Here are some “F” words for the expat’s guide to Russia:
Nikolai Gogol said it best: “The problem with Russia is fools and roads,” This sounds a lot better in Russian “Duraki ee Dorogee.” (Дураки и дороги). Playing the fool works well in Russia, because you can operate under the radar screen. Good examples of this include arch-conservative/nutcase head of the LDPR Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who just keeps on ticking, no matter how many insulting things he says about Russia’s near neighbors, and Grigory Rasputin, the Holy Fool, though of course with him, things ended rather badly.
Russia often tries to come up with its own version of something that other countries already have, which by rights, have no place in Russia. For example: Medvedev is building a Silicon Valley, the Scary Crowd who run Moscow are attempting to build a Financial Center. Fandorin is Russia’s attempt to have a Top of the Line Fictitious Detective like Hercule Poirot. He’s the detective hero of best-selling novelist Boris Akunin’s series. Fandorin: I’ve known Poirot a long time, and you are no Poirot.
Do not underestimate the importance of flowers in Russia. Flowers are always always always a good idea. The larger the better. Half of the GDP of the Netherlands comes from International Women’s Day in Russia. They come swathed in ugly colored plastic wrap, strangled by chicken wire. Hell to de-construct. The problem is that you get deluged with them on your birthday or International Women’s Day/23rd of February and then you don’t see them for the rest of the year.
One of Russia’s national pastimes. Particularly since they (somehow, for reasons which still baffle the rest of the civilized world) managed to swing hosting the world cup in 2018 in three or four cities, which no one had ever, heard of (admit it – you could sooner find Fanghorn Forest or King’s Landing on a map than you could Saransk.)
Not a word that is possible to translate into Russian, though anyone who wants to give it a go is welcome to hit the comment button below and weigh in. I always find this interesting; since frustrating is exactly what Russia is most of the time. For example, when you finally get your act together to go and register your visa, and you battle through the snow or the pukh or whatever and get to the post office and discover that the warped individuals who run the Federal Migration Service have changed the rules again. Or, when you are trying to sleep off the previous night’s excesses and your landlady arrives. At 8 am. That’s frustrating.
Opposite of male, and therefore incapable of a.) Playing football, b.) Making more money than the male, c.) Taking out the garbage, and d.) Running the country. Pity.
What mandatory military service qualifies every male Russian to do.
A synonym for “strange” or “no longer welcome at this particular time in our nation’s history,” or just plain “wrong.” Is the etymological root of the word “German” which doesn’t come as a surprise given recent history? If you are reading this blog, chances are, you are a foreigner, despite the fact, as one visitor to Russia once told me, “I’m not foreign…I’m American.” Think again.
Still considered a luxury although it is available year round. Source of “vitaminiy” together with intense sunlight. Which is good, since I have yet to be able to find where they sell the actual supplements.
The highlight of last summer. Mixed with the peat bogs fumes, they gave us an exact sense of what fire and brimstone will be like when we get to hell. Tough cookie Medvedev told the Cabinet Ministers that if things this summer were as bad as last summer, he’d send them out to fight the fires. Problem is, he tweeted it. And, as every devotee of Vladimir Putin knows, Real Men Don’t Tweet.
Hey There Readers!
Can you think of some “F” words to describe Russia or help shed light on Life In Russia? Mindful, that is, that this is sort of a Family Type blog, so you have to refrain from outright obscenities. That should keep you busy!
Coming up next…. the “B” words! Stay tuned!