There’s a Cracked podcast where they’re talking about logical fallacies that are hardwired into our brains, using as one example Russian dashcam footage that you find on Youtube. Even people with no interest in Russia (AKA most of the Western world) have run across these “meanwhile in Russia” videos, most of which are taken from dashboard cameras used by many Russian and Ukrainian drivers. As the hosts of the podcast explain, it’s not that wacky things are happening more often in Russia, it’s just that due to the prevalence of dashcams Russians are more likely to catch crazy things on camera. Like this:
The howitzer in the video above later resigned from the Russian armed forces just before it rolled across the border, founded a pseudo-state, and created yet another frozen conflict. Russia denies all involvement.
While yes, it is true that not every day in Russia involves soldiers cutting a tree down to save a cat or tanks jumping onto the road in front of oncoming traffic, anyone who has lived here for even a short while will tell you that you will experience some seriously weird shit. Today’s examples wouldn’t be too bizarre compared to what I’ve seen in the past decade, but firstly, I’m holding those back for my book, and secondly, they happened within the space of maybe a couple of hours.
The first was a young man who stops me on the street. I pull out my headphones and he asks me if I’m a skinhead. I find this odd because skinheads are not known to wear very baggy cargo pants, blouse their boots (they roll up their jeans), or navy blue peacoats. And while my head is indeed shaved, a haircut nature itself forced upon me, I was wearing a hat, so for all he knew I could have had a high-and-tight or a Ukrainian cossack chub underneath.
I informed him that no, I am not in fact a skinhead, and he then asked me if I’m an artist. Now these are both interesting choices I have to say. Hipsters are associated with art, and they have been known to appropriate all different sorts of styles. That being said, I have never heard of hipsters dressing up like skinheads and being neo-Nazis “ironically.” This was quite an odd pair of guesses- skinhead or artist.
He then told me he is a practitioner of yoga, and asked me about my karma. I told him it was fine. He tried to offer me some kind of book, no doubt on some Hindu-based faith, but I thanked him and went on my way. In retrospect, I should have told him to look up Savitri Devi if he ever wants to recruit actual skinheads to yoga classes.
A little bit later I come home and stop at a local grocery establishment. There is a crowd of young men gathered a few steps away from the door. At the door, I see a very old woman with a cane who appears to have trouble opening the door. Realizing that these ill mannered rapscallions are indifferent to the old crone’s plight, I promptly open the door and stand aside. And she moves forth…about an inch. Then a bit more. And a little bit more. I should point out that while she had a cane, she was not exceptionally frail, nor did she appear to be in pain. She was just moving extremely slowly for some reason.
Moving inside I am dismayed that my favorite tvorog is nowhere to be found. I might have consumed all of it this week. Thus besides having to acquire a few other provisions I took extra time examining and comparing the various brands and types of tvorog available. I then pay for my purchases. All in all, I’d say it was eight minutes.
I get outside, about to go my normal route home, and there’s that same old lady, who has managed to make it maybe twenty meters from the door. Still moving, seemingly inch by inch. Again, not rickety or visibly in pain, just super slow. Judging by her speed I’m guessing she works in the Russian post office.