Tuesday, August 29, 2006

[tales from the east] inside the russian mind

Citizen taking Vladimir Putin presents for his birthday

Churchill’s aphorism about the riddle wrapped in an enigma has always been taken out of context.

Referring to the predictability, or lack thereof, of the Russian, Churchill went on to posit that the key, the guiding principle, might just be national self-interest. Well yes – and not just with the Russian either, one would think but nevertheless, the point does stand.

In little ways, this comes home in daily life over here. For example, yesterday I was late for work, after my car decided to spring two punctures on me simultaneously – not unusual and this involves ignoring it and catching a car from the side of the road.

I can’t recall once in Britain doing such a thing but over here it’s the usual way. Thoughts of some homicidal maniac preying on the unsuspecting loiterer don’t enter into it. The hand needn’t even extend – it’s enough to be there on the bitumen and some car will stop for you and that’s that.

On the way to catch the car, there’s a wide, tree-lined nature strip and crossing this at an angle are two pathways, trapinki, meeting at an intersection. Approaching the intersection from the right, at a rate of knots, was a young guy, eyes firmly fixed ahead on the shop he was headed for.

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