Mystery is created and maintained by a lack of exposure and understanding. For instance, while our parents may never have had a chance to visit Russia, and perhaps only had the chance to meet a handful of Russian emigres, we don't take the opportunity to travel to Russia (though we may have the money to do so).
Many of us get an extensive background on the history of Russia while switching from one classroom to another throughout our education. We couldn't picture what living in Russia this very moment entails. We couldn't even picture what the Russians are eating for dinner.
We've seen photos of Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral, but otherwise have very little of an idea of what the rest of Moscow looks like, or even St. Petersburg, or even the rest of the country down to the remotest of villages. We like to think that Russia is a very cold place where you will always be in need of a warm fuzzy Russian hat and a fur coat.
Most importantly, the typical Russian is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Though classics of Russian literature have given us insight into the Russian soul, are Dostoyevsky's analytics ingrained in the Russian mind and Pushkin's feeling in the Russian heart? And while a Russian may never smile, does that mean he does not welcome us with open arms?
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.