The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “culture

A Single Story of Soviet Russia

Posted on December 3, 2012

“I don’t know what hunger is,” said Mikhail: teacher, father, product of the Soviet Union. It was strange hearing that from him, even more so with a bright smile in his eyes and overall jovial demeanor, as if he were discussing a recent hockey victory and not a supposedly sore subject. Rather, as an American it was strange hearing that. I think of the USSR, and I think of tanks, grayness, secrecy, scary and impenetrable Cyrillic lettering, looming misery, and long bread lines in inclement weather; the depressing and immoral yield of a communist machine; the enemy of capitalism and, consequently, freedom. So how could Mikhail even utter the words: “I was a teenager. I didn’t have problems”? Of course you had problems! The…

Theory of Omission

Posted on October 10, 2012

This story has three players: Ernest Hemingway, St. Petersburg, and an American in Russia for the first time. We’ll call him Chad. This story doesn’t end well for Chad. Hemingway Bar is located on Ulitsa Lomonsova, a dark and eerily silent street in the lively city center. The bar in question is surrounded by abandoned buildings and telling foreclosures slapped with bulletins in intimidating Cyrillic lettering. But the place lights up at night. It lights up and its emanating glow attracts all those moths looking for a drink. Sadly, it’s not quite the place Hemingway would frequent; the neon lights and bad music tell me so. My favorite bars are the ones where I can picture the man himself in the corner enveloped by…

A Russian Ballet and Zoom Cafe

Posted on October 1, 2012

In you’re ever in a foreign land, let me divulge a crucial not-so-secret secret that I find people sometimes forget. Take the time, spare the energy, and spend the money to go to places and do things. You’ll only regret not going to those places and not doing those things. In my case, I’ve been trying to maximize my time in Peter by seeking out the best bars and food and Russian cultural experiences, like the ballet and Zoom Cafe for instance. While I’m not one to be the most appreciative of ballet, this rendition of Don Quixote was visually stunning. And Zoom Cafe, the swanky restaurant featured below, is seriously cool. It’s like a lounge covered in books, pillows, coloring-book menus, crayons, and…

10 Things About Russia

Posted on September 14, 2012

If someone repeatedly calls your cellphone asking for Maria Borisovna in a loud and confused manner, simply saying “wrong number” will not make them go away. Instead, they will call you repeatedly, ask you for your name and how they can reach Maria Borisovna. Simply saying “I don’t know any Maria Borisovna. Stop calling me” will not make them go away. Hanging up will make them go away, but only temporarily. If you’re a woman and you show any part of your legs without wearing stockings, people will think you’re a prostitute. Well. That explains a lot. Russians believe that if you’re a woman and you sit on any cold surface, it will inevitably make you barren. That also explains a lot. If you…

Every American is Obese

Posted on July 27, 2012

Americans don’t travel internationally as much as Europeans. Not only am I not knowledgeable enough to explain why this is, I’m not ready to speak for the entire country. Money issues? Lack of curiosity or interest? Societal pressures to work as soon as school finishes? Fear? These speculations have the potential to go on ad infinitum, so I just won’t speculate. As a result, people ask questions when they find out where I’m from. They ask about the ‘typical’ American – what do we eat? What do we do for fun? What are the obesity rates nowadays? The Swedish image of the typical American is horrid – fat, heavy breathing, languid, speaking in a slow Southern drawl that parallels an equally slow intellect. Then…

Coffee Breaks are Underrated

Posted on January 25, 2011

If I took anything away from Argentina, it would be the value of sitting and drinking coffee. Frequenting cafes is a way of life there, just like in Europe, and I just wish it were a custom in the US that I could partake in daily. The chaos, the rush, the go-go-go attitude here can be very off-putting and stressful, and I believe everyone would benefit from adopting this custom. It’s about enjoying the moment and not taking life too seriously. If I had any complaint about the students at my university, it would be that they’re too future oriented and not at all present oriented. Some kids can’t wait to graduate the moment they’re accepted in college. Who ever said these were supposed…