Personality Cults

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have pretty much decided to quit my stint living in a dacha and working for a local government official. The deal was for me to speak English with the wife of the official. In reality, I became a nanny for their neglected and overly energetic child. I was mostly left alone with the child for hours. The child’s main form of entertainment was jumping on me and hitting me. I’m not sure if some of the bruises that I have are from Taekwondo or the child. I have decided that having the use of a driver and living in my own dacha is not enough of a compensation for being attacked by a child five days a week. I think I will go to their house twice a week after Taekwondo. If the wife is there, I will try to speak with her in English. If not, I think I can brave spending an hour or two with the daughter. In addition to fearing for my safety whilst trying to eat my dinner (four year olds are quite proficient at stabbing you with pens apparently), I was tired all of the time and couldn’t properly prepare for all of my classes. This is a valid concern of mine. At the end of the year, I will be taking a state Russian language exam. As I have to pay for the exam, and because it is an accomplishment that I would like to achieve, I really need to buckle down and prepare. Is there such a thing as delayed senioritis? I managed to get through last year without any problems, but recently I’ve developed a sever aversion to studying and doing my homework.

I prefer taking photos of cars to doing my homework. A Land Rover Discovery, probably from the mid to late 1990s. I love the missing bumper. Fun fact about these - the terrible electrical system meant that the airbags often didn't deploy during accidents. Also it was improperly designed so that in frontal impacts, the engine would go into the passenger cabin and break the legs of the drivers and passengers. Good thing we had one of these for about six years.

One thing that I have realized whilst living with the government official is that the Soviet system never really ended. The strange personality cult for leaders still somewhat exists. This particular official’s house is filled with objects with his face on them. Granted, many are probably gifts, but it’s still pretty strange to have a large portrait of yourself in your office. I also didn’t really enjoy drinking my morning tea out of a mug with a photo of the official and Medvedev on it. Lastly, I really hope he didn’t pay someone to paint his face on a nesting doll.

Also, as I have already mentioned, I find it funny that the vehicle of choice for the officials is still primarily the GAZ Volga sedan. While talking to one of the drivers, I found out that there are only a few foreign cars owned by the local government. They have a few UAZ jeeps, which are made in the city; however, the majority of the vehicles are Volgas. After riding in a series of them, I couldn’t quite tell if they were five years old or twenty years old. The majority of them have around 250,000km on the odometers (roughly 155,000 miles). My beloved Mercedes passed that milestone years ago and now has roughly 260,000 miles on it. Unlike the Volgas, most of the things on my car (save for the A/C) work. For example, my seats, while slightly warn out and sprung, do not shift oddly in undersigned ways while the car is in motion. Also, all of the seat belts work. Snowy Russian roads plus crazy drivers really make me want working seat belts. Additionally, the Volga was designed as the vehicle of the Soviet government official. Although it was meant for the elite of Soviet society, it is far from luxurious. The interior is sparse and mostly made of black plastic. The seats are all cloth. As far as I can tell, the cars have maximum four speakers for the radio, most of which never seem to work. I’m not sure what the engine specs of these cars are, but the engines are underpowered for the large size and weight of the whole car. The only positive that I can find is that there is a lot of leg room in the backseat.

The GAZ Volga. What I am usually driven in. I get super excited when I get to ride in an UAZ instead.

On Monday, I brokered a deal with the family to let me sleep in the dormitory again. Living in my own dacha for two weeks was fun, but far too inconvenient. Upon returning to the dormitory, I realized how much I missed my neighbors. Generally, I don’t spend too much time with them, but it’s nice to talk with them in the kitchen or hallways from time to time. Tonight, one of my neighbors said that he was beginning to get worried because he hadn’t seen me in a while. One of the other neighbors, from Moldova, offered me some cognac from Moldova as well as tea. Another group of neighbors gave me some of the plov that they had made. As much as I may complain to people at the university about how my neighbors make a lot of noise (9.30AM on a Saturday is too early to start playing Eminem at full volume), I truly do like them very much. I am glad to have met each and every one of them and will miss them.

My bear and I will just have to readjust to the small bed in the dormitory.

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