Wednesday, 31 July 2013

It's better to see once than hear a hundred times

Лучше один раз увидеть, чем сто раз услышать.

Transliteration: Luchshe odin raz uvidet', chem sto raz uslyshat'

This is so true - you can know a fact to be true, and understand it, but sometimes seeing a thing or experiencing it can lead to a greater or deeper understanding

I've found myself using this Russian proverb quite a lot lately, as i've flailed around trying to come up with satisfactory English equivalent - "seeing is believing" doesn't quite cut it for me; as it seems to close, in sound and meaning, to "I'll believe it when I see it"  which seems to cast doubt on a fact rather than suggest the opportunity for deeper understanding, which the Russian proverb gives. (There is of course "a picture is worth a thousand words" - but I've only just remembered it. 31 Oct 2013)

I've found this to be true even with the simplest of things. Eg i know potatoes grow in he ground and can be grown from other 
potatoes,  but when I dug some up from my garden that had grown from discarded potato peelings, I had a bit if a eureka moment, a little bit if pleasure as some neurons were fired up in some dark corner of my brain. I'm easily pleased . A eureka moment - an enlightenment , an awakening - incidentally does anyone know whether Buddha (awakened one) shares the same etymology as the Russian word to wake. - budit?  Seems obvious that it does.

Anyway, for me, a trip to Russia offers any number of such moments where seeing once does indeed seem far better than hearing (or reading about). I remember such an occasion when i stopped in Moscow in 1993 on a family homestay visit (incidentally the family were called Kalashnikov) I had long known that Russian cars did not have wiper blades attached to the windscreen wipers - at one time they were in such short supply, that if you left them on, someone would nick them. To avoid this, Russian drivers would remove them and store them in the boot of the car until they were needed I.e. when it starts to rain. A few drops of rain on the windscreen and the driver would immediately pull over and park the car, get the wiper blades out of the boot and attach them,then continue with the journey. Knowing this, I was thrilled when the driver, who had collected me from Sheremetyevo had barely left the car park compound when it started to rain, immediately stopped the car in the side of the road and proceeded to attach his wiper blades - brilliant!

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