Lessons Learned

Below are my observations from the Eastern Bloc thus far; most are funny, some are sad, and a few are just plain fact:

  • Sadly, there is no such thing as a Turkish coffee bean.
  • It’s still a supra if it happens every night.
  • Real men recite poetry while playing football drunk, and work 12 hours the next day.
  • The 80s made us what we are today. Don’t hate.
  • Turkish cocoa is crap; real Gs buy Russian.
  • The world can go on (mostly ok) without seat belts – and Tupperware.
  • Dancing is 10% technique, 90% courage, and 100% endurance.
  • Virtually all health-related problems – vomiting, the common cold, infertility – can be blamed on going barefoot in the house. Slippers cure all.
  • The leather jacket is a classic that shouldn’t be questioned.
  • School is four hours of catching up with friends. Tutoring is six hours of making up for lost time.
  • Every mineral water is distinctly different from the next.
  • Don’t bother silencing your cell phone. If you aren’t interrupting the movie/meeting/class, the person next to you will be.
  • Who needs chips when you have sunflower seeds?
  • Never wear shoes inside your home. It’s unbelievably unsanitary.
  • A cake’s worth can be judged by the amount of eggs it contains.
  • Your town has two Internet cafes: one for porn and Halo, and the other for innocent e-mail checking. Any girl who survives the former is deeply respected.
  • Crossing six lanes of busy traffic is as easy as putting on socks.
  • Computers are only a substitute for the latest phone.
  • Dogs are man’s best friend; tights are woman’s best friend.
  • Two things need advanced planning: charging electronics and drying clothes.
  • Fruit isn’t edible without sugar. Vegetables aren’t edible without salt. Sugar and salt are entirely edible by themselves.
  • Coupons are a Western thing. We know how to barter here, and are better because of it.
  • Be skeptical of the country man who uses a meter/GPS in his taxi. He knows neither distance nor direction, and will overcharge you as he’s accustomed to luring in tourists.
  • Few really want a fiancée, but those who have one happily admit it; everyone wants a boyfriend, but few who have one happily admit it.
  • Roses are cheap and plentiful; real love is measured by the size and brightness of a stuffed animal.
  • It’s not a party unless you do more standing/toasting than sitting.
  • Raw meat and vegetables never needed separate cutting boards. And no one ever needed cutting boards anyway.
  • When in doubt, blame Russia.
  • People who need to use more than one type of oil for cooking can’t really cook.
  • If she says, “No,” – try again. If she says, “Maybe” – stay away. If she says, “Yes,” – she isn’t a woman.
  • Street food, done right, is some of the best food you’ll ever eat in your life.
  • Dryers are a bizarre concept. Life goes on without them.
  • Everyone owns a lighter – if not for smoking then for fireworks.
  • Behind every great woman there is a stern babushka.
  • Always carry two handkerchiefs: one for wiping your nose, and one for wiping your heels.
  • Don’t trust chocolate unless the wrapper is translated into at least three languages.
  • … Don’t trust any other food if it’s translated into more than two.
  • Politics 101 through the generations: “Communism is always a good idea.” “Communism could’ve been a good idea.” “Communism will never be a good idea.”
  • There are many, many ways to save gas in a car. None of them are a good idea but they all work.
  • No, the dog doesn’t speak English, either.
  • There’s an inverse relationship between the number of cousins and the number of trips to the mechanic.
  • Hot water: You never know what you have until it’s gone.
  • Whoever said meat must be refrigerated after one hour was bullshitting.
  • Mice are bad news, but wasting food on traps is worse.
  • You aren’t Protestant, atheist, agnostic, Jewish, or anything else. You’re Orthodox. And you love it.
  • Bleached flour makes the world go ‘round.
  • “Do you like Obama?” “Yes.”
  • It’s easy to picture everyone in their underwear because you’ve seen it before.
  • Sweeping/vacuuming less than twice a week is disgusting. But the toilet can wait.
  • Tip a waitress if you want to confuse her.
  • Despite lack of obvious record keeping, store owners haven’t missed the memo on trends. Never repeatedly buy the same item from the same vendor unless you want to witness the mother of all inflation.
  • To fulfill sexual needs until marriage, men go to the brothel. Women must watch Spanish soaps.
  • Punctuality is almost as important as car seats.
  • Few things flatter a guy more than a well-chosen scarf.
  • No subtitles or dubbing? Who cares?! You’re at the CINEMA!
  • Toilet paper can double as streamers for parties.
  • Guys linking arms and professing their love to one another isn’t gay. It’s endearing and encouraged.
  • Established meal times aren’t logical. Eat what you want, when you want.
  • All the cool kids use Odnoklassniki.
  • There is no definite recipe for borscht. It’s everything, and sometimes not much of anything, at the same time.
  • Nutella: always imitated, never duplicated. (Don’t even think about buying Nussa!)
  • The most efficient, cheap adventure you could ever ask for? Marshutkas.
  • Don’t whine about food. Be grateful for what you get.
  • Liking folk music, jazz, classical, rock, rap, and pop is not contradictory at all.
  • Some ten-year-olds really can hold their liquor better than some forty-year-olds.
  • Everyone owns a blood pressure pump, and they know how to use it.
  • Sick? Skip the ambulance. Skip the hospital. Just pray.
  • America doesn’t have a littering problem, trust me.
  • One day you will be petting Rover and taking him for walks. The next day he might be road kill. This is very tragic, but it happens. Condition yourself to accept it.
  • Cats get no respect. Try to make their lives easier if you can.
  • At some point you must say “No” to more alcohol, or your liver will do it for you. And then praying won’t be of much help.
  • Don’t be afraid to say hello, even if you might not understand each other. Friendships don’t always demand much verbal communication.
  • Go shopping with a local to learn the correct prices of things. There will always be someone who tries to take advantage.
  • Make friends in every place you frequent.
  • Eating the stem of khinkhali is bad policy. Just don’t do it.
  • There is only one way to cook mtsvadi, but at least 3 ways to spell any name.

3 responses to “Lessons Learned

  1. This is absolutely hilarious and oh-so-sadly-true!

  2. I dont know if the author still checks this site or any other visitors but I have read everything on the website and its 90% accurate. I am the Georgian male and I could not stop laughing while I was reading this. It sad and entertaining at the same time…

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