each other going in from different sides knowing immense pride would make each man press forward harder to beat the other. Russia lost over 8,000,000 soldiers and about 20,000,000 civilian lives in World War II. Yes, those numbers are millions. Their casualties were about half of the total in the entire war by all involved.

– Gorke park is interesting. Nothing like the movie. It is a large amusement park like great America or any of the others.

– Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In the last ranking I read it was number three. The first American city on the list was New York City and it is around 23rd. It doesn’t seem to me to be any higher than New York or Chicago or Los Angeles for a traveler regarding lodging, food or transportation. I think it’s expensive reputation applies more to those who live there and in relation to their incomes.

– There are more billionaires in Moscow than any other city in the world. These are the top of the “new” Russians. ‘New Russians” are the wealthy who made their money by jumping on the capitalism band wagon that started after perestroika. Many of the wealthy are those of the Russian Mafia which is rampant and their cruelty makes our mafia look like gentlemen. Many of the others were government friends of the times.  

– A fair percentage of people in Moscow speak/understand some English.

– Even after all the time I have spent in Russia, I would not want to try to go it alone more than a few days even in this city with the highest percentage of Russians knowing some English.

– Like any large city you must be cautious of criminals, thieves, pickpockets, scammers and the like. Americans stick out like a sore thumb and thus are a good mark for these people.

– The streets in the city center of Moscow at about 5am have cleaning crews sweeping up the thousands of beer bottles that are literally everywhere.

– The first time I saw this I was surprised but I learned it was not uncommon, a guy in a suit on his way to work at 7am walking to the train and drinking a beer.

The view of Moscow in this first photo better be good because it is taken from the window of one of the better hotel rooms in Moscow and cost me $300/nt.

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WORLD WARII MEMORIAL

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Street musician in Moscow

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Cop Car – Imagine this on a high speed chase. Cop came up and told me I couldn’t photo car, oh well, already got one. Ha ha.

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TRIVIA/STORIES

– Russia does nothing to promote their country for tourism.

– Having such a small percentage who speak English makes it difficult for a tourist to navigate their country.

– Very few people ever think of taking a vacation to Russia. That is unfortunate. Even without going there to see a specific person, this is an experience as rich as any place you could go. Besides the culture, history, sights and more, it has a great deal of natural beauty. There are an immense amount of forests and wooded areas. Maine, where I live, is known for white birch and pine trees. There is as high a percentage of these trees and forests in Russia as here.

– The problem for the average American about going to Russia is, if you don’t speak Russian and don’t have a guide who does, there are only two cities you have even a chance to really navigate. Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Although I like these cities (especially St. Pete.), these are my least favorite places of all places I have been in Russia.

– Russia’s population is about 150 million. About one half of the US. It’s geographic size is more than double the USA and that is after breaking the USSR into 15 countries in 1991.

– About 25% of the population lives in a half dozen cities.

– A majority of the population lives in the eastern one third of the nation.

– Each of the other 15 FSU (Former Soviet Union, including Russia) countries have at least 25% of their population in just a few cities.

– The history of Russia is endless. There are tons of interesting characters and stories and events. Think of all the people and events in our countries history that every American is familiar with (at least I hope they are). If our nation is an infant, Russia is an old man. Everywhere you go there are buildings, statues and reminders of an often troubled, often courageous and always interesting past.

– There are stories about why several cities are abundant with beautiful women. It is said that years ago some royalty had the most beautiful women in all their domain shipped to specific cities and thus their beauty was passed on to future generations. One of those type is on the Black Sea in what is now the Ukraine and this beauty importation was done to keep the sailors there that they needed. There was a shortage of women, so, simple, bring the most beautiful women there to keep these horny sailors here.

– Many Americans think Russians liked Stalin. At one time their internal propaganda forced them to. Today in schools he is taught as what he really was. A Hitler in his own right. He spread death and destruction through fear and force where Hitler “sold and convinced” his people to carry out his mad plan. Stalin forced them to do his cruel tyranny with an iron fist. Almost all Russians now loath Stalin. On one trip, my friend would not even take a photo in front of one of the many statues of him.

– For most Russians their personal past and its impact on them is not seen as important but rather a waste of time and “beating the air”.

PHOTO BREAK

First one, my step son on left, then me, Oxana, my mother in-law

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Next one, out to dinner with friends. Oxana and I on the right. I am the ugly one. Man on left is a neurologist and the ONLY man Oxana has ever know who after divorced, paid child support and saw his children. He was very interested in my brain surgery. When he picked up his steak knife, I got a little afraid as he may have thought I needed more work. Guys, Tanya in the back left nearest the wall is single and a very nice person. Phone number 1-7-002-3564-2957-658-142-258-3645. She asked me more questions about America than almost anyone I met in Russia.

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I know, these are not as interesting as the architecture and other stuff.

