Friday, July 27, 2012

Why I like it here

Frequently people ask me why I’m here. When I first started hanging out in Minsk I assumed that people who asked me that must imagine I’m a spy. Knowing the culture better now, I no longer flatter myself with that. I think they’re just curious, and possibly a little surprised. People more commonly wish to get out of Belarus than to get in, and the population is shrinking. Here I am, an American, with a passport that enables me to cross a large number of borders without so much as a visa. And what have I done? I’ve completed dozens of forms and filled my passport with stickers in order to get into this place.

My neighbor asked me about this very specifically the other day. He started out directly, asking what I’m doing here, and before I could answer he softened his question by pointing out that "we," meaning Belarusians, have to live here but I’ve made a choice that surprises him. I summarized for him some of the things I’ve written in my blog about what’s fun for me here, and subsequently related the story with some amusement to my friend Sergey.

Sergey’s a clever man and he offered me a better answer for the next time I get such a question. I should tell the questioner that I like the dairy products here. That’s true. Nobody’s ryazhenka compares with Minsk Brand, and I miss it when I’m away. But there’s more about living here that I find unique and wonderful.

Lately I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time getting weather forecasts. It’s not that I care all that much about the weather, but I’ve discovered a weather site that amuses me no end. It’s at Down at the bottom of the page they display a Flash animation of a model dressed for the weather. I discovered this a few days ago, when he was wearing shorts and flip-flops until it should start raining, at which time he put on a lighter shirt and added a transparent rain jacket. A few days ago he stopped wearing any of that stuff and started hanging out in his bathing suit. Then it got really hot and he appeared naked behind a guitar. A little rain doesn’t seem to bother his guitar, but on Monday he’s going to carry an umbrella while parading about naked.
There’s a radio button on the left side that flips the image to night-time. So far I’ve never seen him naked at night, but today I am puzzled by his choices because over the next three days the nighttime temperature forecast steadily increases but in the middle he puts on slightly lighter shoes and a slightly warmer shirt. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve studied this enough to know that his clothing sometimes changes a couple of times within an hour and it’s never warm enough to run around naked in downtown Minsk. Still, it’s entertainment I’d never find in Boston and another good reason to stay in Minsk.


  1. Nice reading Steve, I miss hanging out with you at school!

  2. Best blog I've ever read... and now I get to entertain myself with the weather "man"! Steve, maybe you can convince them to mix it up with a weather "girl" once in awhile!

  3. Thanks for the analysis Steve.I see that you've been having some hot weather with your cucumber coolers.
    I wonder why the guy wears sunglasses at night and not during the daytime. I think they got that one mixed up.