Jun 14, 2011

Американ бой (Final Photo collection, Maikop)

The city pool in winter:
 and the same pool before I left:

 View of the park in winter:

 And the same park today.  This shot is taken from the top of the blue thing on the right:





And just as the harsh Russian winter inevitably turns to spring, I have shed my hideous Russian leather coat and become an American.  This post, like the last, is just a photo collection.  I'm home again, where life is pleasant but not worth blogging about.  For example, recently I went to the T-Mobile store to buy a new charger, because it turns out my Russian phone won't work on their system.  I'm disappointed, because it had a ton of features I liked, including "Fake Call," where you hold the phone to your ear and pretend to talk in order to avoid an unpleasant situation:

Life at home is much like I remembered it, and much unlike Russians imagine it.  My car isn't registered so I have to take care of that; there's a family of red squirrels in the attic that we need to trap and remove.  God bless America.  

Or as this unknown Russian put it, USA FOR EVER NEW JERSEY WEST PATERSON. 

A little research shows that West Paterson, NJ is now called Woodland Park, NJ, and is apparently Shangri-La to at least one resident of the Republic of Adyghea.

And so, even in this remote corner of the Russian Federation, American culture looms large.  Here is Bruce Willis, vouching for his favorite Russian bank:

Russian advertising often comes off as a clumsy, unsubtle imitation of ours.  Unless there's some nuance I'm missing, the caption reads "I'm cool.  So is Trust Bank."  It might as well say, "I'm famous.  You're not.  Do as I say."


Today's Russia is sometimes called a 'transition' economy - not quite capitalist, but a long way from socialist.  This also manifests itself in advertising.  They know how to sell, but they don't know how to compete:

"After a long day of rustling cattle, I unwind with the bold flavor of any brand of cigarettes."


As you've probably noticed, the ever-fashionable English language is everywhere in Russia, but usually in some distorted form.  It's like a game of telephone, where American products travel to China and then to Russia before they reach me again.  This shirt says "YOU GIVE YOUR LOVE TO LOVE TO CAPTURE THE THE DELAY."  Two 'the's in a row.  I translated it into Russian, but she kept telling me I must be translating it wrong:

This was my grading book for my students, bought at the school stationary store.  It's part of an extensive 'metal' series, which celebrates seemingly random objects made from metal:

As I understand it, Russia imitates what it imagines the West to look like.  This isn't just in advertising - at first glance, much of Russia observes the same rules and standards that we do.  But like always, it comes out a bit funny.  For instance, all grocery products have packing and expiration dates on them, they just aren't observed and don't mean anything.  For instance, this yogurt expired the day it was packed:

Here's a tip for visitors: dates in Russia, like in Europe, go day/month/year, as opposed to the American month/day/year.  This is especially important to remember when buying food.  If a jar of spicy Uzbek peppers expired on 03/09/2007, an ignorant American might think it's been bad since March of that year, when really it only expired in September.  Boy was I relieved.


A few times throughout this semester, we've followed the life of the little green man in the walk signal.  I wanted to post his last two adventures, before the photographs lost all context.  Here he is tempting fate, crossing a Russian street in a thick fog:

And this one is perhaps the most interesting of all.  It's a relic from the winter of 1942, when Nazi forces briefly occupied Maikop.  Our green glowing hero is permanently stuck in an emphatic fascist goose step:

For obvious reasons, this walk signal touches a lot of nerves in the city.  Here is a rally of local Communists at Lenin Square on Victory Day, petitioning to have the green Nazi removed.  The big banner reads "DO NOT CROSS, FASCIST OCCUPIERS!"


And so, another adventure in Russia is wrapped up, and with it my blog.  I never made it to the beautiful national park outside the city, which remains my biggest regret from this trip. Otherwise, Russia was good to me, and it's only a matter of time until I return.  For my part, I feel satisfied with my language progress, and all signs indicate that I did a fine job teaching.  I'll leave you with these words of gratitude from one of my students:

Don't ask me about Russia when you see me; I have nothing further to say about it as of the end of this sentence.

До встречи,


H.C.G. said...

So how was Russia?

Iosif Markovich said...

It was exactly as depicted in this blog, nothing more or less.