St. Petersburg: Lesha, a 3rd year music student in St. Peterburg, was waiting for friends at the airport dressed in an USA print t-shirt. Lesha grew up in Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city, and took to music at an early age. Lesha, who enjoys pop, rock, jazz and classical, prefers playing the piano.
BISHKEK: There two friends from Osh were returning to university in Bishkek. They were carrying a heavy bag toward their housing block. I found their shirts ironic. One is studying law, the other architecture.
NIZHNY NOVGOROD: ''There is a widely held view that Americans' smile is fake and that they teach them to smile from childhood. What is wrong with that?'' ''In my view, it is much more pleasant to see people with smiles on their faces when out walking or taking public transport tha gloomy, gray faces," wrote Lena, a Nizhny Novgorod university student, in a long text on her Russian social media page dedicated to her trip to Texas through the 'Work and Travel' program. I asked Lena to share her thoughts about the US and she directed me to her text. "I often met Americans that confused Russia and Ukraine, some thought it was one country, others thought Russia was part of Ukraine while others didn't know the USSR even collapsed." She concluded her text with the following: "Don't judge a nation's people by their leaders."
ST. PETERSBURG: Sergei, 42, said he grew up in Riga, Latvia but moved between Russia and Germany right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He said he later moved to the US, where he lived for nearly 10 years, working part-time in a gym. Since 2006, he has been in St. Petersburg working as an individual trainer. He says he hopes to go back to the US for visit in the coming years.
While walking around the shopping mall near my house, I was struck by a food stand near the elevator: ‘Bakery by Men’ it read. In a country where the president flies in jets, cruises on submarines, practices judo and rides horses, ‘Bakery by Men’ seemed bold. I stopped by to talk to the guy working the shop that day. Alexei said he had moved to Moscow in early March 2014 from Sevastopol…just days after Russia began the process of annexing the region. He said he was planning to come to Moscow at the end of February as he had fallen in love with a girl from Moscow that he met through social media network Vkontake.
I first noticed Karin on the streets of Volgograd thanks to his bright orange hat. Then I noticed his "New York 1986" shirt. He said he was from the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, an unstable country bordering Afghanistan. Like many if his countrymen, he had come to Russia to work due to low salaries, few jobs at home. He said he was working on a construction site for the summer in Volgograd (former Stalingrad).
Here is another photo in the short series of people wearing USA flag shirts in Moscow. Vadim, who grew up in Tatarstan, said he was studying music in Moscow and was forming a band with his friend. He said his grandfather was a photographer after the war in their small town in Tatarstan and left behind not only cameras, but lots of photos as well. I bet there is a good exhibition to be had about life in a simple soviet town if someone takes the time to go through them.
Pasha doesn't need to worry about problems with his USA-themed shirt in Moscow. The Yakutia native is a wrestler.