Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Marry a Russian girl "

In year 2008, a book fair was held at New Delhi where there was a special stall for Russian books. There I met with a Russian craftsmen. We talked for sometime and I asked him about literature of Fyodor Dostyovasky and Leo Tolstoy.
Apart from there names, he didn't know much. He introduced me to his family, he gave me his phone no and address in Kazan.
At the time of departure he advised me to "visit Russia and marry a Russian girl?". Listening the word "marriage" I became suspicious and left from there.

But this incident keeps on rolling in my mind to this day. Can you tell or interpret what possibly might have been the intent of that person.

Asked by Sanju, India

Dear Sanju

Of cause I cant get into the mind of another man but somehow, judging from the your letter, I would not worry about the mean intentions of this craftsmen, who (I bet) is happy in his marriage ))))) I am sure he meant well proposing you to visit Russia and marry a Russian girl.

I am afraid it will be unfair to the great girls of other nations and will sound like pure marriage agency advertisement, if I list here all qualities of Russian wives ))))... The prove is that there are many of them happily married to Indian men.

I can only advise you ....listen to your heart when it comes to choosing your future wife ))

P.S. Maybe you should just go to visit Russia...and not thinking about meeting a girl but just to see a land of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. )) Think about it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Russians are Europeans ...or not?

Are Russians Europeans or not?

Asked by Om Pratap, New Delhi

Dear Om,

Despite the apparent simplicity of your questions ...the answer always causes major geopolitical debate inside and outside Russia....

I am sure there are plenty of dissertations written on the description of who- can-be-considered-real-Europeans.-Those-who-are-born-on-the-territory-or-those-who-are-born-from-the-local-parents-etc....
depending on the side taken your question, when it comes to Russia, can have both possible answers.

Russians as nationality - yes)....Russians as citizens of Russian Federation - please read below ))))))))


When it comes to pure mathematical approach and calculation based on math and geography the omniscient Wiki says: "Russia is by far the largest country in the world, covering more than a ninth of the Earth's land area. Russia is also the ninth most populous nation in the world with 142 million people. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 9 time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms". It could be only added that Europe here is considered as a continent (like Africa, Australia, etc) with a total territory of 10 392 855 km2.

However even if 79,3 % of the population of Russian Federation lives on the territory of the European part of Russia it would be a way too easy to think that this fact makes Russian population Europeans.

Even if the territories of restless East Slavs (ancestors of modern Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians) caused a lot of headache to late Roman Empire, it was far and away from major European events until 957 when the most influential local Russian Prince Vladimir sent his envoys to study the religions of various neighboring nations.

Suddenly, these far pagan territories promised new income and people to various geopolitical parties.

Thus, Russian Sovereign chose Christianity.

However, the somber churches of the Germans didn't correspond his taste. It was at Saint Sophia (Constantinople), where the colorful ritual of the Byzantine Church was conducted to impress them, so he found what he was looking for: "We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth". If Prince Vladimir was impressed by what saw his envoys, he was yet more impressed by political gains of the Byzantine alliance.


Well, sharing religion doesn't make people the same and it was until much later (17 century) when Peter the Great after his own "reality check" had to admit that sometimes progress has to be forced in Russia.

Among various changes in State structure (NEW CAPITAL - ST.PETERSBOURG - named by Peter the Great "WINDOW TO EUROPE") his reforms included changes in social and everyday life:


All of this was implemented on not a negotiable basis (as often it was done in Russia))))).

He wanted Russia to become part of Europe...and
he made her become such.

Having said all of that, it will be extremely unfair to a long and complicated Russian history to say that Russians are Europeans by historical determination.

If you have read my previous posts you must have already noticed that many of Russian traditions are similar to those of other nations and nationalities of not European origin (read Caucasus, Siberia, Far East) Besides, our last official census of 2002 has showed that 182 different nationalities are living on the territory of Russian Federation.
They live, mix, get married, share same habits and history.


If I may allow myself a little sentimental comment here.

In my humble opinion, the biggest mistake people make when dealing with Russians is just treating them like any other European nation, forgetting the complexity of the territory, size and history. That is why later on when one gets disappointed or his illusions get broken, he tends to generalize and make quick conclusions.

I am sure many problems could have been avoided if behind our European (or Asian) looks people could see mysterious echo of Asian, Middle Eastern, European behavioral traces mixed up with enormous distance and common historical "good and bad"...or simply what others call "Russian soul" (which can really ache, trust my word!)
So Sir Winston Churchill did get it at the end saying:

"Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" ))))

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fair trade in Russia

My daughter is doing a global challenge on Russia for her beaver scouts badge. We have searched all over the internet to no avail. Can you please tell me the countryside code for Russia also what fair trade products do Russia produce?
Asked by Gemma


Fair trade as social movement in Russia is almost non-existent and consists, on the one hand, of few separate active workers and small groups, and on the other is presented by some manufacturers (for example Clipper, Qi-Teas )
I had never seen any fair trade labels on any locally produced item bought in Russia.

Could it be explained by the fact that Russia is not considering itself as a third world producer! It definitely doesn't look like one. (Your daughter will confirm it after the visit ))))

Having said that, if you take a look at the basic list of products usually covered by fair trade initiative among coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate, rice, cocoa, honey, clap, wine, fresh fruit, spices....I can only think of fresh fruits, honey and spices which could be covered by the program.

P.S. Unfortunately, the country code of Russian Federation is impossible to find (if any). I'll add it if I find it.