When we were in St. Petersburg, we noticed that the people in the street seemed generally depressed. When we talked about this, Larry commented that there was not a lot of opportunity in Russia, “You don’t see people lining up at the borders trying to get in,” was how he put it.
Today, Larry read an article in the paper that posited that acting happy influences people to feel happier. “Maybe we should tell that to the Russians,” he suggested.
When I saw signs for Burger King, Subway, KFC, McDonald’s in Russia I thought about how we export the worst of our culture–it contaminates everything. But when I was in St. Petersburg, I read an article by Mitya Kushelevich in the St. Petersburg Times, reprinted from The Calvert Journal. It gave me a different perspective. He was writing about the government’s closure of McDonald’s, allegedly for sanitation reasons, but curiously synchronous with the West’s recent imposition of sanctions. This first McDonald’s in Russia is in a prime Moscow location. I’ll quote from the article at length:
“Everything about this particular branch of the American fast-food giant was iconic for a person born in Soviet Russia. Just as St. Petersburg was once considered our ‘window to Europe,’ this restaurant was our ‘window to the world.’ Continue reading “A taste of freedom”