These Strange People

Podcast Show with Marie Staroverova
and Native Speakers Club
#2 Города России глазами иностранца и правда ли, что в Москве сумасшедший темп жизни?

Добрый день! Я, Мари Староверова, приветствую вас на шоу "These strange people - Эти странные люди", которое мы делаем совместно с проектом Native Speakers Club.

Native Speakers Club - это уникальное пространство для погружения в иностранные языки в самом центре Москвы.

Слушайте образовательно-развлекательные подкасты с носителями иностранных языков о том, в чем мы разные, а в чем мы похожи. Сегодня мы снова беседуем с Jesse, и тема нашего разговора «Города России глазами иностранца-путешественника и правда ли, что в Москве сумасшедший темп жизни?»

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— When was the first time you came to Moscow?
I arrived in Moscow in January 1996. That was the really, really cold experience I told you about in the last podcast. I didn't speak a word of Russian and the alphabet looked like Chinese to me. The fact that there were Latin letter mixed with Greek letters made it even more confusing. I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. This was a brand new experience for me. This was also the first time I had flown across the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. I was in a totally new part of the world! Like being on a different planet. This gave me a very strange and wonderful feeling of real adventure.

The reason I came to Russia was to participate in a cultural exchange and humanitarian initiative in Siberia along with other volunteers. So after buying my rabbit fur hat - to Siberia my friends and I went. This is where I got my first real experience of Russia. I started learning Russian and within a month I could read and write in Russian and I was learning lots of useful phrases like: "No, no, I'm not a spy." --- "Hey, Boris, have you got any fresh sausages?" --- "How many Rubles for a plastic bag of beer?" --- "No thank you, five shots of vodka is enough for me."

— How would you describe this city compared to your home town?
We have a term in North America: the "Wild West", well, Russia seemed like the "Wild East" to me. There didn't seem to be much stability in the general social structure, or many rules that were taken seriously. The Mafia seemed to be the ruling force. No one seemed to be fixing the holes in the roads. It was generally pretty chaotic. But I was used to this kind of chaos because of the years I had lived in South America. Only, in South America people had been living in general chaos for centuries; for Russia the sense of disorder was relatively new.

In my hometown of Vancouver things are very ordered -- too ordered, I would say. And so, It seems that I am quite compatible with Russia: The Latin blood in my veins (my mother is from Cuba) seems to appreciate a bit of instability and uncertainty, and my Canadian blood (my father is Canadian) is thick enough to endure the famous Russian winters.
— In what cities in Russia have you lived?
In Siberia I lived in Novosibersk and Akadem Gorodok, then I moved to the Ural Mountain Regions, to Perm where my wife and I started our family, then to Ufa and then Chelyabinsk, where we almost got hit by a meteorite. I have also traveled as far east as Baikal lake; as far north as Labitnangi, as far south as Sevastopal and as far west as St. Pete. Russia is BIG, and beautiful.
— When people from all over Russia come to Moscow, many of them say that pace of life here is too quick. It seems that people are always in a hurry. There is a lot of traffic, a lot of car jams, a lot of people in metro. How do you see Moscow? What is it like to live in Moscow?

Moscow really is the "Big Dumpling" of Russia. It's a great town! So much to see and do (when you have any free time, that is). I love the metro! It's one of the best in the world. It's a work of art, literally. I get the impression, as I'm traveling every morning to work, that I am a blood cell traveling through the veins of a giant organism. And I guess that's what Moscow is, in a way. A giant organism that really is the heart of the largest country on earth. I love the fact that the city is quite culturally diverse now and that there is a general atmosphere of tolerance and open-mindedness among the peaceful citizens.

Yes, the traffic is abysmal, and so is the parking, but I just don't drive into the center and I'm fine. Over the 20 years I have been in Russia I have seen Moscow change from a dilapidated post-Soviet city into a beautiful world capital. I'm impressed, and I'm glad to be a part of this amazing organism, even if I am just a blood cell flowing through the metro.

I'm not sure why I have made so many allusions to blood in this podcast. I guess my high school biology lessons are resurfacing today. Stay warm and healthy. The holidays are just around the corner! And Ded Moroz has gifts for all the good Russian boys and girls.

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