Thursday, 22 March 2012

How old is old?

Russia is not the place to come if you are a single women above the age of twenty-five and are anything other than supremely comfortable with that. Or at least that's been my experience. Whilst travelling from Vladivostock to Moscow this summer, the most common question I was asked was about my age. The conversation usually went something like this:

Local: How old are you?
Me: Thirty
Local: Thirty??!!! What do your children think about you leaving them to go travelling?
Me: I don't have any children
Local: No children? What does your husband say about that?
Me: I'm not married

At this point, several people basically told me to get a move on, one man asked me, quite seriously, if I realised that no one would marry me now, and one woman recommended a particular shrine in Siberia to me, where women went to pray to God to send them a husband and children. The point of this is that ideas about age are slightly different here, partly because life expectancy is lower. In 2009 CNN reported that the chance of a 18-year-old man reaching retirement age in Russia was only 50%, vs. 90% in the West. In this context, leaving it till past thirty to get married and have children is leaving it a bit late.

Yesterday I had a conversation about mid-life crises with my english conversation class. I explained that this was something people might go through around the age of forty-five or so, to which one man pointed out to me that in Russia that was a bit late to be having a mid-life crisis, when you might well only live for another ten years (he was slightly on the pessimistic side here - life expectancy at birth is 62.8 for men and 74.7 for women. Still, the figure for men is more than fifteen years lower than the comparable figure for men in the UK).

No comments:

Post a Comment