People from Russia — Interviews on the Streets -
Read what common
Russian people think about foreigners and life in general...
September 24, 2003
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driver of a minibus-shuttle
Explains how Swedish people are different from Russians and
How we met: I took “marshrutka” - the
popular mean of transport in Moscow nowadays. It is a minibus which serves the
same routes as usual buses but it’s speedier and costs a bit more. I had
a seat near the driver and started to talk with him...
Bio: Sasha is the driver of the shuttle in
Moscow. He also worked for three summer seasons in Sweden
as a driver.
Recommendations: I asked Sasha what would
he advise to the foreigners to do in Russia.
Sasha: “I don't know. It depends on the person. If he’s
interested in the architecture, then - let him wonder round
the city. In general they should communicate more with Russians
to find out what Russia is.
Quotes: I asked him if foreigners use his
bus and if they are different in a way.
Sasha answered pointing to a black man standing in the street:
“Look there are many foreigners like him - students...
I like them, they come to study. Students are same everywhere,
no difference. Well, foreigners feel themselves more relaxed
in the bus, they drink beer inside and have no complexes”
asked him what he thinks of foreign countries in general and
it is occurred that he worked for three years in Sweden.
Sasha: ”Life in Sweden is definitely better, we will
never have such a life here. Look, in their villages there
are hot water, central heating and asphalt… But, Russians,
how to say, are more open. You know what, if I have problems
I will discuss it with my mate. If Swedish has problems, he
will sit silent like nothing happens. Besides, If I want to
visit my friend I will go to him directly, Swedish would make
an appointment 2 weeks beforehand, can you imagine this?”
Me: “Would you like to live in Sweden?”
Sasha: "No, I don’t. I’d like to earn money
there, but spend it in Russia.
guide in Altay region
How we met: When we were at Olkhon island
on Baikal lake we met there this guy Artur at Nikita
Bencharov's bed & breakfast, who was renting mountain
bikes. We told him we were going to Altay soon, and
he gave us the contacts of Alexey, whom, he said, was
a very good and knowleadgeable Altay guide. When we
arrived to Novosibirsk, we contacted Alexey and arranged
to meet in Barnaul. He is a really great guy and it
was interesting to spend one week at Altay with him.
Bio: Alexey was born on Sakhalin island (which
is near Japan), but moved to Barnaul (near Altay)
to become a student. Since then his life was always
connected with Altay: he used to be part of the national
rafting team, worked in the local rescue team, directed
huge teams of construction workers, and now he is working
as a tour guide in Altay region. He has three minibuses
and arranges auto trips to the mountains.
Thanks, to him, WayToRussia.Net team could see the
best places at Altay, and he told us a lot of interesting
things about the region.
Altay mountains: Alexey thinks that Altay
mountains are very good for rafting. In fact, this
is his favourite activity there: to go down the river,
and stop at the new unexplored places. In fact, many
of the stories that he told us were used in our Altay
Guide, so you can read it for more info.
About Altay people: Alexey respects Altay
people, but he thinks that they are quite weak. Actually,
it is true — a lot of people at Altay, especially
men, are alcoholics. When the Cossacks were exploring this
region a few hundred years ago, they brought with them
the "fire water" - vodka - and local people got addicted
to it. They don't have any immunity against alcohol, so
they become drunk very fast. Often, there are problems
related to it, like bullying and trying to get money from
travelers. However, it's not something too common.
However, generally, Altay people are very kind and sincere.
They have a great respect for older generations and for
About his car: Alexey has two own cars Toyota
Camry and Nissan. Both are 8-seat minibuses made in Japan
more than 10 years ago. If you saw through what kind of
roads we were able to go with his Toyota, you would be
amazed. It seemed to be more like a 4WD jeep, rather than
a small old rusty minibus. Alexey says that all old Japanese
cars didn't have too much electronics, and the engines
were quite good, that's why they're so reliable and powerful
and easy to repair. Also, he said, that if you have a manual
gear it's better in the mountains, because you can always
start your car with a "push" even if you accumulator is
a taxi driver from Barnaul,
How we met: I ordered a taxi from Barnaul
to Novosibirsk airport and Kostya was the driver. We drove
in the night for about 4 hours and had an interesting conversation.
About being a taxist: "Working as a taxi
driver used to be quite hard in Russia a few years ago. You
were always at a risk of being stabbed by someone from the
Now it's not dangerous anymore, but still, just in case,
in our taxi company we have this rule that if anybody is
in trouble, it's just enough to say "desyatka" in the radio
and in 1 minute there will be thirty cars at the place where
About working as a truck driver: Kostya
used to work as a truck driver in the early 90s. He said
it was a tough job. "We used to driver in groups always.
We had these old trucks, Kamaz, which is a really uncomfortable
car. Every journey something breaks and all the parts are
so heavy, that only two people can carry it, if you need
to repair anything... But the worst thing were those bandits
who stop you on the road and ask to pay money if you want
to go further or they take the stuff you're carrying. Some
drivers who were carrying expensive things were even killed.
It's not like this with everybody. If you're driving a TIR
truck, they are protected by FSB (Russian Federal Security
Bureau) and nobody wants to mess with them. But then the
license to have a TIR costs a lot..."
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