Our Slavic brothers and sisters from across the pond can be just as scrappy as we are, and a little bit over the top at that.
Aside from their weapons, brutalist soviet architecture apparent in our homes and an unwavering love for good times, actions before words, and sunflower seeds, our whiter, slightly less cheerful friends in the former Soviet Union bear a great many similarities to us. The only difference is how they tend to bump things up a few notches with regards to absurdity (it’s just how they are). The World Cup is just around the corner, and seeing as it’s going to be held in Russia this time around, we decided to try and show you guys and girls how close we really are.
Talking about how insane Egyptian roads can get is as eventful as talking about the sun being hot, but comparing it to Russia and it’s phenomena is a whole other kettle of borscht. Though things have slowly been improving for both countries, a fair bit of Russia’s roads (depending on where you are, like us) are often sub-standard with regards to integrity, suffer from ungodly terrible traffic, and you can often slink out of a situation with the police with a little persuasion.
Unlike us though, liability fraud, armed carjacking and just indescribable shit can easily be found at any given moment on the asphalt.
Take me there
It’s not just their insanely intricate metro system that helps the reds move to and fro. The majority of Russians make a habit of using a Marshrutka to go anywhere between a neighbouring block to the nearest border. Marshturkas are typically more upscale models of minibus than what we have here in Egypt, but the insane driving skills, ludicrous speeds and severe shortage of breathing room inside are just the same, if not worse. Pair that with the fact that they have to speed along over icy roads for the majority of their lifespan, we have it a hell of a lot easier here in comparison.
I know, Kholoud, every country has its own version of a sarsagy, but none of them are quite like what the Russians have to deal with. The Gopnik (or Gopnitsa for the ladies) is your cigarette-bumming, fight-starting drain on society Russian equivalent of an Egyptian delinquent, except they do their best to deck themselves out in shiny jewelry, authentic Adidas tracksuits (if they can afford it), guns and grills.
An accurate anatomy
Why Adidas is a thing
You can find your garden-variety gopnik squatting outside massive apartment buildings, the metro, places where the police don’t roam around and really anywhere they shouldn’t be, with massive beer bottles and a nearby sound system for their tunes. Speaking of tunes…
Although it’s hard to approach the level of profundity and lyrical prowess of any of our prized Mahraganat, Gopniks, regular idiots and even the elite have a massive love for the country’s homegrown spin on electronic hard house, Hardbass. Your typical hardbass track (going at a smooth 150-170 BPM) sounds like two androids kicking the shit out of each other inside a synthesizer, but it’s pretty goddamn great nonetheless.Typical Hardbass gatherings include many a gopnik donning a mask of some sort, gathering around in public and just being delightful, usually accompanied by beer, a few baseball bats and friendly bonding.
No, this isn’t another meme. Out of the 12 months in a year that Russia has to endure, 9 or 10 of which are basically winter, and their winter is far, far worse than our summer. In the northern sections of Russia, temperatures can fall to as much as -40 centigrade, and the more south you go, the warmer it gets (although still below zero). They can handle their winter just as much as we can (barely) handle our summer, but their summer is as much a shock to them as our joke of a winter (which is all of six weeks) is to us.
Temperatures in the summer can reach as much as 33.6 centigrade in July, which to us would be a good day, but then again, 7 or 9 centigrade to us is an apocalypse.
They Have Halawa but Better
This, I feel, is kind of cheating, but interesting all the same. Across the Middle East, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Jewish cultures, Halva (the broader term for halawa) exists in a variety of ingredients and forms. Although typically, nut-based Halvas make use of sesame seeds (like ours), Russian and Eastern European countries use sunflower seeds for their inexpensive, homemade Halva.
Though I don’t exactly know the taste difference between both, I can imagine Russian Halva tasting a lot more interesting than your bog-standard sesame equivalent. On the note of sunflower seeds…
Few things in an Egyptian’s life can make the clock tick faster than nibbling away at a bag of roasted seeds from your local Me2la, despite the effect it can have on your blood pressure. Similarly, our ex-soviet friends treat their semechki (sunflower seeds or leb soory) as a ritual in stress management (and deliciousness). Though the west has conditioned us that potato chips are where it’s at when it comes to snacking, both Russians and Egyptians will always go for their fried bag of (sometimes salted) seeds for comfort.
I don’t know much about you, friendo, but when it came to my mother and those of my friends, fucking around on any of the carpets might as well be enough cause for your parents to disown you. A carpet might make the family home look and feel lived in, but to a Russian, a carpet is an integral, functional part of any home. They hang them on the walls (sometimes on the ceiling) to protect themselves from the blistering cold, cut down on noise levels, and generally as a status symbol. It’s such a near and dear tradition that it’s found its way to other areas of human novelty…
Setto, Teeta, Gedeto, what-have-you, Egypt’s grandmothers have their warm, healthy place in the hearts and minds of Egyptians the country over. Whether it’s the decades of experience, the kind smiles or the ability to whip up entire feasts if you’re feeling slightly peckish.
Russia’s Babushkas are a cornerstone of any proper family; often living with the family to provide wisdom, warm company and a variety of finely honed skills. Got fruit you don’t know what to do with? She’ll make sinfully sweet kompot with it. Lose some weight before seeing her? She’ll put it back on and then some at a moments’ notice.
Russia’s elderly are revered, respected and given the proper care and consideration that they deserve, much like here in Egypt, but they’re much hardier.
Obviously this isn't what Russia is all about; their culture, society, behaviour and everything in between is extremely similar to ours. But just like us, they're varied in all regards depending on where, what and who they are. An incredible place that everybody has to see and experience at least once, and a testament to the kind of beautiful history and tribulations that humanity is known for, Russia is one hell of a place.