I fell on my ass on the ice today. As I was trying to get back up on my feet, this old man shoved me from behind and told me to watch where I was going.
Now look, I love Russians. But some of them past a certain age are really crotchety.
You go into a bus and you eat an elbow to the ribs from some granny shoving and jostling to get a seat.
You go into a store, and some unhappy spinster gives you the worst customer service you’ve ever had in your life.
These are some of the realities of life in Russia. But you know what? After awhile, you don’t mind it so much. I’m grinning as I write this. Its really not so bad. You get used to the arguing and the jostling and the extra mile you need to go to get basic shit done.
Life starts to lose its meaning when it gets too easy. The occasional power outage makes you get off your ass and shamble out to the box with the power meter. You throw on some slippers, tie the bathrobe around you and watch your breath come out in soft white puffs as you fumble around with the switch before restoring power and shuffling back in. This time, you don’t run the microwave and the electronic water heater at the same time.
You do each thing individually. Annoying isn’t it? Inefficient? You lose X seconds every day waiting- which experts tell us adds up to Y hours every year…Of your life…just wasted!
But I don’t mind it anymore. Life isn’t about efficiency, or convenience, only an Autist or a modern westerner thinks like that.
When I go down into the metro, I see uniform-clad grannies in booths monitoring the escalators. They sit there, bored. The others shamble around the platform, doing whatever it is that they do.
What an inefficiency! Get Jeffrey Sachs on the scene to sort this problem out!
But I don’t mind it, in fact it makes me smile. I find more and more satisfaction in life with every inefficiency I stumble upon. See, these grannies would be tucked away into retirement homes or on pensions if they weren’t there. This way, the government has the most effective defense system on the planet at work for them- gossipy grannies. Nothing unusual will slip by them.
And of course, there would be some that would decry government waste and try to shove these grannies into some retirement home, where they would rot away- out of sight and out of mind.
Instead, they shuffle along on the streets here in Russia. They take up all the seats on the train and the buses. They cut you off in line and they always give you bad service.
But what should they be doing?
Some of them are confused and bewildered. I wandered into a hidden courtyard one day- there are many in St. Petersburg. It used to be the park in front of a palace. There was a granny there. I asked her about the place and we started chatting. The city had changed a lot according to her. Shops everywhere, lights and a new lifestyle.
People were changing, she told me. She had a grandson that she tried to teach from time to time. “But he only cares about videogames.” She sighed exasperatedly. I cringed internally. Kids can be such little shits. Apparently she tried to take him to all the famous sites and instill in him a love for his culture and his people. The kid didn’t want any of it. He preferred what I deduced to be Minecraft.
The only advice I could offer her was to try and get him to play Real Time Strategy games so that he would take an interest in history. I know Age of Empires certainly helped me with that once upon a time.
Old people are in many ways the perfect distillation of a city of a certain time period. Unchanged in their ways past ~40, they can be bearers of tradition for the next 40 years of their lives. In many ways, these old-timers are what makes Russia so special. They are Soviet relics, and most of their views are refreshing conservative. They are very well-educated for the most part and a reservoir of forgotten knowledge. Some are also profoundly demoralized, and have been for about 30 years. Talking to them can be frustrating because of the old Soviet mentality they have. You will agree with them on 90% of everything, but still not quite see eye-to-eye.
The generation that grew up in the 90’s is a bit of a lost generation, even though they have come to embody much of what the new Russian identity has become. They grew up on Rock, tough times and a desire to escape West. These guys fit into two camps- those that still yearn to get out, and those that have doubled-down and developed a fierce pride for Russia- despite all its shortcomings. They are crazy partiers, and amazing personalities. They are immortalized in films like War (Balabanov’s movie about Chechia) and the Brother films (also Balabanov.) A fascinating bunch. Their women are the complete dolled-up smokeshows we’ve come to associate with Russian women. Hard and sexy, cold as ice, but passionate. Working women who spend 2 hours every day in front of the mirror becoming hot.
Many of the youth are becoming infected with the incessant HollyJew programming and the liberal teachings of their professors. They are super fashionable. Hipster fashion dominates of course. The tough leather jackets are gone with this generation. They want to be seen as soft, cultured and European. I spend most of my time with these types, unfortunatley. They are the “know-nothings” and “see-nothings.” They only care about some art or some hobby. Thats the “it” thing. These are the “beautiful ones” that take artsy photos with filters and perfectly done hair, looking at the the camera with sultry lips and a pouting expression- and I’m talking about the boys here. The girls don’t take as much pride in their appearance, preferring the more bohemian look that is spreading like cancer throughout the entirety of the White world.
I came to Russia expecting the 90’s generation, but I found myself in a comfortable bo-bo world of artsy cafes. Encounters in the street from other generations serve as a nice elbow in the side that there are other layers to Russia, different faces from the fashionable ones I see in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
All in all, my generation fills me with unease. I love them of course, because I see so much of myself in them. But I wonder if they will survive the hard times that have always tempered Russia. Life has been relatively good in Russia for about a decade now. What happens when things get tough again? I fear that the new generation has forgotten how to shove and jostle their way into a seat on the metro.