I was attracted by the tagline: “Russian Women Prove it’s Hip to be a Babushka”. Well YEA it’s hip–what could be more “in” right now than embracing your body, growing your own vegetables, and tasteful pattern-clashing?
This article from NPR(http://www.npr.org/2011/06/27/137368820/russian-women-prove-its-hip-to-be-a-babushka) pokes fun of the sacred art of aging in Russia, which (for women) is characterized by gaining 70 lbs, perfecting the 12 most useful applications of butter, and of course forming a Beatles cover band with your homies. For men it’s characterized by alcoholism and death, but that’s an issue for a later date.
Back to the homies. This group of a dozen or so from the city of Buranova, 600 miles east of Moscow (Russia’s big), have started their own rock band, translating American pop songs into their native Udmurt (like Finnish) and even composing their own songs. The article describes the culture of lonely old women in Russia, and how they spend the last 20-30 years of their lives suffering in melancholy without a husband. I wasn’t kidding about the alcoholism or the death–it’s a serious issue in Russia, and these women have to cope with it somehow.
This heartwarming story is one of many in the new NPR series “The Hidden World of Girls: Girls and the Women they Become” (http://www.npr.org/series/125026905/hidden-world-of-girls). The radio series tells “of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secret identities—of women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, changed the tide” (http://www.kitchensisters.org/girlstories/). The titles range from “The Termite Queen and her Ultimate Sacrifice” to “Why Do Girls Love Horses, Unicorns, and Dolphins?” to “The Painful Price of Sex: Stories of Women Sold into Sex Slavery”.
For those of you sitting in a cubicle all day (or part of the day if you’re lucky), radio offers a great entertainment alternative after you have exceeded your maximum listening limit on Pandora. I grew up listening to Robert Siegel on All Things Considered on the way home from school with my pops, and ever since then I get a certain special tingly feeling when the newscast theme-music comes on over the radio. The programs are generally 5-15 minutes long (great for those of us with inch-long attention spans), and they offer a brief yet gripping window into the lives of different people all over the world. My favorite part is listening to the interviews–they are translated into English, but you can hear the person speaking their native language in the background. It’s like seeing Harry Potter in 3D versus reading the books. I.e., it’s like REAL LYFE.
Thus, I think it’s definitely worth checking out for all you cultured kids out there. NPR is THE undervalued communication conduit of our generation. Tap it.