20 May 2008

Survival of the Fittest?

Lately I've been thinking about the ways I've changed in response to Russia, Russians and Russian, and wondering what's going to happen to the habits and beliefs I've acquired when I move back home. Only time will tell, of course, but in order to avoid thinking too seriously about it and making myself sad, I put together a silly little list of ways in which Russia has influenced me and failed to influence me. In no particular order:

Adapted: Eat salo (salted pork-back fat... like bacon, but just the fat) and beet-based dishes with pleasure.
Didn't adapt: Still refuse to touch caviar and jellied meat.

Adapted: Drink all soft drinks at room temperature.
Didn't adapt: Still require a drink with my meal instead of after.

Adapted: Wore a hat every time I went outside from November 1 to mid-March.
Didn't adapt: Still started wearing flip-flops at the first sign of spring.

Adapted: Think nothing of wearing the same outfit two days in a row.
Didn't adapt: Still can't bring myself to wear gold lamé, see-through shirts, or plaids and florals together.

Adapted: Put on makeup anytime I leave the apartment, even if I'm just popping into the grocery store.
Didn't adapt: Don't own any lipstick in shade #048 Bubble Gum Pink.

Adapted: Don't sit at the corner of tables, because it's bad luck.
Didn't adapt: Still sit on cold surfaces, because I know it's not going to make me sick or infertile.

Adapted: Consider just strolling around downtown not only a legitimate form of hanging out, but the platonic ideal.
Didn't adapt: Still have no desire to go nightclubbing. Ever.

Adapted: Automatically ask "Who's last in line?" and say, "Ok, I'm behind you" to whoever replies when I encounter a clump of people who look like they might be waiting for something I would like to be waiting for.
Didn't adapt: Still only rarely work up the nerve to yell at people who cut in front of me. (Although Amara can attest to my one moment of glory in Murmansk, when I said, "Excuse me, young man, you don't have the right to cut in front of us!" Unfortunately, it turned out that he technically did have the right to cut in front of us, but I won't go into that.)

Adapted: Developed an appreciation for Kino and DDT.
Didn't adapt: Still hate Alla Pugacheva.

Adapted: Never (ok, rarely) smile to myself or do anything other than stare stonily ahead as I walk down the street.
Didn't adapt: Still say "thank you" to cashiers in stores when they're not expecting it.

Adapted: No longer offer to pay if I go to a café with a guy, even if it's clearly not a date.
Didn't adapt: Still feel bad about it every time.

Adapted: Let guys open doors for me; automatically walk through open doors ahead of whatever guy I might be with.
Didn't adapt: Still hold doors open for other people (which is weird because I'm a girl).

Adapted: Allow (albeit grudgingly) male students to take care of all classroom affairs involving the moving of furniture or the use of electronic equipment.
Didn’t adapt: Still cringe when people refer to women as "the weaker sex."

Adapted: Automatically suspect anyone with a lot of money of having obtained it dishonestly. (This one really weirds me out.)
Didn't adapt: Don't automatically suspect everyone from the Caucasus to behave dishonestly.

Adapted: Sympathize with nostalgia for the Soviet era, especially among the older generations.
Didn't adapt: Still believe in democracy.

Obviously, I'm kind of dealing in stereotypes here (although I would like to note that in class today, two of my six students were wearing see-through shirts). Don't take any of it too seriously. In other news, yay for Russian sports! Zenith, the Petersburg team, won some important soccer thing last week (not EuroCup, but something like that), and the day before yesterday the Russian hockey team won the world ice hockey championship!


Anna-Martha said...

Hahaha! That's hilarious. The see-through shirts, the makeup, salo.

You definitely couldn't get through winter in a ukrainian influenced place without salo! We (me and the other guy at the farm Im working on) are raising some pigs for meat ... hmm

As for Alla Pugacheva, there really must be Something of her's that is good ... if only the soundtrack from ironia sudbi.


Celine said...

Women the weaker sex? You and me know better, right? ;-)
When is the big return to home?

Leslie said...

Yeah... it's recently gotten warm here and the see-through shirts are out in full force.

(For readers who have never been to Russia - I would like to explain that these shirts aren't just accidentally see-through, a little thin or something. They're see-through ON PURPOSE. Mesh blouses, openwork crochet, mosquito netting - worn over just a bra, on women of all ages and body types. Hot.)

I still don't really understand people who don't like salo! If you make some from your pigs, please tell me. :)

As for Alla, you're right, the Ironiya Sud'by soundtrack is great! They showed Ironiya Sud'by on tv about a month ago in honor of Ippolit's 80th birthday, and it was amazing (I hadn't seen the whole thing since third-year Russian). A little weird to be watching it in April, though. I still want to find a CD of the soundtrack, but so far I haven't been successful.

Celine: the big return is sometime around the beginning of August. Delaying the inevitable. ;) Actually, it's that late because I'm going to Baikal for the second half of July. So excited!

Nana said...

I'm dying to know... did filters mysteriously "lose" my colossal WWII email, or am I just more boring than I thought?

I love this post and will totally rip it off for Korea. I can't figure out why people from other countries don't drink with their meals, and I still believe that a free refill is my God-given right.

My #1 adaptation? I body-check people in crowds who won't get out of my way. Today, I hip-checked a nine-year-old. Only the strong survive!