Magazine article Russian Life

A Real Prokhorovshchina

Magazine article Russian Life

A Real Prokhorovshchina

Article excerpt

Whenever I travel abroad, I try not to run into fellow Russians. This is simply because their khamsky (rude, boorish) behavior tends to make me blush with shame.

In airplanes, they drink themselves to oblivion, yell at stewards, ignore rules about the use of mobile phones, get up out of their seats to grab their carry-on luggage before the plane has pulled into the gate, try to skip check-in lines, etc.

It is much the same picture at foreign health resorts. To wit: this past November I vacationed at such a resort in Egypt and, as we say, "I was ready to fall through the Earth from shame." Some of my khamsky compatriots, you see, were abusing of the resort's all-inclusive regime. One such khamsky Russky (who could have used a breath mint) would line up at the bar as early as 9:40 am (it opened at 10 am). Then, without so much as a "hello" or a "please," order 10 (free) beers from the Egyptian bartender. One day, fed up with such boorishness a la russe the bartender put 10 beers on a tray and, with a sardonic smile, handed it to the tourist while uttering, "Welcome to Egypt."

Then there was the embarrassing fight over beach mattresses. A German septuagenarian was carrying off two mattresses, when a Russian lady came up to her, grabbed one of the mattresses, declaring "Why would you need two mattresses? Give me one!"

The German pensioner asked me to intervene, to explain that she had paid cash for "zwei matrazen," but the Russian had determined that the mattresses must be part of the "all included," so she had a right to at least one.

The fierce battle over the mattress soon reminded me of the World War II tank battle near Prokhorovka in 1943. And, like the battle at Prokhorovka, this one was won by the Russians. The German gave up eine matraze. Proud of the 60-year-old tank victory, I was deeply ashamed of my compatriot's mattress trophy.

Soon after I returned from Egypt, we heard about the vicissitudes of another Russian tourist abroad. Mikhail Prokhorov, whose family name is a disgrace to the village of Prokhorovka, was arrested by French police in a crackdown on a suspected prostitution ring at a swank Alpine ski resort - Courchevel. Prokhorov is the 41-year-old chief executive of Norilsk Nickel (see story, page 50), and is ranked No. 89 on Forbes magazine's 2006 list of the world's richest people. Inquisitive minds can get more detailed information on the Internet, but here is my version of the events. …

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