There’s an engineering tradition in Russia and more particularly, a quirky engineering tradition.
In our town, there were nine technical universities against one general, one pedagogical, one financial and one general scientific. Every second person, it seemed, engineered something or at least cobbled things together.
You’ve probably heard the old one about the tank in the desert which had broken down. The American expert came out, took a look over the tank and immediately wrote the list of parts he’d need flown out from Pittsburgh. The British expert looked it over and said, “Bloody typical.”
The Russian expert came out and thought this a tough one. So he had a drop of vodka while he was thinking. That brought some more Russians over and they all shared a vodka, with one of them handing around the dried fish and pickled cucumber. Eventually they took a look at the tank, swarming all over and under it.
Someone had an idea. They cobbled together the waistband of a pair of undies, some chewing gum and various other bits and pieces, arranged them and one of the “robyeta” [guys] tried to kick it over. It spluttered and died. Everyone was giving ideas, adjustments were made.
Kicked it over – almost started but no.
More vodka and nibbles.
Someone suggested another idea involving hairpins from the girls.
They were ready again, they tried it, it kicked over and spluttered into life.