St Petersburg!

Not having internet connection here, this is written after the fact.

Venice of the north, Amsterdam of the east, New Orleans with snow – St Petersburg is a vital European city in Russian overdrive, with an understandable but entirely unnecessary inferiority complex.  A mass of contradictions, historical, cultural, and economic – and my visit was too short to sort them out – so, a few impressions:

My workshop here, primarily with osteopaths, many with previous medical degrees, shows a level of osteopathy above what I have experienced in Germany, and just below that of England.  No surprise, in retrospect, as Russian osteopathy has deep connections with the British schools – Maidstone and the European School.  As usual, European osteopathy is a mule between two bales of hay – dedication to its holistic healing roots on one side, and the need for mainstream recognition (and thus procedures, verifiability, and bureaucracy) on the other.

The Russian students are argumentative, but in a friendly way – great dialogue.  The Russians are prepared to go deep in a way the Asians will find it culturally very hard to match, I feel.

More men than women, but Larisa – in looks she could have been a housewife from Cleveland, but was instead a powerhouse of questions and organization – used her new-found freedom to argue with my points on comparative anatomy to insist that the up-and-coming view was that the world was created in an instant.  What I would have regarded as a troglodytic arrival from Christian Kansas if I encountered it in Amerika was, in this context, her statement of faith in opposition to the oppressive atheistic culture she had grown up in.  I let it pass.

Translation, however, was a bit of a problem – the first day a Russian osteopath, Galina – a stately woman with a mobile face above a huge and ornate amber brooch, interpreted my ideas in terms of her own views of osteopathy.  The second two days were with Georgy, a pale, thin cardiologist, who does translating on the side to earn some money (even a specialist doctor in the Russian system earns only a few hundred dollars per month).  Georgy was quick with the medical terminology, but had trouble with the structural concepts.  Even so, the workshop was running very well by the middle of the second day, and a good time was had by all.  I even got a few jokes across, which is difficult in this culture, even though within their own language they have a ready smile and no small wellspring of irony, which is a strict requirement of Russian life.

My hosts, Julia and Dmitriy, have been working very hard to promote my ideas and get this workshop to happen. He is soulful, Russian, dedicated to osteopathy and healing, young and a bit unsure.  She is erudite, fun, and takes no prisoners. The daylight is long – though we are not yet in the ‘white nights’ of June and July – and I never make it back to the hotel before 11pm.


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