Friday, March 21, 2014

Cosmonauts and women

I was in Westport the other day, giving a briefing to the Jewish federation on Russia and Ukraine and the work we do together. 
And a random factoid came up, which I want to bring up here. 

We were talking about Saratov, the unofficial second capital of the Volga region of Russia. I made a joke about Yuri Gagarin, Russia’s first cosmonaut, who not only came from Saratov but also landed his Soyuz capsule there (the joke was that he wanted to go home to his mom and dad for dinner*). 
But the other point that lots of Russians have told me was that “Saratov has the most beautiful women in Russia.”

So … I checked with some colleagues and research notes on this issue. And if you ever wanted “proof” (such as it is) for how long-lasting some impressions can be in these areas … here’s a good example. 
The story that beautiful women are from Saratov comes from 1247, when the conquering Tartars (yes, the same ones we’re now talking about in Crimea) ordered all the beautiful women of Russia to go to Saratov.

You could legitimately claim that things may have changed slightly in the last 700 years.
But then you’d be grappling with the weight of history

*it was funny. You had to be there.

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