Saturday, 19 September 2009

Live simply and trust one another

According to the charming Azerbaijani Namik (pictured - far right), who we interviewed on the train from Moscow to Kazan, Lenin once said: "Live more simply and see how people will come closer to you". It's a lovely phrase and one I'd like to think is true.

We've been in Russia for nearly a week now and have interviewed about ten people so far. We had prepared ourself for a certain amount of hostility to my climate change questions - or at least apathy - yet we have found anything but. There has been curiosity, thoughtfulness and debate. They also think that most other Russians don't think about the issue but this has not been my experience. Despite some protests to the contrary, everyone I've spoken to so far has had a well developed opinion and most of them have been concerned and taking practical action.

We have noticed something odd about the Russian nature. We are constantly warned by extraordinarily friendly people that their countrymen are not to be trusted. We suspect this is a result of years of being encouraged to inform on one another during Soviet times and perhaps a feeling that the country's worst recent turmoils have been wrought from within.

Whatever the cause We'd like to suggest that they should fear less. From the eight burly Russians (pictured above) on their way to their military school reunion who plied us with Cognac and compliments on the Moscow-Kazan train to the lovely Tartar Alina (pictured) in Kazan, who stopped to ask us if we needed help in an internet cafe and ended up giving us a free personal guided tour, we have been shown nothing but kindness. Perhaps this is because we have shed most of our belongings and are living more simply but we'd like to think that Russians deserve more credit than they give one another.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Brilliant!

    Glad you're having a fantastic time.

    Keep up the good work...


  2. This phrase quoted incorrectly. It's not LIVE but BE. The author is unknown (a folk proverb). It has nothing to do with Lenin, of course. Usually means smthng like "know who you are and don't struggle to become someone you are not meant to be". Or, even more often: "don't be so boring". This is very annoying phrase and usually people answer with another Russian folk proverb: "Simplicity is worse than stealing".
    And allow me to disagree about trust. Usually people are good and can be trusted. But there's always a chance of the opposite and you wouldn't want to try that. You are lucky (and you are English, Russians admire good old England). But you have very few observations to make such a conclusion.

  3. And don't go to (F.'s url) because it appeared to be infected. I'll fix it later.
    F. (Baumanskaya, Msk)