Interesting things about Russia
After visiting Russia this month, we had a great time with our son but I also had a great time seeing the culture.
Here are the things I noticed (very interesting)

Most of the younger women are blond or dyed blond.

The women wear long boots and are dressed very nicely, and very thin I might add.

The people there never make eye contact with you unless they are speaking directly to you.

I think the funniest thing is that they can all talk at the same time and they don't wait for the other person to finish speaking

Finally, in the space that 2 cars fit on our American highways, they can easily fit 3 cars and they do not have lanes. Amazingly they drive very well.

They are very nice people and I can't wait to go back. Any other observations???
I've been to Russia 3 times now, once as a tourist and twice for your adoption and I agree with your observations except for the bit about them driving well. We found that Moscow drivers were maniacs!!!
The people are very good looking and the women all have great figures. Not as much junk food i guess. Everyone dresses up all the time, no sloppy jeans or tracksuits. People drink alcohol in the street. No one smiles and no one queues up. After a while we got good at telling people off for jumping the queue. It didn't matter that it was in English. Talking about queues. we found when we had the baby with us people let us go to the top of queue which was really nice. We found that the Russian people we got to know are all really good people. We were loked after very well.
In Moscow we noticed that the women were very thin and well dressed. I guess all that walking they do to get around keeps them thin. Also I noticed our coordinator ate like a bird.
They drive like maniacs, but no accidents. They smoke all the time everywhere.

In Stavropol, the women were not quite as thin, hair was darker or died an unnatural shade of red.

I found that if you spoke with them in both regions they were very friendly, but did not say hello or make eye contact unless you were speaking with them.

My observations about Russia and its people:

--Some people "have," many "have not." The middle class is much less distinct in Russia. In other words, there is a much bigger division between those who have money and those who have almost nothing.
--Russia always has been and always will be deeply connected to its military
--Russian boys (from birth to death) are absolutely obsessed with cars ("machinas")
--Traffic is wild and wacky. Yet, you don't see that many accidents.
--Many pairs of pointy shoes (men and women)
--Young people (teens and 20-somethings) dress up more (especially on dates) Nice, European look!
--Rarely do you ever see blue jeans
--Smoking is a HUGE public health problem
--Raw vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc) are a popular part of the Russian diet... For breakfast, too!
--Seat belts? Nope.
--People are lining up to buy cell phones
--The ratio of clerks-to-customers in Russian stores is a lot higher than in U.S. businesses
--Russian TV newscasts spend a lot of time covering "crime and punishment." They love to show video of people being arrested.
--Yes, there is a Russian version of "American Idol." (Obviously from the same producers --same format, look, logo design)
--Some Russian radio stations: Every third or fourth song is an American pop song (in English)

It's a very interesting, engaging culture!

We get a chuckle out of the fact that one of the first things our daughter went after was my wife's one pair of high, pointy toed boots with, for her, high heels. Our daughter found them in the closet and now likes to carry them everywhere in the house. She is a real Russian lady!

We were amazed how Russian women could wear such high thin heals on such uneven sidewalks even in the ice and snow.
St. Petersburg was so very contemporary and all of the women dressed to the nines! Pointy toes were very big (last fall) as were fur jackets and stylish hats! Everyone smokes and the driving in St. Petersburg was horrible to say the least (I would make my husband sit in the front with our translator because I was too scared)! The funniest thing was the parking because it was all over the place, literally! Many, Many tourists in St. Petersburg so heard many languages but in the restaurants most menus were in Russian and English and everyone pretty much spoke English. Wonderful city and great culture!
I also noticed that everyone holds hands or links arms while out walking. Couples, moms & daughters, friends, whatever. It was great bonding for dh and I! Smile
In general, the people seem to be very good people. They were honest, sincere, and genuinely interested in helping you get what you needed - even at McDonalds.

One thing I did miss, was a gentlmanly nature. I'm from the South, and there were no southern gentlemen in Russia. Men would cut in front of me if I paused when opening a door, or approaching a sales counter, and forget being offered a seat on the subway.
If the women were very thin do you think there would be discrimination against overweight people?
We also traveled to St. Pete. One thing I wasn't expecting were the number of "short people" especially the women. It seemed like most were either 4'10"-5"2" or close to 6'. There didn't seem to be a lot in between. There also weren't as many blondes as I would've expected. Most of the thin ones were in the younger crowd. Many of the older women were plump, but I definitely don't remember any obese people. Most of the street vendors can usually speak enough English to sell you something. I agree on the parking thing. Parallel parking was sideways, backwards, nose in with rear sticking out, rear in with nose sticking out, 3 deep with one on the sidewalk. There were also quite a few "American" vehicles. Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevy Trailblazer, Ford Expeditions, Escapes, and pick ups to name a few (we were surprised). We noticed many linked arms as well, even the young girls. The traffic was insane, but we only saw one wreck in a week. The food was terrific, but the meat smell at breakfast was really too much for me. They also had things like sushi for breakfast. I loved it and can't wait to go back. I think this is now potentially a future vacation spot.
We loved the people both in Moscow and in Kemerovo. There were a lot of very thin women and very pointy shoes. I'm overweight, but didn't feel discriminated against at all. Loved the borscht, and the recipes are different in different regions, so try it in Moscow, and again in your region.

There are a lot of Fords there now, because there's a Ford manufacturing facility there (I believe in St. Pete). Also a Toyota manufacturer there. I was amazed at how many new vehicles I saw, especially when it was explained to us that a car costs roughly the equivalent of 5 years salary.
I just thought of something funny. My husband and I ate at this breakfast buffet everyday and they had pancakes there. There were 4 containers next to the pancakes. I wanted maple syrup so I reached for the brown colored one. I sat down and just about gagged. I poured vinegar on my pancakes AAAAGGGHHHH
Whats up with that???
thin women, pointy shoes, we noticed too. But in our region ("Gateway to Siberia") there were a lot of dye-job redheads. We found we could never get a direct answer from our questions; we had to talk "around" a subject, or talk to each other about something, to lead our translator/drivers to give us info.
We ran into some young teenage girls at a restaurant who were learning English. They wanted to practice very badly with us, and sat at our table and asked us all kinds of questions about America.
While in Moscow we saw a government official being escorted through the streets. Traffic stopped for him, and the car in front had "beaters" in them - they actually hit the roofs of other cars with billy clubs if they weren't getting out of their way. It was amazing to me.
When we were with Roman, we went to the front of every line.
And had to add, everyone was on a cell phone. And our favorite thing to hear, is when they'd answer: "Da. Da. Da. Da da da da da da da." Honestly, I laughed everytime I heard it.
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