Emigration, as a class equaliser...

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
50,167
38,210
Toronto
Just thinking about an interesting phenomenon I have observed within our own Russian speaking diaspora, right here in Toronto.

We went to a party on New Year night with many fellow ex-Soviets. It's a great community, even my wife now feels welcome among them, not speaking the language or anything, she's made some friends among the ladies there lol

But, anyhow, I have noticed, especially among older people, and generally those more recently arrived, certain discomforts when it comes to these events on the holidays and hanging out with other people.

I kinda didn't really get it, for awhile. Than, this last New Year Party, we were at a table with a big family, parents, three kids, and a grandfather.

We were sitting, chatting, all was pleasant.

Than, couple other older guys from another table came over, apparently to talk to grandpa, it seems they were pals, sort of, anyhow.

But, I could not help observing that he looked a bit uncomfortable, talking to them.

Some time later, the kids, including our nearly 6 year old who came also with us, ran off to play with other children at the party; their parents went out to the dance floor to boogie, and my wife also went with them (and I myself was, thankfully, spared from humiliating myself out there with the excuse of a recent ankle injury lmao).

It was just me and grandpa left at the table.

Finally, since we were just sitting there, in silence, I asked him,

"So, those two guys who came up earlier, friends of yours?"

"Oh... Da... I guess so..."

Some more silence, than he goes on

"Well, you know, I have to socialise with SOMEONE here..."

"Ok..."

Shaking his head

"Back home, I doubt me and those ones would have ever known each other..."

You see, "back home" (in Novosibirsk, to be exact), he was a somewhat important man. A scientist, actually, a professor at a major lab there (Novisibirsk is actually perhaps the biggest science centre in Russia, you know, they have a whole Academic City/AkademGorodok...)

While those ones, one is from Vladivostok originally, he was a sailor over there, and later, after moving to Canada many years ago, also worked on ferries and such here; while the other one was a policeman in Moscow, and now, here in Toronto, drives a bus for a tour firm here that caters to Russian speakers (and his wife is the tour guide on the bus; I know them too, when my sister and I hosted some elder relatives from Russia here in Canada; they mainly came to see my first son, after he was born, in 2014, back in Vancouver lol We also sent them on a nice tour with these guys haha They wanted to see Niagara Falls; didn't really understand that Canada is a huge country too, just like Russia... But, we made it happen regardless...)

Point is, these guys are below his self perceived social station, so to speak, and it chafes on him to now have to be friends with them, because he sees them as beneath him.

Russia is still very much a caste society... They got rid of the monarchy and the aristocracy after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, sure.

But, since then, in Soviet Union, and even more so today, a whole new social hierarchy rose over there instead.

Many highly insular groups and castes there now.

Kids of military officers generally marry kids of other military officers. Same among the police. And the FSB.

Kids of professors are expected, generally, to marry children of other academics.

And so on.

And even outside professionals, there are REGIONAL divisions too. People from Moscow see themselves as superior to everyone else in the country, better educated, etc. While those in the ever high-cultured old imperial capital St. Petersburg roll their eyes at that shit haha

Here, in diaspora, all these divisions are essentially left behind, and all these folks must mix and socialise with each other. And, yeah, it does grind their gears, in many cases.

You see it here too, frankly.

I have literally observed two older ladies at this one party I was at; they were in their 60s; and they were arguing loudly, basically about whose bloodline is superior. One came from a family of Red Army generals. The other - from renowned university professors and music composers. Each thought the other was below her in status haha

"I will have you know, my ancestors were a part of half of Soviet Union's greatest medical breakthroughs! And my grandfather wrote the theme song for [famous Soviet TV comedy]!"
"So what?! While your people were fooling around in their labs and making up silly tunes, mine were leading the defence of the Motherland!"

I've heard lots of such conversations...

It's all crazy, to me, this obsession with social status.

But then, I spent half my formative years, since I was 16, here in Canada... Maybe I genuinely cannot relate, anymore...
 
Jan 2014
19,627
5,889
California
Just thinking about an interesting phenomenon I have observed within our own Russian speaking diaspora, right here in Toronto.

