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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Welcome to my new blog

What should I tell my children about my experiences in Russia? That this is a “boom and bust” country of extreme experiences … and emotions?

It’s hard to say. So many of my friends--Russians, Americans, Scandinavians, Asians—are having the same experiences in their countries.

“Here we are again, another crisis to deal with!” Most of these friends are pure entrepreneurs, men and women who took the leap of faith in 1991 and 1992 … when things were even bleaker than today.

There we were, an entire new generation of risk takers born from the images of Boris Yeltsin, sitting proudly, nervously on the tank, listening to the soothing words of Yegor Gaidar.

Some of these friends back then had no other calling but the idea that Russia was the place to make a quick buck. Sad, but true. To many this country represented one of the last Klondike expeditions, a golden opportunity to make a fortune! Some did, and we know some still trying, but the effort and ideal is always the same, to gain some golden access to some quick riches.

Most of these people eventually moved on to other adventuresome destinations. Russia is not for the impatient or fool hearty; Russia is for those who believe in a “cause”.

For some it’s personal, for some it’s philosophic, or for a greater good, for others like me, it’s because we believe in a better future for Russia and its next generations who will have to live in this world long after we have gone.

In any case, chalk this up to “idealistic pragmatism”.

Coming back to my children - they are too young to read now—so I’d like to use this blog as an opportunity to eventually explain to them what exactly this roller coaster life in Russia has been like to an American father and Russian wife.

Beyond my children, this is platform I hope will ultimately help many of our friends and families to understand exactly what we have all gone through as ex-pats living in Russia.

This is not a country where it is easy to adapt. Russia evolves, and either you evolve with her or like a lost child, you won’t find your way.

I think one of the reasons Russia is so hard for so many people to cope with it its uncanny ability to absorb external qualities which other countries would never even consider. It’s like watching a patient accept an organ which his body rejects. What a most remarkable experience!

One question I keep asking myself is how is it possible for a country to be simultaneously as selfish as anything Ayn Rand could have dreamed up and at the same time a most collective experience for an outsider to wonder at? Am I alone in these feelings?

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