Tuesday, 27 August 2013


So, yes, in Soviet Union they knew how to mass produce: kitchen utensils, toys, clothes, furniture and even houses. You could live five time zones away from each other and still have the same apartment layout and bed linen. It’s not that everything was absolutely the same, but ‘Hey, I have exactly the same [whatever]’ was left unsaid at least half of the time.

There used to be a lot of satire about that. It was a part of everyday reality. It could be frustrating, but it also forced people to be creative in order not to lose themselves in this mass produced mass. People went to Moscow, built strong ties with so-called speculators, spent long hours queuing in shops and crafted things. In that struggle to express your individuality, boy, you needed skills!

Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore. And many of us, myself included, have left what’s left of it. We moved westwards for different reasons, but one thing we all knew: there will be freedom and plenty of possibilities to have stuff you like. One can go to a shop and buy, without having to queue, things that they like that are different from that of their neighbours, friends and family.

So here I am. When I visit people in their homes I usually see at least one piece of furniture that I can call by its IKEA name. Kitchen utensils – Brabantia, Koziol or Alessi – I can tell from a distance. If you live in the Netherlands, you own any amount of HEMA items that I will recognise immediately. And kids, wearing H&M, well…

My daughter has a Fisher-Price toy that sings songs in Russian. I spotted the same toy, but singing in German, in Germany last week. And today I saw the very same toy at her kindergarten. So despite of all this consumerism with its huge choice, we still all wear, use and play with the same stuff. How ironic.

This is so old, it’s not even on Youtube: “Вот в этом окне - оранжевый абажур. А вот в этом окне - оранжевый абажур. Но зато в этом окне! - оранжевый абажур. Тысяча окон - тысяча оранжевых абажуров. Люди, как абажуры, похожи друг на друга. Так считает министерство культуры. Так сичтают директора швейных фабрик. Тысяча человек - тысяча одинаковых штанов. А нет того, чтобы сшили одни, огромные-преогромные штаны, и уж надели бы их на всех! - директоров швейных фабрик! Вот тогда бы они поняли, что люди у нас разные, и вкусы у них - разные...”


  1. I remember when I was little we were very happy if someone in the class wore the same sweater or the same shoes. We screamed "sisters!" and that girl was your best friend that day. Now we do our best so that no-one will wear the same clothes as us at a party :)

    1. Well, we had school uniform. Indeed, when you are little, you think wearing the same unites you. Later you learn different. :)


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