It has improved in that there are no longer lines in stores to buy stuff,
but the cost of everything is so exorbitant that they can't afford to go
to supermarkets, but still end up going to Kiosks and Rinocks.
But now, everyone is faced with the knowledge that communism was just a
hoax under the Russian government, another way to make money, and her
people were sheltered from many of the advances of the free world.
With knowledge comes power, and now that many Russians have such power,
they realize just how powerless they are compared to the west.
The clothes situation has and hasn't improved. I went to GUM, and most of
the clothes available there were clothes from the eighties from America
and other countries. Fashion is a concept that is learned, not acquired.
And the people that can afford high fashions are so grossly rich, they
don't know what to do with their money.
Everything here, to me, is reasonable. But I make more then the average
$200 salary of a Russian. When I put this in perspective, then I realized
just how little people are making here. McDonald's is paying slave wages,
and charging Western prices. My question is, where is the money going? It
makes me angry. I haven't eaten there since I figured this out. I
understand the mafia is raking it in, since this is a time of lawlessness,
like the time of the 20s for us. Those that have the money, have the money
and those that don't suffer.
My friend, Jan, is living in the provinces of Russia. Little cities such
as Ivanova and Yaroslavl (anything compared to Moscow is little).
She was ill with the flu this past winter, bad. When she started to come
around, she went out to buy some juice and overheard a conversation
between two ladies about how a beauty queen had died at the age of 16. She
had died of the flu, and she wasn't the only young person to do so. About
7 people in that province alone die at an early age of the flu. Was it
poor health care or just poor nutrition? The Russians have no concept of
germs, or nutrition, or how many things work.
The church is a joke. Now that they have funding again, they are doing
exactly what they did before the revolution, which is re-building all the
churches that were torn down or renovating the ones that still exist. This
is necessary, but there are people starving out in the provinces. If the
work of a church is to be charity, then why are they doing construction
instead of feeding the people?
Russia has to get her priorities straight, and that I am afraid is going
to take longer then a century to get all worked out.
Women are still making lower wages then men, and think nothing of it. I
have heard the sentiment that if it weren't for Russian women, this
country would have fallen apart long ago, and now I am beginning to
Women that work for Western companies are advanced the old-fashioned way,
they screw their way to a better salary, without condoms. This is country
is an AIDS epidemic waiting to happen. They go to work looking like common
street-walkers, by American standards, with their faces painted with a
putty knife and skirts so short the whole world is their gynecologist.
The housing was just given away, by the government, and since there was no
sense of property, things have not been taken care of. Most of the city of
Moscow looks like a giant slum, due to the harsh conditions the exterior
of buildings have to go through with the drastic changes in temprature.
Hot water is centrally piped to every apartment in almost every city. This
is a particularly strange manner in dealing with the hot water problem
since every summer, the pipes need to be replaced. There are individual
hot water heaters available to the Russian public, but the people that can
afford such a luxury are few and far between. Life without hot water is
interesting... to take a bath, if one desires, one must boil water on the
stove and mix it with the cold tap water.
Nobody drinks water from the tap without first boiling it. No only does it
taste funny, but if you filter the water, you can see the elements in it.
If you wash your whites without bleach, they look dingy.
Life here, for the most part, is a never ending cycle of living day to day
for most people. The women bind what little pieces of society there is.
Most of the people have become apathetic to their situations. The ones
that still care are the ones that are motivated to make women, and since
women are still taking care of the family, buying food for dinner
everyday, there is little concern for their own welfare.
Feminism is a dirty word. If a woman goes un-married past 30, she is
considered a hag.
Most of the girls here are very thin. Men get used to seeing this and the
comfort I felt last year about being here as a larger woman has now been
eroded. It's not because these women WANT to be so thin, but because they
have no understanding of nutrition or because they prefer to buy a new
pair of Versace jeans.
Women take pride in their dress for the most part. They own 2 or 3 really
expensive, uncomfortable outfits. And this year, the fashion is platform
shoes. I was told that the reason girls wear such shoes is to feel
superior to the boys by being taller and because high heels were a luxury
to own back when Russia was Communist.
Entertainment for the masses are poorly dubbed programs from around the
world, mostly American. There are movies available here that I have never
heard of. You can buy new movies here for roughly $6, such as striptease.
Nothing here is permanent, it seems, most of the movies or cassettes are
of groups that are popular today. Copyright laws are a joke. Nobody is
going to prosecute since nobody has money.
It's all really quite tragic. I feel responsible, to a certain point,
because I am an American... but then I just let go because there is
nothing I can do but observe and watch as generations die and hope
Russia's future is brighter, but I know in my heart that the general
population will mostly remain followers, and not leaders.