SIBERIA - A SURVIVAL DICTIONARY VI

Superheroes, Victims, Frontiers

Siberia will baptize you in alcoholic promiscuity.
Siberia will burn the word pochmelie in your mind.

Siberia, in one word, is hangover: partying is as much a part of the Slavic DNA as suffering. So if you want to be a sponge standing on two legs while fountains of alcohol stream down, this is the place to be.

In Siberia, you don’t just get lost in the white and in translation, you also get lost in alcohol. Siberia has one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the world, along with suicide, depression and poverty. The core of the country is vodka. And the first consequence of vodka is a hangover. In a country where a marriage party can last 15 days and where New Years Eve — an excuse to drink — is celebrated twice to honor both the Gregorian and Julian calendar, there are no alcohol experts, just varying degrees of ignorance. The hangover in Russia, in Emanuel Carrere’s words, is “being drunk for days without getting over it, hanging out from one place to the next, boarding on trains with an unknown destination, confiding intimate secrets to strangers met through chance, forgetting all you did and said: it is a trip”.

Whoever you are, wherever you happen to be, whenever you are offered it, follow the Siberian imperative: drink. If you are happy or sad, drink. Drink from pain or anger; drink from loneliness or sociability. Drink: Siberia offers you numerous reasons to do it. The legend of Russian drinking began in Europe during the reign of Ivan III. But nobody had yet spread word of the Russian hangover. Here it is.

Open a blank notebook. Continue your linguistic perestroika by writing down the sixth word in Cyrillic that you will need, in the smiling hypothesis that you will survive this land’s rivers of vodka.

The sixth word you need to write down on the page is Похмелье. Pochmelie. Hangover.

Then:

-  It is forbidden to drink on the streets or in public places. To avoid paying a heavy fine, cover your bottle of vodka in a paper bag as all Russian do. You can drink from the A.M. hours without being judged. In fact, you will be in good company.

- To get rid of the hangover, take a small shot of vodka in the morning: it will balance the alcoholic level in your body. Then drink water, particularly if you are thin: the thinner you are, the less water you have in your body and the more liquid you will need.

- Swallow pills of coal: in Russia you can buy them everywhere. Then eat fermented, salty food or food containing citric acid, then apples, honey or eggs.

- Russians don’t trust people that do not drink, nor do they respect people who don’t know how to deal with a hangover. In a world of liars, true friends are in vodka veritas. After 10 shots of vodka you will understand Russian culture, behavior and language perfectly.

- It is easy to find imaginary friends after few vodka shots. Name them, but don’t trust the vodka voices: that is exactly how pochmelie works.

- Time dilates depending on your alcoholic level. On the fragmented mirror of your mind, at the very point when you think you are having an epiphany, you are crossing the border to

- A law from 1991 was one of the most hated laws in Russia because it nearly banned liquor from the streets of the country. Everyone born after that date remembers it.

- If you find yourself in a dramatic situation with no solution, do what former president Elsin would have done: instead of a coup d’etat, take a few more vodka shots.

- Homemade vodka is made with alcohol and sugar in the bathtub. If you drink it, just accept the fact that chunks of your consciousness will be lost forever.