Consumerism and Existence - Interviews with Russian people in Moscow - November 2003

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 22 Dec 2009)
"The the standard drug against reality - consumerism — requires money — something Russians don't have, so they go towards vodka and a mask of indifference. I guess, it happens in other countries as well." - Dmitry from Moscow

The questions below were sent to us by Way to Russia readers. Our writers go out on the streets and ask exact same questions to ordinary Russians they meet. Their answers are below. Want to ask a question? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.


Nikolay, 21, doing his masters in management, works as a part-time accountant and has his own business

Nikolay

 
Question #1: "What do you think of America and its world-dominating politics. Or do you have enough problems in Russia itself, not to worry too much about that?"
Answer:
I think that the position of America is too much determined to the other countries. And that's why it irritates a lot of people. Personally, I position myself neutrally towards the US. But a lot of elements of exterior politics I don't accept. Of course, a lot of places amaze in this big country.

Question #2: "Do you think life in Russia is very weird?"
Answer: Yes, I think. A lot of weird things happen in our country.

Question #3:
"What do you think about Americans?"
Answer: It will depend on who this person is. I don't care about nationality, color of skin, or religion. What is important is the kind of person he is.

Question #4: "Are Russians okay with people from Finland and Sweden now? Long ago we had many wars..."

Answer: Normally.
 
Quesiton #5: "Are you OK with prices and taxes like in Russia?"
Answer: No.

Question #6: "How to find the path to a Russian heart? Is there anything that attracts Russians, that may interest them?"

Answer: I think that most of Russian people are focused on existence and on different levels on it. And some other Russians have different priorities. The situation is as diverse as in any other country, but the mass conciousness level in Russia may be lower.
I have an idea about western countries, that, if, for example, a person walks and sees a garbage can and he'll put his cigarette there, or a dog shits on the street and he'll put this shit in the dustbin. It won't happen in Russia. There's a higher level of mass conciousness abroad.

Question #7: "What do you do for fun?"
Answer: I play ethnic drums, I bike.

Question #8: "How to Russian people treat each other"
Answer: Again, everything is very differentiated.

Question #9: "What the russia people think about the russian cars, in comparation with japanese cars, or american cars"
Answer: Shit.

Question #10: "Why Russians can face life only through drinking vodka and hiding behind the mask of indifference?"
Answer: Firstly, not all Russians. Secondly, the mass level of conciousness is at a low level and mass instrument of perception is also low. Drinking is a protection for all these people.

Question #11: "What Russian books do you like?"
Answer: Krylov. With pleasure I read all the book of Krylov, very nice short tales. He separates our nation to sheeps and wolfs. Sheeps they walk around with lowered heads and wolfs they solve all the problems, they get everything. Wolfs very rarely walk pass sheeps and don''t pay attention to sheeps.

 

 

Dan, 21, doing his masters in management and has his own business

Dan

  
Question #1: "What do you think of America and itsworld-dominating politics. Or do you have enough problems in Russia itself, not to worry too much about that?"
Answer:
USA is a mighty empire now and doesn't care much about interests of other countries. The real power within US is business, I guess, all the politics is made by corporations. USA as the superpower will collapse soon, there is no real cultural paradigm which can support the economical and military conquest of the world by USA.

Question #2: "Do you think life in Russia is very weird?"
Answer: Russia is a standard community as hundreds of others. Any community has its own identity.

Question #3:
"How Russian newscasters report news to their viewers, including women?"
Answer: Don't know much about it. There are several newspapers, fm-stations, sites and tv-channels I like.

Question #4: "Are Russians okay with people from Finland and Sweden now? Long ago we had many wars..."

Answer: I didn't meet many Finnish people, but I travelled in Sweden and like the country and people. I liked Swedish women very much, in my opinion they are very attractive. Generally, I think Scandinavian countries are following their own way and providing the alternative philosophy to global capitalism. I hope they will keep their identity.
 
Quesiton #5: "What are prices and taxes like in Russia?"
Answer: Prices are ok, certain types of taxes should be reduced. Being a company owner, I think that small business is too much taxed.

Question #6: "How to find the path to a Russian heart? Is there anything that attracts Russians, that may interest them?"

Answer: I guess, we like open people who show respect to our country and culture.

Question #7: "What do you do for fun?"
Answer: Clubs, electronic music, theaters.

Question #8: "How to Russian people treat each other"
Answer: Most of us don't like to meet Russians abroad, don't know why. When we are at home, we like our friends and don't like our enemies.

Question #9: "What the russia people think about the russian cars, in comparation with japanese cars, or american cars"
Answer: Russian cars are not that good, but it is cheap and people can afford it.