– If someone figures out how they decide apartment numbers, I hope they will also tell me this. I was in a seventh floor apartment and the apartment number was 28. A third floor apartment that was number 65. One apartment address I sent mail to was 1/36 Electric Street. Before I visited, I assumed the one was the building number in the apartment complex and the 36 was third floor. When I did go there, there was no building number and the apartment was on the ninth floor I don’t know why it is 36. Only in Russia! Maybe Pico knows.

– Maybe this address situation is the reason the mail is so slow. Even the mailmen don’t know what is where or why.  

Want to know what Russia and Russians are REALLY like. I can tell you.

This is the first essay in a five part series. These will be posted each day at noon EST from today, Wed 12/12-Sun 12/17.

The first four essays are just for amusement, fun facts, breaking stereotypes, education and insight into how propaganda has falsely shaped our thinking about this country and these people.

One through four are not political or relevant to any major U.S. matter. The fifth essay on Sunday is a political essay about an important issue to the USA. It is titled “What is Putin up to? Dictator? Czar?”. It covers many Russian political events and serious changes in Russia’s Government that affect America.  

This first installment in my series of five essays will be the only one that requires this amount of dialogue to set up the series. I also have about 70 photos I will spread between the first four diaries.

My wife, Oxana, is Russian. We will be married two years in Jan 08. I have been to Russia numerous times in the last four years. I was fortunate enough to visit areas that are each very different from the other. All of us are aware of the size of Russia. Well, it is also as diverse as the USA.

Different areas have different customs, cultures, foods and habit’s, the same as the USA. Think about San Francisco, Miami, NYC, Bangor Maine, Chicago, Omaha, Denver. All quite varied. It is the same in Russia. I have been from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to Siberia to small “old Russia” cities that have not changed or become “westernized” yet.

Before marrying my wife, Oxana, I was engaged to another Russian woman who came here and after 60 days I realized it was not going to work out and she had to return to Russia. Oxana was engaged to a man from Malta and she broke it off six months before we met.

I communicated with at least a hundred women from all over the world on the internet. Most were from Russia and countries that were previously part of Russia prior to perestroika. Perestroika means reconstruction or reorganization in Russian. The seeds of perestroika began in the mid 80’s but it was not official until 1991 when the USSR was broken into 15 separate countries. In my communications with those hundred or so women, I got to know about 20 Russian women very well through the internet, instant message formats and on the phone. I only met my first Russian fiancé and Oxana in person.

After three years of work, six months ago, I finally finished a book about international dating (90 pages). It contains details about government red tape, forms, pitfalls, scams and many more items that you wouldn’t be interested in. I also warn readers to avoid the “pay for dating services” that only want to make money off you by selling addresses to you and getting you to go on their “tours” to Eastern Europe. It also includes a lot of trivia and anecdotal stories. In fact, enough of the latter to make four essays.

My dealings have been primarily with single women, the family of my first Russian fiancé, her friends, my in-laws and Oxana’s friends. I have only communicated and dealt with average middle class Russians. Most of the women I communicated with have a child and an ex husband that neither have seen since they got divorced. My friends are from smaller cities other than Moscow (11 million) or St. Petersburg (5 million) which combined are about 11% of the population of Russia.

Most of the women I have known live with their parents for financial reasons. Many were abused by ex-husbands and/or had ex-husbands with drinking problems and/or husbands that did not make family their top priority. This is a fairly high percentage of the population. There are more single mothers (percentage wise) in Russia than in the US. Additionally, virtually none get any assistance from their ex-husband and have no recourse.

My experiences are those of one man. There are many other opinions and experiences of Americans who have been to Russia. I encourage those who read this to comment about their experiences. I hope not confrontationally but rather to state their experiences with Russians and Russia to contribute to the education of those who read this.

Finally!!! I am done with this “setup”. Now to the fun stuff. The remainder of this first one is what 95% of number two through four will be. I sincerely hope you learn some things from this and most of all enjoy this and have a few laughs (some at my expense).

The first photo below is of an average office building in a smaller city in Russia (500,000). The second photo is of the UNBELIEVABLE bathroom in this office building.

Unfortunately, if you don’t work there, you have to pay a little money to a woman out in front of the “facilities” and she will also give you some AMAZING toilet paper (NOT). It is worth what you pay (NOT).

Oxana was a ticket agent for the largest airlines in Russia. This is her office building and “facilities”.

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These three photos are of the walkway up to an average Russian apartment building, the entrance doorway and the stairwell. I rented an apartment in this building for two weeks from a friend of my mother in-law and lived like an average Russian. Every other trip I have made there, I went first class, so this experience was very ineresting.

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TRIVIA/STORIES

– No pictures of President Vladimir Putin’s children are allowed to be published by anyone and nobody knows where they go to school.

