Jennifer Glinzak, choral manager
While Dan spoke about all the concert goings, this post is a fair bit different. As Americans, we are learning quite a lot about Russian life and its people through our daily interactions and observations.
Since the beginning of our trip in Moscow and our journey eastward, a notable shift in fashion and lifestyle has become apparent. Women, it seems, are more and more inclined to wear higher and higher heels the farther out we got. I literally saw women walking around in everyday wear with some serious 6 inch stilettos (I honestly thought those were for photo shoots only). Also, a phenomenon in Yekaterinburg of every single woman wearing hose, regardless of shorts or skirts. Men have it easier, just looking European rather than holding to strict fashion rules.
At the same time as the fashion elevation comes the decline in living standards. Like all large cities, there are poor neighborhoods and off the charts rich folks, but the wealth disparity is augmented by the number of people on the less fortunate side. The city center in Perm was lovely, as it is in Yekaterinburg; but only a few blocks out in any direction and the cityscape changes almost immediately. Gone are the tended sidewalks, kept up buildings, and even finite rules of the road.
On a lighter note, the difference in food is hard to ignore. Super markets are stocked with a vast selection of juices. I don’t know why, but Russians love juice of any and all kinds. Think the US selection of soda products and change it out with juice – only theirs are sweetened naturally or with a little cane sugar. Another notable difference is the extreme lack of salty snacks, which are primarily confined to US brands.
The hotels are somewhat strange to our sensibilities too. We have yet to have a coffee maker (Russians on the whole are tea drinkers), microwave, or even an iron and board. Two of the three hotels we’ve stayed in also use the concierge system meaning one key per room that gets turned into the front desk or floor lady when both people have left for the day. We’ve only had twin beds in each our hotels, which although small has been nice for most of us because of the difference in sleep schedules that we individually keep.