Friday, June 04, 2004

The voice from beyond the seven seas

This is the voice of an American living overseas (Russia, to be more precise). Over this past year I have settled in with my family, have bought, paid for and renovated my own apartment, and have gone into business for myself.
It hasn't been easy, but there are many things that compensate for the challenges here. Political correctness doesn't exist, as a teacher, if a child runs up to me and hugs me I don't have to worry about losing my job, and I set my own conditions and schedule. Rather than being hired I can hire a manager (rather like a boxer) for PR and admin. An end to both rent (as such) and house payments is a major relief. I can let my son go to the store to buy bread like I did as a kid and not worry about (what anyone in CA has to worry about). Just as a side note - while I was there, I visited my local CAPD in accordance with Megan's Law and found to my horror that there are anywhere from 100-200 released felons in each zip code, with up to 20% being the worst kind! Well, here, that's not the case.
While there is good and bad everywhere, I have learned that most Americans have a hard time imagining that any aspect of life could be better in a country that is not America, so my Russia ramblings tend to focus a little more on that. There are problems here, to be sure. Journalistic censorship, corrupt cops that take bribes at every traffic stop, poverty… But that’s stuff that The NY Times wastes no time in telling you, and I’d rather give you what the mass media doesn’t.
Just one more little tidbit – there’s this really neat drink called kvass (kvahss), fermented like beer from black bread crust somehow, but essentially non-alcoholic. It is a cross of, and has all the good qualities of both beer and Coke, with the disadvantages of neither. You can get it sometimes in Russian/Eastern European stores in larger cities. Watch out for fakes – “kvass drinks”. The real kind continues to ferment, and has been sold in bottles with little holes drilled in the top to let the gas escape. The FDA would probably disapprove, and it can be a pain to transport, but it’s real, and it’s good.

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