The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On What Russians Do For Fun

or on other's predispositions and travel

The 'large' Neva river

First and foremost, I made a Wordle (Hat Tip: Chaviva) . . . let's see what you guys come up with for your own blogs . . .

Anyhow, click on the link for the photos and text . . .

When people often enter the Shul, if they're not being herded by the cruise tour-guide, they often approach me on their own with a look in their eyes most likely akin to one an explorer would have when approaching some newly discovered tribe in the uncharted jungles of the Amazon or Papua New Guinea.

A typical conversation goes something akin to this:


Pointing to himself (though in truth I should say herself -as due an unforeseen quirk of chivalry, women are often the first to enter shul, while the menfolk hold the door open)

"We -Americans. Amerikansky. Americans . . . Yes. We no speak Russian." -I almost expect someone to raise his hand one day and say 'We come in peace'


"Yes, I see. I'm from Los Angeles . . . Where are you from?"


"No. We are not from Los Angeles. Los Angeles in California. We - Florida. Florida. Flo-Ri-Da. Amerikansky." -It seems that people are so predisposed to assuming that everyone they meet is Russian, and thus most not speak English (well), they often do not hear what I say.


"No you see I am from Los Angeles."


"Well I'll be! I thought you spoke English rather well!"

Conversation ensues.

There is something rather interesting about this whole ordeal . . . for while most people remain rather thoroughly involved in their own predispositions, while traveling they are often more open to experience things they may otherwise have dismissed.
The average Jew traveling in Europe sees dozens and dozens of cathedrals and the like, often in places that he knows were formally centers of Jewish life. There is something missing . . . he wishes to learn about his own culture, after seeing so much of someone else's . . .

The other day, for example, three families entered the sweeping Moorish arches of the synagogue. One was affiliated with Chabad in D.C., while the other two were self described reform and secular Jews (I told them that labels were for supermarkets, not for Jews).

As I showed them around the synagogue, I asked one of husbands -we'll call him Ira (not that his name was anything like Ira -but I have yet to meet an Ira that isn't Jewish)- if he wanted to put on tefillin. He demurred.
Nu, to each his own.

As the tour progressed, asked another if he wanted to put on tefillin. Though this individual was nervous, as he had never done so before, he agreed to go ahead and have Petersburg Express Bar-Mitzvah (as I have since dubbed the experience of putting on tefillin for the first time here). When the third man, who as mention supported Chabad, got in on the deal, then Ira decided to put on tefillin as well . . . it was a truly moving experience.

On to the more mundane . . .

After Shabbos got out, around 12:30 we were invited to see the 'raising of the bridges' -an event that took place around 1 in the A.M. Seeing as we were up in any event, Shmuli and I went.

The question is often asked:

"What do Russians do for fun?"

To which most anyone can readily answer,

"Why they drink for fun!"

But what they do while drunk had always been somewhat of a mystery. That night at the bridge I was able to find out . . .

As we stood by our bridge waiting for it to rise, what must have been over a hundred drunk Russians began to gather around us -every Russian had a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in the other (I believe it is otherwise illegal to walk around in Petersburg)

Suddenly the bridges shook lightly -the crowd began to cheer- and then they, ever so slowly, opened. Beers in hand, everyone preceded to then walk off.

That was it. Underwhelming is an understatement.

But at least I found out what Russians do while drunk:

They stand by the water and watch the bridges rise.

The sights of the night:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


chaviva said...

Russia's the word!

Mottel said...

Yes . . . but that's because Wordle seemed to mainly take from the front page (first seven posts) of the blog.

me said...

Isn't it that lables are for t-shirts, not for Jews?
b"H Russian drunks of today are busy with open bridges instead of Pogroms, so I guess even if they are boring, at least it works to out benefit.

the sabra said...

Are any of these photoshopped??
Namely, the third to last one. You MUST teach me how to get that kinda night/light perfection.

Sefirah said...

americans bug me

Mottel said...

I use Picasa for various touch ups and the like, but the night shots are using the night setting on my camera while placed on a flat surface.

the sabra said...

I think I asked you this before (I apologize, if so)-what camera do you use. I think it's time for me to upgrade. (Also, disposable cameras are a bit childish, eh?)

Mottel said...

I use a Fuji Finepix f10 . . . Nothing amazing.
But a disposable . . . at least go digital!

the sabra said...

ach i was kidding nu