We went to a party on New Year night with many fellow ex-Soviets. It's a great community, even my wife now feels welcome among them, not speaking the language or anything, she's made some friends among the ladies there lol

But, anyhow, I have noticed, especially among older people, and generally those more recently arrived, certain discomforts when it comes to these events on the holidays and hanging out with other people.

I kinda didn't really get it, for awhile. Than, this last New Year Party, we were at a table with a big family, parents, three kids, and a grandfather.

We were sitting, chatting, all was pleasant.

Than, couple other older guys from another table came over, apparently to talk to grandpa, it seems they were pals, sort of, anyhow.

But, I could not help observing that he looked a bit uncomfortable, talking to them.

Some time later, the kids, including our nearly 6 year old who came also with us, ran off to play with other children at the party; their parents went out to the dance floor to boogie, and my wife also went with them (and I myself was, thankfully, spared from humiliating myself out there with the excuse of a recent ankle injury lmao).

It was just me and grandpa left at the table.

Finally, since we were just sitting there, in silence, I asked him,

"So, those two guys who came up earlier, friends of yours?"

"Oh... Da... I guess so..."

Some more silence, than he goes on

"Well, you know, I have to socialise with SOMEONE here..."

"Ok..."

Shaking his head

"Back home, I doubt me and those ones would have ever known each other..."

You see, "back home" (in Novosibirsk, to be exact), he was a somewhat important man. A scientist, actually, a professor at a major lab there (Novisibirsk is actually perhaps the biggest science centre in Russia, you know, they have a whole Academic City/AkademGorodok...)

While those ones, one is from Vladivostok originally, he was a sailor over there, and later, after moving to Canada many years ago, also worked on ferries and such here; while the other one was a policeman in Moscow, and now, here in Toronto, drives a bus for a tour firm here that caters to Russian speakers (and his wife is the tour guide on the bus; I know them too, when my sister and I hosted some elder relatives from Russia here in Canada; they mainly came to see my first son, after he was born, in 2014, back in Vancouver lol We also sent them on a nice tour with these guys haha They wanted to see Niagara Falls; didn't really understand that Canada is a huge country too, just like Russia... But, we made it happen regardless...)

Point is, these guys are below his self perceived social station, so to speak, and it chafes on him to now have to be friends with them, because he sees them as beneath him.

Russia is still very much a caste society... They got rid of the monarchy and the aristocracy after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, sure.

But, since then, in Soviet Union, and even more so today, a whole new social hierarchy rose over there instead.

Many highly insular groups and castes there now.

Kids of military officers generally marry kids of other military officers. Same among the police. And the FSB.

Kids of professors are expected, generally, to marry children of other academics.

And so on.

And even outside professionals, there are REGIONAL divisions too. People from Moscow see themselves as superior to everyone else in the country, better educated, etc. While those in the ever high-cultured old imperial capital St. Petersburg roll their eyes at that shit haha

Here, in diaspora, all these divisions are essentially left behind, and all these folks must mix and socialise with each other. And, yeah, it does grind their gears, in many cases.

You see it here too, frankly.

I have literally observed two older ladies at this one party I was at; they were in their 60s; and they were arguing loudly, basically about whose bloodline is superior. One came from a family of Red Army generals. The other - from renowned university professors and music composers. Each thought the other was below her in status haha

"I will have you know, my ancestors were a part of half of Soviet Union's greatest medical breakthroughs! And my grandfather wrote the theme song for [famous Soviet TV comedy]!"
"So what?! While your people were fooling around in their labs and making up silly tunes, mine were leading the defence of the Motherland!"

I've heard lots of such conversations...

It's all crazy, to me, this obsession with social status.

But then, I spent half my formative years, since I was 16, here in Canada... Maybe I genuinely cannot relate, anymore...
Mr. Man,

 
  • Haha
Reactions: The Man

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
50,167
38,210
Toronto
lol

Yeah, I laugh, but it's sad, really...

