The fact is, I love Russia. And I think if you ask a lot of people Why they love Russia, they will give you things that coincide with my rants. People that "love" Russia, love a challenge. The frail can't cut it. So you have to have a bit of a hard exterior to survive, to find humour, and to enjoy.
And I want to try to list the things that I love about Russia (what little I've come to be acquainted with), that I don't just love because it makes it challenging to live there or get on with it's peoples.
1) The architecture. Need I say more? Being in St. Petersburg is like being *inside* of a wedding cake. Ok, that's not quite right, because inside a wedding cake is spongy and dark. Ok, like being an ant in a bakery.
2) I love the light extremes in the North. 2 weeks of darkness in the winter, 2 weeks of daylight in the summer. It's thought that this directly influences the Russian personality. Cold at first, but once in their home, they'd give you anything.
3) Stroganoff. 'Nuff said.
4) Subversive literature.
5) A history of excellent film
I gotta say I'm stuck here. But I came up with more than I thought I would.
People often ask me if I would go back to Russia, and I immediately say yes. And often they respond with an incredulous "Why?!" burdened with only their preconceived thoughts, not my own.
Remnants of the Cold War? Maybe. I think they're just weak, or maybe just need a little horizon broadening.
I recently had a Russian ask to read my blog. He found it thoroughly amusing. He reckons that if I am going to bother trying to live in the country and study the language, I must be...well crazy. But I must really like the place. Can't say the same for all the Russians, but I appreciate...his appreciation.