How to cool off: Russky stil’


Well, it’s May 13th and it’s 80 degrees outside… After a brief Google conversion: about 27C. I still don’t find it easy to understand Celsius once it gets above 5 or so.

Stupid American measuring systems aside, it’s hot.

Now, growing up in Virginia, I understand that this weather is not really hot hot. Russia doesn’t really do hot hot (except for the first month that I lived here, thanks). But for someone who hasn’t seen the sun since last August, it’s a shock to the system. Aggressive sunshine, heat, and total lack of air conditioning is bumming me out and reminding me why Russian winter doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people.


Me, looking exceptionally pleased at being forced outside.

As I’m bemoaning this weather, I feel like the only one. For the incredibly white people they are, Russians love to be outside in the scorching hot sun sans sunscreen. Hop on the Metro any Monday morning and you’ll see scores of lobster-businessmen hybrids, fresh from planting potatoes for their babushki at the dacha.

As I’m hiding in the tiniest slivers of shade (or, more likely, inside), here’s how the Russians keep cool in the boiling sun:

001. Wear as little as possible. OK, this is obvious and logical; however, Muscovites take it to a whole new level. Men will walk around with no shirts on, women will wear bikini tops or shorts that are not even technically shorts, and children will frolic around naked. Nothing wrong with that except that Moscow is filthy. I mean, all cities are pretty filthy by virtue of being filled with humans so wear clothes. Please!

002. Drink beer. Really, as much as possible. This I cannot get behind. I can enjoy a beer or two on a warm day, but pounding back liters upon liters throughout a hot day is my idea of hell. I guess the idea is that eventually you’ll be so drunk that you won’t notice anything at all.


003. Drink scalding hot tea. I’m sure this practice is fairly common in a lot of places, but the last thing I want to do on a hot day is drink anything warmer than ice cold. The logic is that the hot liquid will raise your internal body temperature to be higher than the outside temperature, making it feel cooler. First of all, unless it’s 100F+, my body temperature is already warmer than the air. Second, no. Just no.

004. Parading around the park in their stringi. Yes, that’s basically as terrifying as it sounds and no, there are no accompanying photos. Nothing ruins a nice walk in the park like turning the corner and seeing someone’s dad in a thong. I’m sure it keeps… everything… lovely and cool, but unfortunately this seems to be a look favored only by overweight men, not the stereotypical Russian beauties. Sorry. We’re all sorry.

That’s all for now. I’m off to do my own cooling down as our “air conditioner” isn’t particularly effective against the morning/afternoon sun shining directly into our large windows. I think it’ll mostly involve sitting in the cold, cold Metro station. Ahh.

11 thoughts on “How to cool off: Russky stil’

  1. This is hilarious. It is 53F right now outside of JFK (NYC) where I am sitting awaiting my flight to Mother Russia, and I am SUPER excited about getting straight into summer weather! I will definitely not be one of those complaining!

  2. Flab held in suspension by “stringi” – could really have done with out that mental image, thanks! ;-)
    China, too, has this theory that hot drinks + hot weather = aircon. The “logic”, as far as I understand it, is that the hot drink makes you sweat, and that cools you down. OK, sweat cools you down, that’s what it’s designed to do, but surely, the hot weather is making people sweat enough already…?! The Russian rationale seems just as fundamentally flawed somehow…

  3. Hilarious! But makes me wish that Mexico City was a little more forgiving as to strategy #1, ‘wear as little as possible.’ As logical is that is, the uniform for women here, even on the hottest days I have experienced in DF so far is jeans or long pants (shorts are a non-no), and possibly a sweater! Enjoying making my way through your blog, will definitely be back! best,

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