Turkey and Russia are a like a couple, fighting and making peace time and again. An example of such scenario is the recent 10 month crisis following the shooting down of a russian jet by Turkey which later on they reconciled. Being neighbours, these countries have developed many common traits although plenty of differences still remain. Taken in another context, it can be said to be attracting.
I am one of the many Russians living in Istanbul and this article is generated from some of my personal experiences. I have elaborated 7 facts about Turkey and Russia that reveal the differences between these communities.
- People in Turkey are nice
Gloomy faces of Russians have become a byword. Russians in the streets look tense and suspicious as though expecting to collide with an enemy, the presumption is it could be you. All this however changes when they come into contact with someone they know since a familiar person cannot be an enemy. Russians will only smile to a person they are familiar with or they like. A person's attitude is clear right from the beginning, which is an advantage of the russian ambience of sincere gloom.
The Turks on the other hand are much nicer, always looking relaxed and friendly. When a person smiles to you, be sure it is sincere. In Turkey, especially in Istanbul, it is very impolite to behave otherwise. The problem with this however is that one is not genuinely smiling because he/she likes you. The reason behind could actually be very far from this, and most probably you may even never know why. The confusion comes when you are Russian although the Turks are never confused at all. They do not know what other people really think of them and they don't care because people will always be polite, so why bother.
- Women's status in society
Turkey and Russia have a lot in common when it comes to women's status in society, as both societies have witnessed a high rate of domestic violence. Men are considered to be the rulers while the women are left behind to suffer the results of this gender discrimination. The governments' policies are vigilant when it comes to family values. In 2007, the Russian government spearheaded a special program to facilitate families with two or more children. Turkey unlike its Russian counterparts does not pay but recently, the Turkish President stated that having three children is a duty of every Muslim. Actually, this is where the similarity ends.
Russia remains a patriarchal society while Turkey is a hidden matriarchate. Women therefore meet different attitudes to which they choose different types of behaviour as a response.
- Women at Work
Many Turkish woman are housewives with enormous duties at home making it hard for them to work. Occasionally, they do not find the need to work since their needs will be met by the husband. At times their not working is owed to the husband's failure to consent, something that is quite normal in this society. Despite the fact that Turkish women are silent while in public, everybody knows who the boss at home is.
On the other hand, Russian women are born with the genetic impression of working. They believe that they have to work because their mothers worked, their grandmothers also worked hence forth they do not want to break the chain. They do not believe in delegating their work to men since men are considered to be untrustworthy. This is not really a stereotype but a life experience.
- Attitude towards women
Women in Turkey are treated with respect as every woman is considered a potential mother which is very valuable. It is hard to state facts proving this but from the general attitude during the everyday experiences, one can understand. An example can be in a stranger giving up his seat for a woman with kids on a metro. Where there is an empty seat in public transport, standing men will usually offer this seat to a female before taking it. In cases of rape, the police is generally willing to protect the victim where the incidence is reported. The abuser can be seriously injured or even killed in prison due to such acts.
Russian men are always proudly lamenting how beautiful the Russian women are, but when it comes to occupying that empty seat on public transport, the men will gladly occupy it. Reason being, they are both equal before the law hence no need for the exception. In case a woman reports a sexual crime against her, most people are quick to blame or even humiliate her with the police being first in line.
- Attitude towards children
The Turks are crazy when it comes to children. Once I was standing in line at the airport patiently waiting for my turn to cross the Turkish border. A woman with a baby was going through the checks before me. The lady police office was very nice and charming towards her, making small talk with her and the baby. This was really nice to watch but when my turn came, I smiled warmly to the officer who gave me back an icy look.
You can imagine, if a strict officer could melt on seeing a child, what would be the reaction from other people. If you are a baby or child in Turkey, you will get as much attention as possible and people will always adore you. It is no wonder that kids in Turkey are often very spoiled.
Russian women who became mothers while living in Turkey are going crazy over this attitude as it is an opposite reaction in the Russian culture. The attitude towards children is not friendly at all as people get annoyed or angry towards children in Russia. Sometimes they simply choose to ignore the shouting “little monsters”. A lot of women complain about strangers giving them advice on how to raise their children, while others believe it is totally normal to interfere in another's relations on matters like teaching young women how to behave. No one is happy in such a situation but you don't have to forget, Russians are gloomy. There are enemies everywhere, be prepared to meet and enemy since you are a child.
- Crowds and Public Transport
Crowds are an inseparable part of big cities especially during the rush hours. This is never fun in Turkey. In Istanbul, people will do their best not to touch or hit you by accident in a crowd. In Russia, people are less careful and more aggressive especially in the smaller cities. Often times I got my feet hurt while using public transport, sometimes my shoes were desperately dirty following incidences of being stepped on. On my lucky days, I would also get pushed. These adventures give Russians a feeling of unity. Russian people usually do not know their neighbours so they make up for this lack of social connection in the busses.
- Government service
The government services in Turkey are faster and punishments are severe. Where one does not abide by the rules, you are most likely to get punished for the crime. Where as in Russia, when one commits an offence, you can either be punished as per the law or reach an agreement and evade the punishment. As a result of this, nobody really cares about the rules but about finding the right people. With the right people around, laws do not work. Of course Turkey is not corruption free, but it is not as rampant as in Russia.
Psychologist, copywriter and a fan of zenart. Had a fresh start here, in Istanbul. Now I want people to know more about this fascinating city. There are so many stories to tell… :)