(The disconnected line of thoughts after 20 years in the country)
And until you understand:
Death for new Life counts,
You will be the grumpy guest,
On the hostile grounds.
We have two family holidays: March 22 and May 31. On March 22, 1989 we flew from Russia to Austria. On May 31, 1989 we flew from the Leonardo Da Vinchi Airport in Rome to New York. The movie they ran on the flight was Coming to America and I had to explain to my fellow- immigrants the difference between the Big Mac and Big Mic (Yes, I knew that!). At the same time I did not know who Edie Murphy or Arsenio Hall were. BTW, what happened to old Arsenio? Haven’t heard of him lately.
Every first- generation immigrant faces two powerful temptations: to write about thyself and to criticize. Those two trends are connected and come from the ‘chez nous’ syndrome, which means ‘where we are from’. This syndrome is very colorfully described in the novel ‘The Exile’ by Lyon Feichtwanger. That is where we are from (Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Hungary, etc.) women are prettier, culture is more colorful, men are more manly, food is better, children are more adorable and dogs are dogs, not some cherished species with special food and doctors. I am not sure about Asian Americans but my recent encounters with the Hindu folks reveal the ‘chez nous’ syndrome in all its glory. Remember that former colonel of the Iranian army in the House of Sand and Fog?
It is good that my fellow- Americans do not read the ethnic Russian- Jewish newspapers. Otherwise they would drown themselves in the ‘chez nous’. Narcissism flourishes in all kinds of reminiscences where every Rabinovich currently residing on the Brighton Beach is an A- bomb scientist and if it were not for Lieberman or Cogan Russia would have never defeated Hitler. Ok, Monty and Ike helped, but that’s it. And of course, Russia is doomed after all those Cogans, Rabinoviches and Epsteins had left her for good. Nothing good can happen in the country without those people. Everything good which happened before was their achievement and only theirs, history be damned. And, of course, they all are suddenly very Jeeeeeewish. All those former committed atheists, militant young pioneers, skeptics and agnostics- all of them quote Torah like crazy and find their ancient Jewish ancestors as if they all are related to those famous gees that once saved Rome from the invasion. I would dare to say that if they could they would perform a mass self- circumcision in public and send the pieces of skin to Israel to show their unequivocal support. All of that, of course is presented in a very bad Russian language which is rather sad on its own. I have to cut those people some slack though. They follow the examples. Fairly recently the total imbecile was our President for 8 years and his cronies were all vampires. In Russia the executive tandem Putin- Medvedev is called by the Russians ‘Our two-headed leadership.’ In Israel a former bouncer and petty gangster is going to become a Foreign Minister. You can quote Brodsky from his Letters To The Roman Friend:
Postum, do you remember the governor’s sister?