– Putin flies in a helicopter for the very short trip from his home to the Kremlin for security reasons.

– The largest fresh water lake in the world is in Siberia. Yes, larger than any of the great lakes. Not in circumference but because of it’s depth, it holds more water than any other fresh water lake in the world. It has numerous species of fish that are nowhere else in the world.

– The coldest “inhabited” place on earth is in Siberia. It is the town of Oymakon in NE Siberia. There are colder places that people go to in Antarctica, but they are study/research locations and not places people live. About 2000 inhabit this town that has an average temperature of 30-40 below zero. It gets down to as low as 90 below.

– In all my time in Russia I never saw anyone with a to go cup. No Styrofoam cups anywhere.

– Domestic violence in Russia is common. Both verbal and physical. A call to the police is virtually useless. They will come there but do nothing. Domestic violence in Russia is probably 20X the USA.

– Russians don’t drink much coffee at all. I saw only one coffee house type restaurant in my travels in Russia. They drink tea. Coffee in every restaurant I have ever been to in Russia served instant coffee. Even the best restaurants.

– One of the difficulties for a Russian to learn English and us to learn Russian is sentence structure. In Russian, the order of words in a sentence does not matter. The words can be spoken in any order and understood. Like, Bush is a fucking moron and a complete idiot. In Russian could be, Idiot and complete moron is fucking Bush. They don’t have articles in Russian, so that is why I didn’t use a.

– There are no contractions in the Russian language and therefore most Russians don’t use them when speaking English. They will generally speak out both words for things like; don’t, wont, cant, isn’t and will have difficulty understanding contractions when you use them.

– There are no articles in the Russian language like; the, a, an and most Russians will omit these when speaking English. Thus, in the Russian version of the Bush sentence two trivia’s above, I did not use the a.

– Many of their words end in a specific vowel designating feminine or masculine or neutral. Most inanimate objects are either masculine or feminine with a smaller percentage as neutral. For this reason they will often confuse, he, she, it, them etc.

– In some Russian cities when riding a bus you pay when exiting. This is odd because there are doors at the back and payment is made in the front. You can be ten people deep standing in the middle aisle. The back door will not be opened until the collector in the front has your money. When it is impossible to get by the people in the aisle, your money is passed up through the chain. What is odd is most do not trust people. No Russian I knew ever saw anyone try to steal the money passed forward or anyone try to get off the bus without paying.

– It is not uncommon for a waitress, female barkeep or the like to have vulgar, obscene and/or propositioning comments made to her by a drunken Russian man. If she responds angrily she will probably be fired. Sometimes the owner or manager will even pass a message to one of them that a patron will pay X amount to sleep with her. Some will not only pass the message but pressure the woman to accept the “invitation”.

– My wife, Oxana, had a good job (for Russia) as a ticket agent for an agency that sold tickets for all airlines but primarily the two largest (Aeroflot & Siberia Air). Even though her hours for the month (50/wk-6 days/wk) would be the same her pay could vary by 25% depending on how good a month the agency had. She made about $3500 annually. No benefits. What do you think a ticket agent at a US airlines makes and with what benefits?

– When accepting a job sometimes they are not told how much they will be paid. Rather they are told that it is a month trial and they will be compensated commensurate with their performance and the sales of the establishment. It is less common now days but it is possible that after the month they will be told they are no longer needed and paid nothing!

– Because of this type behavior and other reasons many otherwise honest and moral Russians have systems for stealing from employers. Some “schemes” are elaborate and some are simple.

– Ekaterina II of Saint Petersburg who was a dignitary (maybe a queen) is well known as having been promiscuous. On boat tours in Saint Petersburg they point out the numerous palaces near the rivers that she gave to each of her lovers who were unending and always younger than she. Russians always speak of her with a slight grin and amusement in their tone. They seem to like the fact that she was like she was. Women have held prominent positions in Russia for 100’s of years.

– Even if not a history buff the stories of much of Russian history are very interesting.

– I never saw a car dealership as we know them. I saw some small store fronts with automobile manufacturer’s names but no inventory.

– All Russian cemeteries are far away from the cities and residences. When Oxana first got here, she didn’t like that my families restaurant is across the street from a cemetery. Now she doesn’t care, she works there.

– Russians have a great sense of humor. They must to keep their sanity in their insane environment. It is called Russian humor as it can be very different than ours.

– Russians have many “odd” (to Americans) superstitions. It is bad luck to whistle in public. Never say hello/goodbye across an entrance way.

– In the mid 1990’s Russia changed their money. When the new money came out, the old money was then useless. They announced this on a Friday and it was effective on the following Monday. “Only in Russia”!!

– Most Russians believe much about Russia and Russians is unique in the world and only a Russian can understand Russia or Russians. It may be true. The expression, “only in Russia” is said often by Russians.

