Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rural Russia

If you are looking for authentic cuisine, regional arts and crafts and traditional Russian hospitality, you will never find it in St. Petersburg or Moscow. Only in small villages like Makachova will you be welcomed into a peasant’s house by the babushkas to enjoy tea straight from a samovar along with traditional Russian pancakes, pastries and piroshky and be given to eat until you can have no more. In short, a visitor to the heartland becomes a member of the family when he is seated at the dining table
            Despite the challenges and the lack of resources, the Russian heartland continues to produce talent. When we visited the babushkas in Makachova, we met a little girl who attends the village school. Her name was Olesei I believe and she was no older than 6 years of age. She had just begun her first year of English classes. Alina was showing her cards with simple English phrases on them. Olesei not only pronounced the phrases in almost perfect English, but she was able to learn and to recite them quickly. When I asked her to count up to ten in English, she was able to do so with confidence. It is people like Olesei in my opinion that will determine the fate of the heartland.
            And lastly, another important moment for me was when we together with the Russians recited poetry in front of the village school administration as we celebrated the 8th of March or international women’s day. Before that, Jake and I had stayed behind with the 11th grade Russian teacher and her class. I remember she asked me whether I thought Russian was hard to learn, to which I replied: русский язык сложный но красивый or Russian is a complex language but a beautiful one. After our poetry recital, the teacher replied that although English was a complicated tongue, it too was nevertheless deep and rich in meaning like Russian. It was amazing that even though perhaps we could hardly understand the words, the mere rhythm and rhyme of the poems were enough to touch the strings of our hearts and unite us at deeper level. 

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