While In Russia Beware of… Windows? Posted by on Nov 21, 2008 in Culture, language, Traditions

In the world of silly/strange/solicitous statistics, apparently, Russia is – rather unexpectedly, I must admit – the leader when it comes to the number of people that fall out of windows on a daily basis. In Russia 17 people fall out of windows daily. I had almost forgot how to smile, let alone laugh, at the peculiar wonders of Russian reality, when a fellow Gothenburgian’girl from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, visiting Yekaterinburg for the ‘Days of Sweden’ in our city, told me this today during lunch. Until I have found any firm facts to confirm this statement it will remain within the category of «анекдоты» [anecdote; jokes; funny stories], [I’ve been googling myself mad today to find the source for this information, but failed helplessly. If you’ve heard of it or know where it’s from, please let me know!] but it still makes you think, doesn’t it?

As I am always trying to understand Russia through Russians – «узнать Россию через русских» – and not from jumping to conclusions, I decided to ask some Russians about this, and hear their point of view on the issue as to why their nation has a tendency to fall out of windows.

The first one said: «Это потому, что русские самы моют свои окна, а не клининговая компания!» [“It is because Russian themselves clean their windows, and no cleaning company!”]

The second one said: «Нет, это потому, что у русского человека всегда был, будет и есть стремление к полёту. Поэтому и пьют, коли из окон не падают.» [“No, it is because the Russian (person) always had, always will have and has a yearning to flight (i.e. yearns to fly). That’s why they drink, if they’re not falling out of windows, that is.”]

Then the second person added: «Либо сначала напьются, и потом выпадут, либо просто напьются, и этого и так хватает для полёта…» [Either they first get drunk, and then fall out (of windows), or just get drunk, and that’s enough as it is for a flight…]

Whatever the reason may be for this, uhm, phenomena – I myself thought perhaps it had something to do with the current financial crisis and people jumping away from their problems to an instant relief in death from sky scrapers in Moscow, but I may be wrong – there is indeed a lesson in this for everyone to learn. Beware of windows, especially while in Russian Federation. Do not let any people in Irkutsk lure you to lean out of their window to look at the sky on a starry night just because – «ах, красота какая!» Be careful when cleaning windows in the Volga region, you never know just how slippery soap can be until it is too late. And when tightening those cracks in the Soviet windows of your room in a dormitory in the Urals, make sure not to open them any more than necessary.

The last advice concerns a very much present problem for me – as winter draws closer and the temperatures drop I might have to do just that this weekend or I’ll be waking up with frost on my eyelashes and that, let me tell you, is overrated.

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  1. ned kelly:

    It is difficult to accidentaly fall through a Russian window – have you noticed, ALL their side-hung windows open outwards!! Next time you watch an American spy film (with a Russian setting), when someone is thrown through a window, note which way the windows are opened (usually incorrectly, to the outside)!!

  2. Nola:

    I think that perhaps this might be simply because of the large number of multistoried apartment buildings that exist in Russia. Because of all that construction during the Soviet years, there are so many, and still so many people inhabit them. Not everyone can live on the first floor!

  3. stas:

    Hey, until there are some solid facts that it is true I will be treating it as an urabn legend. However, it’s gotta be country where there is the most number of people fly out of the windows. It could be Russia as well. But gimme facts. On funny note when I read the title I thought you were gonna talk about operating system from Microsoft. Below I put the story which might give some insights where in Russia people like to fly (sorry, it in Russian):

    Лето, тихие зелёные дворы, окна нараспашку, в одном из домов на втором этаже гуляет свадьба. “Пипл” видно простой – поют русские народные, мешают дешевую водку с портвейном. Вдруг песни прекратились, звон разбитой посуды, бабы орут, ну короче ясно – драка. И что там у них произошло – не ясно, но вроде как по воплям, спёр мужик со стола бутылку и пытался её сухим пайком с собой утащить. Ну мужику бьют морду, выволакивают на балкон, благо этаж второй и под балконом кустики-цветочки, и раскачав на раз-два-три скидывают на этот огород. При этом падение его производит впечатление неизгладимое – прыжки в воду с трехметрового трамплина, тройное сальто прогнувшись. Лежит он, не двигается, треснулся-то капитально, другой на его месте сломал бы себе чего, а народ снова за стол, песни петь и т.д. Через некоторое время мужик встаёт (правда, встаёт – это сильно сказано, вертикальное положение он принимал минут пять да так и не принял, видно, здорово нарезался) и так это ползёт к парадной, заходит и снова в ту же квартиру. Звонок. Радушный громкий голос в прихожей:
    – Семен! Ты где ёбтваюмать ходишь? Мужики, Семен пришел!!!
    Громкие вопли:
    – Штрафную ему! Штрафную!
    Свадьба продолжается.

  4. saint:

    This post reminds me of my favorite English word, “defenestration.” There’s even a historical event, which triggered the 30 Years War: The Defenestration of Prague