Sunday, 26 September 2010
I have been usefully corrected by both by V and a previous post comment about blat. As they both explain, it is about having useful connections, not the exchange of favours per se. You probably all knew that and were just too polite to tell me.
So V and I talked about what it is that is going on here. His suggestion is that I am probably witnessing old-style Soviet community support, which he says doesn't happen much any more. Which I find really funny as I happen to live in just such a 'community' in London (also not common); and because yesterday I was properly inculcated into the exchange of favours for the first time. Neighbour E was again called on, this time to help in the removal of two cupboards. Then it turned out that he collects foreign coins, so I offered him my English small change and he picked out his favourites. And in exchange I got 3 new light-bulbs. Which considering he hoovered up almost all my pound coins, worked well for him.
But maybe it means I am now becoming part of the collective, and can borrow cups of sugar and make small talk, which will be fun. (I also found out that the flat only became vacant this summer when the father of the landlady died - aged 89, but unexpected and clearly because of the heat and summer smog. In London, I had thought about the effects on old people of the extreme weather conditions in Moscow, but had not expected to find myself an unintended beneficiary.)