Wednesday, I went with another teacher to Moscow. A driver who works at the school (this school has everything and the drivers take us to the bus stop for free) drove us to a metro stop at the city’s edge. Before we left, I was assured that we’d be making the trip in a Ford. (American cars are prized here, and they come way more expensive than they do at home, by the way).
Our driver, a middle-aged guy sporting a seventies-era mustache, wanted to know why I wanted to be in Russia. He said stuff like, “I don’t like Americans,” and “you listen to everything and you don’t say a word, are you KGB?” and, when the other teacher told him I was surprised about the lack of seatbelts in the back seat, he said “Seatbelts aren’t necessary for Russians”. When we left the car, the other teacher explained to me that this was a man of the Soviet era. “He doesn’t understand why people from America would want to come to a poor country like Russia, and he feels that he has to defend his homeland from foreigners who only want to do his country harm”.
Russia totally still has room for lots of people like this. Walking around Moscow, you’ll see in its monuments and plaques that they didn’t try very hard to get all the Communism out. But I shouldn’t say too much more on this topic, because there’s still so much I’m going to need to see and understand before I can have much perspective on how Russians see their past.