One word: Babushki. The translation “grandmother” doesn’t really cover this. She is so much more than that. Babushka is a formidable figure, and one not usually to be argued with. Plus, they make soup.
Anyway, I digress.
Years ago, I had a Russian wife And with that wife, which I hadn’t really considered before, came a “Tioschya”, a mother in law… oh yes.
Naturally, she was the Babushka to my little girls. Imagine my surprise, one balmy English morning, say nine degrees, when I found Babushka wrapping the girls up in wool. Coats goves, scarves, hats, wraps, hand warmers, leg warmers, socks, more socks, hoods, more scarves, more gloves, more and more and more.
The girls had lost their shape; they were now round, perfectly spherical. They were also enormous! I mean seriously larger than they had been five minutes previously. I had to stop this before the entrance to the house was blocked. I grabbed a random piece of wool and I tugged on it. The child began to spin, and a layer was successfully thrown to the floor. I grabbed another piece of wool, and a second from the other child. Two spinning children, wool falling to the floor, and worst of all, an indignant Babushka, telling me in a high pitched scream that my children would freeze to death, how could I be so irresponsible and so on. And on. And on.
Finally the girls were reduced to tshirts and leggings, and we made our escape through the back door to the park, where they ran and jumped and skipped, overjoyed at their new found freedom. I’m sure one of them squeaked “I have legs! Yippee!!!”
What chance do Russians have, against the Babushka? I mean, they are taught to feel the cold from infancy. Walk through Moscow in the winter and all you see are little spherical balls of wool, being led along by well-meaning parents. It’s insane!
Recently I was on a flight to Moscow. The passenger beside me actually tried to annexe my overhead air vent (which was blowing lovely, cooling air onto my head – note my head, not his). I managed to stop this intrusion into my body temperature and I compromised by pointing the vent even further from him, by which point it was missing even me, compleftely.
So I say, enough is enough. When somebody says “slushai, tut kholodno”, just say no. It’s not. It’s actually quite zharko….