Hilarious stereotypes about Russians invented by themselves

We are all at the mercy of our own stereotypes. When it comes to Russia and stereotypes that exist in the minds of foreigners, everyone immediately recalls the mysterious "Russian soul." But the concept is too metaphysical, and Russian soulfulness cannot be pigeon-holed, even by Russians themselves most of the time. On the other hand, there are very many domestic stereotypes, which form the basis of all sorts of jokes, caricatures, etc.
A perennial favorite of Russian anecdotes is the Russian granny or babushka. She shows herself in many different lights, is humble and always ready to help relatives, and spends a lot of time filling the bellies of her grandchildren. But sometimes Russian babushkas display a surprising level of wit and cunning.
Russians are fond of quoting the poet Nekrasov: "A Russian woman will stop a galloping horse and go into a burning hut." And indeed Russian jokes very often feature women of grit and action, who support the family and hold the domestic purse strings. Their male counterparts in jokes and cartoons are very often helpless and idle. The comic effect comes from the contrast between the overbearing (and often physically large) dame and her sluggish (and frail) husband.
Returning to babushkas, the one closest to Russian hearts and minds is Baba-Yaga, the (anti-)heroine of childhood fairy tales. Baba Yaga would not describe herself as a witch, although she lives in a log cabin at the edge of a forest, and occasionally eats naughty children...
But it would be a mistake to think of Baba-Yaga as the embodiment of pure evil. At times she is good-humored and placid, even willing to give valuable advice to the younger generation. In fairy tales, it is very often she who helps the protagonist resolve the conflict.
But that's in fairy tales, whereas in reality Russians try to avoid conflict. And the easiest way to avoid conflict is not to communicate at all. Therefore, almost all foreigners in Moscow for the first time notice that Russians (Muscovites, in any case) are not prone to smile. What is there to smile about? Rushing to and from, weighed down by problems, they don't have a moment's peace!
Russians can seem particularly unwelcoming in the cold, dark days of winter, when everyone tries to get from home to work even more quickly than usual. It is commonly believed, regrettably, that Russians are not very communicative (at least when meeting for the first time), and do not, in general, try to engage total strangers in debate or exchange flirtatious glances on public transport, for example.
Transport in itself is a separate topic of Russian anecdotes. It is always overcrowded, and rush-hour commuters are lucky simply to make it on board, squashed in like sardines. At other times of the day, there is an ongoing struggle for seats. Public signs proclaim that such-and-such seats are reserved for people with disabilities, senior citizens, and women with children, but in fact they are the least likely contenders to get a perch — more often than not, the benches are occupied by sleeping men and sprawling teenagers.
Transport segues into another ubiquitous subject of Russian jokes — bad roads and crooked cops. Two of the most fertile topics! Everyone likes to crack jokes about the police, especially their crafty flair for fining drivers. The traffic cop's whistle and black-and-white striped baton truly are his orb and scepter. Sometimes they hide in the bushes along the highway, or even disguise themselves as old ladies to give unsuspecting motorists the fright of their lives.
"Hey! That's cute!" exclaims the child in this picture, eyeing a grim industrial region through the window of a stuffy suburban train. Collected here are some highly colorful characters: intelligent ladies of advancing years; a research institute employee with a battered briefcase; a doleful grandfather; an ageing blockhead with a can of beer... Generally speaking, Russians are quite self-critical and not afraid to mock themselves. But others cannot forgive such irony. However, the hard feelings will only last until the next knees-up, where you will be forgiven, kissed to death, and treated to something nice...

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