I love YouTube. It’s quite possibly the greatest invention since AOL instant message. Specifically I love dash-cam footage of drunk idiots trying to walk a straight line, crazy chases and of course, insane car crashes. These dash-cam crashes are so prevalent on YouTube, they need their own section. The more and more I would see these crashes pop up, the more and more I noticed that they were all from Russia. What’s up with these Russians? Why do they all have dash-cams and why are they all such crazy drivers? Seemingly every week a new dash-cam crash from Russia pops up on YouTube. They are pretty crazy videos showing the streets of Russia to resemble a day in Liberty City (GTA reference anyone?).
So, after being fascinated with the roads of Russia and it’s over abundance of dash-cams, I did some research. It turns out that it’s somewhat necessary for a Russian to have a dash-cam installed. In a country with dangerous driving conditions, corrupt police and a high probability that a small fender bender will turn into a boxing match rather than exchanging insurance information, the dash-cam is there for the truth. Driving has turned into not just something you do to get you from point A to point B, but Russians are now claiming it as a brand new contact sport. Hit and run accidents are common and let’s not forget that road rage is out of control in the country. Roads are primitive in many areas making for very dangerous driving conditions. Fraud and scammers are everywhere trapping drivers into staged accidents. With all that taken into account, a dash-cam is your only friend for many Russian drivers. Hell after re-reading that paragraph, sounds like I’m talking about India, but that’s another blog.
Some quick facts: Last year in Russia, 200,000 traffic accidents killed 28,000 people. (More than 32,000 died in car accidents in the United States in 2011, a much lower figure per capita.) Former President Dmitry Medvedev blamed the “undisciplined, criminally careless behavior of our drivers” for the insanity we see on YouTube. Medvedev also partly blamed the traffic police. One journalist said that the police system “is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes,” ranking 133rd among the world’s nations in corruption (where number one is the least corrupt). Wow, again, are we talking about India?!
My all time favorite Russian dash-cam video. I truly hope no cows were hurt in the making of this dash-cam video.
So, in conclusion, Russian drivers are certifiable lunatics (if you haven’t seen these videos on YouTube, I urge you to go check them out. Warning, you might get a bit addicted). So in dealing with these lunatics, video evidence of your innocence may be the only thing you have. Thank God that I will never have to travel on Russian roads in my life!!
Wait, ummm, oh yea, there was that one time I went to Moscow! Ah, yes, my adventures in Moscow. Monday morning, September 17th 2012, my short trip to Russia was coming to an end and I had one thing left to do, get to the airport in Moscow to finally fly home after a week of being away. Sounds easy enough, eh? Well, it turned out to be the most difficult thing I’d ever have to do. Couple days prior to my departure, I had landed in Moscow and it seemed like every crash dash-cam YouTube video was playing in my head as we hit the road. I had a one mile walk before I even got in the car, not a good start. Let me explain. As we exited the airport (myself and two local wrestlers with the promotion who came to pick me up), I expected a car awaiting my arrival. Usually that’s how it goes when you get picked up. Well, not in Russia apparently. My new found friends and I proceeded to walk and walk and walk. We literally exited the entire airport and finally saw another young comrade awaiting our arrival. I was informed on our trek that the car was going to meet up with us as we walked. I guess something got lost in translation because what they meant to say was that “We were too cheap to pay the parking fee to get into the airport, so we had our friend wait in his car outside the airport”. Off to a great start!
At least I didn’t see a dash-cam in the car as we headed to my hotel. Before I get to the disaster of Monday morning, let me clarify that prior to that my trip was excellent. Here are the details. As I arrived in my hotel in Moscow Saturday morning, I was thrilled to see how nice it was and most importantly, free wifi. After I took a bit of a nap, I was picked up by my Russian comrades and whisked away to see the sights of Moscow. The lead comrade was Kostya. He was a young man in his early twenties who was also a wrestler for the local IWF (the promotion who had brought me to Russia) and who’s job was to take care of me or in other words, just make sure my needs were met and I felt comfortable in a foreign land. Kostya was very kind and an all around great guy who really went out of his way to show me all the sights of Moscow. I saw, amongst many other famous sights, Red Square, the Kremlin, Alexander Garden, Vladimir Lenin’s tomb, a kick ass art gallery with tons of famously historic pieces and that building that looks like it is made of colorful balloons. You know, the building you see in every picture of Russia. Well, the place is called Saint Basil Cathedral and aside from being one of the worlds most historic and recognizable sights, it was downright gorgeous in person. I also got to see the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. I was fortunate enough to go inside during service and words will never do it justice. It was the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Just immaculate and not one inch of wall was uncovered. Paintings and stain glass windows coated the entire building. The architecture was breath taking and it was hard to believe that this was the sight that the Pussy Riot (a punk rock band whose protest created worldwide headlines in April of 2012) decided to hold a political protest in.
Kostya and his friends took me to a great dinner that night. Now the only thing left to tackle was the show the next night. Sunday evening usually doesn’t make for a great night of live entertainment in the States, but Moscow was a bit different. The place was packed and we had a hell of a show. I got to tag with M-Dogg 20 (see Cage of Death 6 blog) and I even got to wrestle my new friend Kostya in a tag match. We had a great match and were the main event of the night. I was on a high after seeing one of the most historic cities in the world AND having a kick ass wrestling match in that same city. Pro wrestling had afforded me such an amazing opportunity, to see Russia! But, as Monday morning was coming to an end, it seemed like I would be stuck in Russia forever.