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Question #10: "Why Russians can face life only through drinking vodka and hiding behind the mask of indifference?"
Answer: I don,t think so.

Question #11: "What Russian books do you like?"
Answer: Pushkin - for humor, Tolstoy - for romantics, Chekhov - for irony, Bunin - for being smart, Nabokov - for language, Mayakovsky for - style, Dovlatov - for concept, Pelevin- for mixes.

 

 

Dmitri, 22, doing his post-graduate studies, has his own business

Dmitri

  
Question #1: "What do you think of America and its world-dominating politics. Or do you have enough problems in Russia itself, not to worry too much about that?"
Answer:
I think America is both great and horrible, like Russia. Although I haven't been there, I guess it's a very diverse country where different cultures mix together, so I would like to avoid generalisations. I can say that I don't agree with America's politics (both world-dominating intentions and gradual shift towards the police state), but this means only that I don't agree with Bush, I still respect this country and its people.
As for the American people, I noticed that what I like in some Americans is their openess, sincerity and ability to achieve their goals, and what I don't like is exaggerated individualism, giving too much importance to money, and being stuck in a pre-determined way of thinking. However, everybody is different.
 
Question #2: "Do you think life in Russia is very weird?"
Answer: Yes, it's quite weird, but I guess this can be said about any other country. What I think what makes it weird is a higher degree of uncertainty, allowing much more space for movement. Sometimes it goes into chaotic, sometimes it gets to something really interesting. I think it depends how you treat this weirdness -- if you're used to complain about things, you'll get into chaos, if you adapt to it, you catch this weirdness as a wave and go with it :-)

Question #3:
"How Russian newscasters report news to their viewers, including women?"
Answer: I think all media in all countries is expressing the point of view of its owner, so they are all very biased. Russia is not an exception. That's why I don't care about TV channels being taken by the government, because they were never independent anyway, in my opinion. And I think in some way it can even be good to make mass media in Russia (TV especially) follow a certain line at least for a few years while the economy and social organisation is going through transitional period.

Question #4: "Are Russians okay with people from Finland and Sweden now? Long ago we had many wars..."
Answer: Yes, I think generally Russians like Finnish people because they think that Finnish are the only ones who can drink as much as them, and Sweden is respected because of the high standards of life.

Quesiton #5: "What are prices and taxes like in Russia?"
Answer: Prices can be OK, if people get adequate salaries. Small businesses have to pay too much taxes.

Question #6: "How to find the path to a Russian heart? Is there anything that attracts Russians, that may interest them?"

Answer: I think Russians are attracted by sincere, charismatic, strong, and intelligent people.

Question #7: "What do you do for fun?"
Answer: My work is great fun, I like to run, to do butoh dance, to do yoga, to listen to music, to travel, to play drums, to read books, to be with friends...

Question #8: "How do Russian people treat each other"
Answer: I think most of Russian people are quite proud to be Russians and generally they respect each other. However, there's a certain quality of Russian character that makes people slip into some kind of very bad mood or something, even because of minor problems, and it transfers to the people around.

Question #9: "What the russia people think about the russian cars, in comparation with japanese cars, or american cars"
Answer: Russian cars are cheap and are made in such a way that it's easy to repair something by yourself, so they have low operating costs (of course, if you don't count the time spent repairing it). They break often, but are quite cool. My favourite one is Niva - a Russian jeep - it's very small, very powerful, and costs not so much (about $5000 for a new one, I think).

Question #10: "Why Russians can face life only through drinking vodka and hiding behind the mask of indifference?"
Answer: This is not true for everybody, but many people are like that, because the standard drug against reality - consumerism - requires money, that Russians don't have, so they go towards vodka and a mask indifference. I guess, it happens in other countries as well.

Question #11: "What Russian books do you like?"
Answer: My favourite writer is Nabokov, I really like his language, the stories always have many dimensions. For example, you read about somebody sitting in a room, and then the table in this room is mentioned, and then a whole new story comes up related to this table.
Also, I like some things by Pelevin, because I think he really grasps the Russian reality as it is at the moment...

Question #12: "What do you think about Mexican people?"
Answer: I think they are very joyful, like to express themselves, to talk loud, to enjoy life, to eat spicy food, and that it's very hot in Mexico :-)

 

Some of the past comments are below – leave yours!

Comment (14/12/03): "I am happy to read that many of you don't judge others based on the country they are from. I am a Mexican/American girl looking to experience Russia. Do you have any important tips or suggestions when planning my trip?"
   
 

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