“Mother-in-law said that she will stay with us for two months in the summer,” said my Russian colleague one morning, hurrying into the office.
I’m not particularly surprised, because I know that Russian mother-in-law think such things are perfectly normal. Still, I shuddered.
— Two months?
— She wanted that.
— You agreed to this?
— Somehow we will manage. After all, she is the mother of my husband.
My colleague was not too happy with this idea. Still, I can see that it’s not so much annoyed by this situation as I would be annoyed me. In her view, is simply to survive. Mother-in-law is a mother — in-law, and also older people. And at this age a person has certain rights.
Every day in Moscow I am going to work in the subway or on the bus, and there are often scenes that are very well reflect the attitude of Russian elderly. Whenever an elderly person enters a bus or subway, somebody stands up and offers his seat. I do it too. Many politely refuse and prefer to stand, but to offer them a seat should still.
If you go during rush hour, buses are filled to capacity, with many forced to stand including the elderly. Recently I was crowded together with the rest in a crowded bus, and went to another woman. In appearance she was in her 70s, she was in a summer dress and sunglasses, as well as a huge summer hat with brim. A woman demanding looked at those who were sitting. But since most of them were about her own age, she could not command them to rise up.
A woman stood in the aisle next to me and two young mothers with prams.
“People stopped to give way to the elderly. It’s awful! The only one who stands up is the ethnic minorities,” she stated with irritation.
“Do people get up if they ask. When I was pregnant, I heard that people no longer give way, but if you tell them, they’ll cave,” said one of the moms very polite and nice.
“At least you know it’s been 60 years since we launched the first space satellite?” — my aunt yelled in response, clearly perking up and seeing the prospect of small quarrels. To mate with complete strangers is a favorite pastime of Russian, to kill time, and you can start with anything.
“Why do I not know?” — asked the young woman, still as polite and friendly.
“Now people do not know anything. I work at the space research Institute, and now has cut several hundred employees. 17 years of terror! And all because this poor Putin!” — broke lady in a hat with a brim.
During the conversation a sense of humor never changed young woman. She wasn’t even angry with her without any reason accused of ignorance, and the ignorance of the Soviet space program. It was about the older man, so she was gracious.
Older Russians know that they are allowed what is not allowed to the young. Sometimes this can result in some unpleasant situation, but most often it is in the first place is ridiculous. Elderly people are some crazy creativity, they no longer care what other people think, and they know they can afford more than others because of its age and rich of human and life experience.
Aunt in the bus reminded me of Filipenko after a storm that has gone along with her house in the book Tove Jansson “Filipinka who believed in disasters”. Her art do the talking was a perfect example of this insane creativity. And its companion at 50 years younger all took from it is perfectly normal. I think she had as much fun as I did.