Main photo: Dmitry Chistoprudov
I will never forget mixed feelings while getting on board of the Aeroflot plane in JFK–a burst of a melancholic nostalgia and infatuation with the future sights of Moscow. I have spent several years on the East Coast, while studying at university and working later on, and dreamt of coming back to my hometown. Interestingly, I discovered myself as a foreigner shortly after the arrival and no different from the Western expatriates flocking to Russia. It was an astonishing discovery–several years in America have transformed me more than decades in Russia and here is what surprised me:
Churches are everywhere and bizarre Putin’s t-shirts.
After living outside for several years–I have noticed too many new churches and tons of t-shirts with Putin’s faces. I have no idea where they came from and what is the need for having so many, as if the only thing people are now should do is to wear Putin’s t-shirts and go to churches. T-shirts are fun though, many friends of mine have asked me to buy several of them on my way back to New York
Food is truly organic.
I might be a scaremonger but I was always worried about food in America. Frankly speaking, even organic food in the US did not have a natural flavor compared to the Russian one. If you like organic food as much as I do–then Russia is the perfect place for you.
Russian women are gorgeous.
I swear, after living in America Russian women seem like the prettiest creatures to me–and they are. They are mostly slender, fit, and good-looking, and stare at you like hawks. American girls have lots to catch up.
Many people look sad and do not like to smile.
Too many people seem sad. Maybe it is because of a grey weather for most of the year or lower quality of life and constant daily stress–I do not know. I’m currently smiling much more than I used to before living in America. In effect, the locals just look at me with suspicion or irritation, and sometimes with “wtf stares”: “Do I look funny? Are you feeling great–well, I do not, so screw you!” Obviously, people in New York also smile as much as in Moscow, which means not much, however, in Russia you also perceive a sort of a public pressure that is not present in New York, as if there is some tension in the air.
Dirt on the roads and salty sediments on my shoes.
Whenever you go out in Russia during winter, spring or fall–its dirt everywhere on the roads and pavements, as well as some bizarre salty sediments. That should be because of some chemical reagents and poor weather conditions, therefore, my shoes are getting covered with bizarre looking white sediments and streets are with layers of dirt.
The Moscow Metro seems like a museum.
Seriously, I have noticed that the Moscow Metro looks like a museum compared to those in New York or Washington or elsewhere in America. It is much more crowded but I still like it more and it is definitely much classier.