When I have been to Italy last time, I talked with a Russian emigrant.

          Her name is Irina. She moved to Italy from Moscow about 10 years ago. She married an Italian, but then divorced. She lives with her son. And she has excellent friendly relations with the ex-husband.

         – Tell me, Irina, about your first impressions of the European life.

         – You know, I would call my first year euphoria. I felt like I have got on another planet. After a dirty, drunk, boorish Russia, Italy seems like a paradise. Polite people, smiles on their faces, clean streets. In general, I had a cultural shock.

         – And what then?

         – And then you start to get used to this life. Cleanliness and order, courtesy and affability do not seem to be anything unusual. And after a while you start to notice negative aspects, which are not visible at first sight. There is also a corruption in Italy (though not in the same size as in Russia), and there is enough mess in the state bodies. In general, the second stage of my emigrant life can be called sobering up and disappointment.

        – What was your biggest disappointment?

        – You will be surprised. Indifference and soullessness of Italians.

        – How is that?

        – You see, behind all this external cordiality and goodwill there is a hidden indifference deep inside them. Everyone will give his life for himself and his family, but for others … Yes, they can make noise in the newspapers and on television. But to give their last shirt for the strangers who are in trouble – definitely not. Their family is more important for them.

        – And what does spirituality mean?

        – Well, probably, it is better to say, not soullessness but shallowness. Do you understand … How do you explain? .. Tell me, do you have friends?

        – Yes. Of course.

        – How often do you meet?

        – Well, once a week, on the weekends.

        – And what do you talk about?

        – Well, about everything in the world. About children, politics, morality, religion, even about the origin of man … and about the meaning of life, after all.

        – Marat! You have no idea how much I envy you! You are a happy person, if you have friends with whom you can talk on such topics. Do you know what the Italians talk about? Italian men talk about food in the first place. They can spend hours discussing the flavors of fettuccine in a nearby restaurant and distinguishing between a 10-year-old wine and 12-year-old wine. In the second place they talk about football and women. They can talk about this for hours. Women have only two themes for conversation: children and food. They spend hours discussing the sores of their children, their achievements in schools, and what they prepared for a dinner yesterday. Maybe that’s why I do not have real close friends here. I do not have anything to talk to them about.

       You won’t believe, I read the “Brothers Karamazovs” recently. I discovered Dostoevsky in a new way. I wanted to discuss it with someone. And do you think my Italian friends read Dostoevsky? I’m afraid they do not even know who that is. I called to Moscow, to my old friend-classmate at Moscow State University, and we discussed the Karamazovs with great energy.

       That’s what I call depth, soulfulness. This is all that Soviet people have. And what is not present in modern Italians, and probably, in all Europeans. Each of them is an excellent specialist in his field. They are excellent bankers, wonderful chefs, and high-class engineers. But in the evening over a beer they discuss not the meaning of life, but football and pizza.

      – Look, we’re in Milan. There are so many “white collars” around. Are all these people limited, as you say? Are they not ambitious, do not expand their horizons and grow? None of them are dreaming of becoming a billionaire or president? In Kazakhstan, for example, this is the case.

      – Do you know where their ambitions go? Maximum to the head of the department with a stable high salary. A high stable salary is the limit of their dreams. After all, then they can live calmly and in the evening discuss football with friends. Here, they can live a whole life working as an ordinary waiter from youth to retirement. And not to strive for anything more. What for? The main thing is a steady paycheck. And that’s all.

     – I do not believe you, Irina. Italy cannot be all that way.

     – Of course, not all of the Italy. But I’ve been living here for ten years. I moved from town to town. I have a lot of Italian acquaintances. And I can do some generalizations.

     – Irina, you know, I’m just thinking. Do you think that many people have read Dostoevsky in the former Soviet Union?

     – He was in our school program.

     – And do you think that we have a lot of men who discuss the meaning of life with their friends in the evening over the beer?

     – All of them! After the second shot glass every our man discusses the meaning of life, politics and the origin of the universe.

     – Well, I do not know … If you like our men so much, you probably want to return to Russia?

   – Are you crazy?! Never! On the contrary, this year I finally persuaded my parents to move here.

   – Why?

   – Marat, for all the shortcomings I’ve described to you, I will not exchange the boring, measured European life for life in our dirty, drunken, criminal  “dustpan “. All this does not outweigh the comfort and tranquility that I have here.

   – Well, you know, I do not understand you. Why then did you complain to me for a whole hour about life here in Europe?

   – I did not complain. I just told you the features and differences between them and us. This is not good or bad. It’s just there. I just wanted you to know. Draw the conclusions yourself.

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