You may know that I speak fluent Russian. In fact, I worked as a translator for many years and have lived in a few post-Soviet countries for extended periods.
Ever since I was young, I've had a fascination with the Russian language and culture. I think back to my time in those countries with incredible fondness, even though they were difficult times in many ways.
It was there that I learned about how I get in my own way. My Russian was good, but my perfectionism REALLY got in the way. When I was drunk I spoke it like a native, but sober, the fear would sometimes cripple me and I would end up speaking English in the office. Get a few bevvies in me and I'd be throwing Russian slang around like I'd grown up there.
Bald and Bankrupt
I'm not sure how this YouTube channel came onto my radar. Probably a suggestion from the algorithm after I'd been watching another Russian vlogger. Once I started watching Bald and Bankrupt, I was hooked. He travels around the former Soviet Union and shows the real country. He's got no interest in showing us Moscow or St Petersburg or Kyiv or Tashkent. No, he gets to those places then jumps on a random bus to go and visit the villages.
What really stands out to me is just how big-hearted Benjamin is. He speaks Russian and doesn't care one fig about getting his grammar right. He talks to people on the streets and has a real knack for making people feel good, like the one where he went through an army checkpoint in Chechnya without his passport and got the soldiers on side.
He's also fearless about filming people and vlogging on the streets in busy places. That same fear that held me back linguistically is also the same fear that keeps me from filming in public or being sneaky about it instead of being open and big-hearted.
I'm learning so much from watching Benjamin's channel. Of course, I'm fascinated by the places that he visits and I'm finding myself feeling incredible nostalgia for that part of my life that has probably gone forever. Instead of feeling sad about that, I'm feeling grateful that I had those opportunities, and I can watch Benjamin's videos and just enjoy them, rather than wishing it were me.
I would go as far as to say that Benjamin's videos give me hope for humanity and they are helping me a great deal in showing me the kind of person I would like to be. They also inspire me to get my camera out and make my own content, whatever form that might take. Something like this maybe?
Or maybe I'll get back to some recovery content. That might be a good move for my channel. We'll see!