So many educated people have left that country, and continue to, not only old ones, who've had their careers and lived their lives; but young people too, who have it all still ahead of them, and see no good future for themselves back there, and I understand them completely... :(
 
Jan 2014
19,627
5,889
California
lol

Yeah, I laugh, but it's sad, really...

So many educated people have left that country, and continue to, not only old ones, who've had their careers and lived their lives; but young people too, who have it all still ahead of them, and see no good future for themselves back there, and I understand them completely... :(
Mr. Man,

I have a friend who works with lasers for White Sands Missile range. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he travels to Russia for technology exchange. One of the things he observed was that computer technology was basic there, and as such, the Russian scientist were pure physicist because they couldn't rely on computer processing for short cuts. He also noted that those scientist were at the top of their fields, and as rewards, were given 5 year old cars, and were able to live in larger apartments. Top scientist here were earning 6 figure salaries (in the 1990s).
 
  • Like
Reactions: The Man

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
50,167
38,210
Toronto
Mr. Man,

I have a friend who works with lasers for White Sands Missile range. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he travels to Russia for technology exchange. One of the things he observed was that computer technology was basic there, and as such, the Russian scientist were pure physicist because they couldn't rely on computer processing for short cuts. He also noted that those scientist were at the top of their fields, and as rewards, were given 5 year old cars, and were able to live in larger apartments. Top scientist here were earning 6 figure salaries (in the 1990s).
If you mean six figures in rubles, that's nothing, since rubles were worthless in the 90s...

I recall this movie, from 1997:
The young guy had started working as a hitman for the mafia, after returning from the military; he needs a weapon for a job; so he comes to this old man, looking to buy his shotgun. Old guy asks for a million rubles. He gives the old guy a handful of US dollar bills, says, that's worth 1.2 million. That's how it was then, rubles were just worthless paper...
 
Jan 2014
19,627
5,889
California
If you mean six figures in rubles, that's nothing, since rubles were worthless in the 90s...

I recall this movie, from 1997:
The young guy had started working as a hitman for the mafia, after returning from the military; he needs a weapon for a job; so he comes to this old man, looking to buy his shotgun. Old guy asks for a million rubles. He gives the old guy a handful of US dollar bills, says, that's worth 1.2 million. That's how it was then, rubles were just worthless paper...
Mr. Man,

No, I mean, to US scientist were earning well over $100,000, top level scientist in Russia earned enough to buy a 5 year old car and live in a slightly larger walk up apartment.
 
  • Like
Reactions: The Man

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
50,167
38,210
Toronto
Mr. Man,

No, I mean, to US scientist were earning well over $100,000, top level scientist in Russia earned enough to buy a 5 year old car and live in a slightly larger walk up apartment.
Ah, ok, now I get it lol

I mistook the word "here" for "there"...
 
Jul 2019
594
266
Heartland
Just thinking about an interesting phenomenon I have observed within our own Russian speaking diaspora, right here in Toronto.

We went to a party on New Year night with many fellow ex-Soviets. It's a great community, even my wife now feels welcome among them, not speaking the language or anything, she's made some friends among the ladies there lol

But, anyhow, I have noticed, especially among older people, and generally those more recently arrived, certain discomforts when it comes to these events on the holidays and hanging out with other people.

I kinda didn't really get it, for awhile. Than, this last New Year Party, we were at a table with a big family, parents, three kids, and a grandfather.

We were sitting, chatting, all was pleasant.

Than, couple other older guys from another table came over, apparently to talk to grandpa, it seems they were pals, sort of, anyhow.

But, I could not help observing that he looked a bit uncomfortable, talking to them.

Some time later, the kids, including our nearly 6 year old who came also with us, ran off to play with other children at the party; their parents went out to the dance floor to boogie, and my wife also went with them (and I myself was, thankfully, spared from humiliating myself out there with the excuse of a recent ankle injury lmao).

It was just me and grandpa left at the table.

Finally, since we were just sitting there, in silence, I asked him,

"So, those two guys who came up earlier, friends of yours?"

"Oh... Da... I guess so..."

Some more silence, than he goes on

"Well, you know, I have to socialise with SOMEONE here..."

"Ok..."

