This site is our response to everyone who has ever asked us what Russia is like, and for anyone who might have never wondered, but should have. It’s an attempt to put into words Russia as we see it; our go at explaining that big old riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, that in fact, never went away. It’s about understanding the views, opinions and psyche of a nation that hits our headlines daily, without many of us ever really knowing why. And ultimately, it’s about providing a picture of Russia, as seen first-hand by two people, who think that although the journey they’re on to try and understand this country might never end, the process itself is worth sharing.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Not Quite So Eastern

Photo: "Palace Square, St Petersburg", Andrew Moore
None of us have been on the blog recently, as we’ve all been very busy. To update you: Caroline successfully completed her year in Moscow and, despite a couple of near scrapes involving loose man hole covers and dodgy roads, has also survived a summer interning in Uzbekistan. She is now studying in Paris, but will continue blogging on all things Russian as her Masters course will be focused on Russia and Eastern Europe. Helen has finished her dissertation on Russian/Belarusian relations and is now job hunting, so hopefully will have lots of time for writing lovely blog posts. And I am now living in Warsaw, attempting to learn EU law and economics, whilst feeling horribly homesick for St Petersburg. Nevertheless, as my Masters thesis will be looking at Russia-EU cooperation, I’ll still be blogging all thing Russia. So, whilst we may not be in Mother Russia anymore, we’ll try our best to keep on writing, giving our thoughts and observations on Russia, as seen from our various locations across Europe.

At the moment I’m up to my ears in introductory courses so no time to write a real post, but I just found out that this is the first year that Russia will be celebrating Programmers’ Day. Yes, that’s right – 13th of September is officially the day for celebrating the work of all Russia’s dedicated computer programmers. Given that pretty much every third Russian man I know is a programmer, I imagine there will be a fair few celebrations going on tonight!

This Russian habit of commemorating almost every profession is something wonderfully Russian. There's public prosecutors' day, a service workers’ day, a geologists’ day, an astronauts’ day, a miners’ day, a chemical industry workers’ day, a power engineering specialists’ day… I could continue! I don’t want to be cynical or perpetuate drunken Russian stereotypes, but I came across a Russia joke that perhaps explains the popularity of all these days:

A Russian grandfather is asked how often he drinks vodka. He replies, "Not very often - only when it is a holiday or after a sauna. For example, what holiday is it today?" No one can recall any holiday today. The grandfather ponders, "Hmm, sounds like a good day to go to a sauna."

Anyway, Happy Programmer’s Day to all of you out there!

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