– If someone figures out how they decide to address buildings on one side of a street versus the other, I hope they will advise me. Several times I was looking for a specific address and missed the mark by as much as a couple blocks. If I was walking down the odd numbered side of the street and I was at 1101 and looking for 1102 and crossed the street the number directly across from 1101 might be 1146 or 1062. I was a couple blocks away from what I wanted although on my side of the street I was only one number off from my destination. Only in Russia! At least they are even on one side and odd on the other and run in numeric order on each side.

– Plastic bags (packets they call them) are not usually given with a purchase. If you want one you must pay for it!!! The first time I went in a food shop the lockers were strange enough and when she tried to stuff everything in as few bags as possible I didn’t understand why. I didn’t realize until the third or fourth time that they charged for bags.

-You pay for a public restrooms in office buildings and malls and also outside port o potties. Many smell like an outhouse.

– Exposed plumbing pipes in all bathrooms are the norm. Even the best apartments you can rent from a travel agent and I had several that were awesome.

– America (including Alaska and Hawaii) is only 50% of the geographic size of Russia. Russia’s population is about one half of America. Russia has less than 10% of the miles of roadway we have in America.

– On my first trip I went out alone to buy my girlfriends daughter some school supplies. Pens and paper and these type items are treated like gold. Knowing I would be spoken to in Russian and being the brilliant mind I am, I decided to pretend I was deaf. When the clerk spoke to me I pointed to my ear and grunted. She reached under the counter and produced a pad of paper and a pen. Oh shit! It seemed like a good idea before carrying it out. I shook my head no and pointed to what I wanted.

– There are about three million people of Russian decent in America. That is more than the population of 20 of our 50 states. There are about 750,000 Russians in the Brighton Beach area of near New York/New Jersey thus it is called “little Russia”.

– In Tomsk (Oxana’s hometown), as I stated, I rented the apartment of a friend of my mother in law’s. I wanted to live in a “regular” Russians apartment and neighborhood instead of the numerous upscale apartments I had rented from agents. It was the best time I had of any trip I made. The photos here of the entrance, stairwell, door & bathroom are from that apartment.

– My first day in that apartment, I was on the balcony having coffee early one morning. I noticed a stray dog in the alley below our third floor apartment. I threw him some table scraps. He was sitting in the same spot every morning at 7am for my entire two week stay awaiting my handout which I gladly dropped down to him. The other two photos are me on that balcony and the dog below.

– I know a man of about 60 who is a retired Soviet army officer. He can not speak English well but wanted to talk and bond every minute we were together. He loved the cigarettes I brought from America. He was a very interesting man and someone I will never forget. In a gesture of friendship he went in his bedroom closet and brought out some items. He gave me numerous Soviet army items like a hat, a shirt and lapel pins as gifts. He explained the Russian life and the sour look by saying that Russian life is one small problem after another and another and another. While saying this he progressively slumped his shoulders and head further and further down like a man having twenty pound weights added with each problem. He, like most average Russians, lived a better life under communism. I once said that perestroika will result in a better situation and a better life for future generations but I suspected he didn’t really have much hope.

– Hope has been beaten out of many Russians or they have just given up so not to lose their sanity.

Photos below, are of the door (check locks-WOW) on the that average Russian apartment I rented for two weeks for $175. Also, the bathroom in the apartment, looking up at me on the balcony feeding my dog friend in the last photo.

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How about a photo of the amazing architecture of Saint Petersburg. Photos don’t do these remarkable statues and buildings justice, but it is all I have.

The second photo is a “special” for the women. It is a photo of a tall man with a sculpted body and muscles all over and the photo is taken from behind him and he is naked.

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– IF an apartment building has an elevator (lift) it may be shut off daily between midnight and six am. Some sound as loud as a small plane and you feel lucky when it gets you to your destination. They almost always have graffiti and sometimes urine. The buttons are sequenced different than ours and are usually illegible. Because of this, on one trip up alone I stopped at three wrong floors before finally getting to mine (9th floor). This was quit humorous to my girlfriend who had taken the stairs as she preferred. She arrived at the ninth floor before me awaiting in hysterics.

– Russians have a humorous habit when talking about someone being drunk or asking if you want to go get drunk. They all do it. They take their right hand middle finger and thump it against their neck on the right side. They all do it and all understand it, even children. There is a story to this. A famous navy admiral from World War II had a first mate that was his right hand man. The first mate was a drunk. On numerous occasions when the admiral most needed him he was in jail. The admiral went to each local bar and implored them not to serve him as well as to the police not to arrest him. When this failed he had a tattoo put on the first mates neck on the right side. The tattoo said “this is my first mate and he is of utmost importance to the war effort. Please do not serve him alcohol or detain him, Admiral Perry”.

– I never saw a grocery store like we know. They are not any where near as large. They are more like food shops and nearer the size of a convenience store.