Shaking his head

"Back home, I doubt me and those ones would have ever known each other..."

You see, "back home" (in Novosibirsk, to be exact), he was a somewhat important man. A scientist, actually, a professor at a major lab there (Novisibirsk is actually perhaps the biggest science centre in Russia, you know, they have a whole Academic City/AkademGorodok...)

While those ones, one is from Vladivostok originally, he was a sailor over there, and later, after moving to Canada many years ago, also worked on ferries and such here; while the other one was a policeman in Moscow, and now, here in Toronto, drives a bus for a tour firm here that caters to Russian speakers (and his wife is the tour guide on the bus; I know them too, when my sister and I hosted some elder relatives from Russia here in Canada; they mainly came to see my first son, after he was born, in 2014, back in Vancouver lol We also sent them on a nice tour with these guys haha They wanted to see Niagara Falls; didn't really understand that Canada is a huge country too, just like Russia... But, we made it happen regardless...)

Point is, these guys are below his self perceived social station, so to speak, and it chafes on him to now have to be friends with them, because he sees them as beneath him.

Russia is still very much a caste society... They got rid of the monarchy and the aristocracy after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, sure.

But, since then, in Soviet Union, and even more so today, a whole new social hierarchy rose over there instead.

Many highly insular groups and castes there now.

Kids of military officers generally marry kids of other military officers. Same among the police. And the FSB.

Kids of professors are expected, generally, to marry children of other academics.

And so on.

And even outside professionals, there are REGIONAL divisions too. People from Moscow see themselves as superior to everyone else in the country, better educated, etc. While those in the ever high-cultured old imperial capital St. Petersburg roll their eyes at that shit haha

Here, in diaspora, all these divisions are essentially left behind, and all these folks must mix and socialise with each other. And, yeah, it does grind their gears, in many cases.

You see it here too, frankly.

I have literally observed two older ladies at this one party I was at; they were in their 60s; and they were arguing loudly, basically about whose bloodline is superior. One came from a family of Red Army generals. The other - from renowned university professors and music composers. Each thought the other was below her in status haha

"I will have you know, my ancestors were a part of half of Soviet Union's greatest medical breakthroughs! And my grandfather wrote the theme song for [famous Soviet TV comedy]!"
"So what?! While your people were fooling around in their labs and making up silly tunes, mine were leading the defence of the Motherland!"

I've heard lots of such conversations...

It's all crazy, to me, this obsession with social status.

But then, I spent half my formative years, since I was 16, here in Canada... Maybe I genuinely cannot relate, anymore...
While the class division may affect the grandpa's social relationships his age may also play a major part.

In America, the average adult hasn't made a new friend within the past five years =
The Average American Hasn't Made A New Friend In 5 Years. Here's Why

Americans are becoming more socially isolated. Maybe other socities are too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: The Man

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
50,167
38,210
Toronto
While the class division may affect the grandpa's social relationships his age may also play a major part.

In America, the average adult hasn't made a new friend within the past five years =
The Average American Hasn't Made A New Friend In 5 Years. Here's Why

Americans are becoming more socially isolated. Maybe other socities are too.
That's definitely true.

It's one of the reasons, I think, back there, in Moscow, for example, they now have programs for seniors, like "Silver University", where not only are they taught new skills and how to use modern technology (for free, paid by the city)

but also they get to meet others of their generation and make new social connections

I think it's awesome, honestly, one of few decent ideas to come out of government officials over there (among many shitty ones lol)
 
Jul 2019
594
266
Heartland
Sometime
That's definitely true.

It's one of the reasons, I think, back there, in Moscow, for example, they now have programs for seniors, like "Silver University", where not only are they taught new skills and how to use modern technology (for free, paid by the city)

but also they get to meet others of their generation and make new social connections

I think it's awesome, honestly, one of few decent ideas to come out of government officials over there (among many shitty ones lol)
Sometimes it is hard to remember that people have different ideas about the same issues and that they are more comfortable with their ideas than they are with ours. People have different values so we should allow them to handle their own problems in their own ways. After all, if we were so perfect we wouldn't have any problems of our own, would we?