The Russian Girl Photo Shoot

When roaming far and wide you tend to meet a lot of people. Most of these people, for a variety of reasons, tend to be other travelers. And, in my experience, most travelers tend to be what I categorize as “western”… i.e. Europeans (French, German, Scandanavian, Spanish, etc.), UKers, Canadians, Australians, Americans, etc. We’re all different of course, but we generally share a common culture and have similar frames of reference. Of course I’d run into the occasional traveler that wasn’t from one of the above places (Koreans in Spain, Argentines in India, Brazilians in Ibiza), but it was less common. However, certain places, again, for a variety of reasons, become hotspots for particular folks… Israelis in India and Nepal, Swedes on Lanta Island in Thailand, Australians in Lagos, Portugal, older frauleins in Mombasa, etc. Such is the case with Russians in Goa.

I don’t know why, but I suspect it’s a combination of Russia being cold over the winter, Goa being a relatively close winter beach destination, India being a cheap place to stay and other Russians having been there before. Whatever the reason, most of the northern beaches/towns in Goa are dominated by Russian tourists (such that most of the menus are in Cyrillic, many of the workers can speak basic Russian and clubs feature Russian New Year’s parties with DJs from Moscow, etc.). Now, what happens when you get a majority of people from any one particular culture is that the place tends to take on the culture of that dominant group (or maybe even a slightly exaggerated form of that culture). So I think it’s safe to say that you can get a little slice of Russia… the culture, the attitude, the quirks… in Goa.

I’ve never really been around a large number of Russians before. So it was nice to turn on the observational powers and just watch them action. One thing that stuck out was what I deemed the “Russian Girl Photo Shoot”™. First, let me step back a moment and say that it’s no big revelation that girls like to take pictures of themselves looking good to show off a bit, and that both men and women like to look said pictures (there are entire industries built around this principle). From American girls out at a party to endless stream of selfies by Taiwanese girls, it’s a universal phenomenon. However, Russian girls have elevated their photo-taking game to a whole ‘nother level. In Goa, no matter the time of day, somewhere nearby there was always… always… a Russian girl modeling for a camera. And when I say modeling for the camera, I mean full-on posing… crawling through the water on all fours, acting like a cat, smiling, staring, turning, sitting down in the sand, legs crossing, uncrossing, looking over the shoulder, etc. You can almost see an imaginary director there yelling out the posing commands. If you were on the beach at sunset, there were Russian girls getting their pictures about every 100 yards. They’d also never just take a couple of pictures and be done with it either, with all the posing, these things would turn out to be full on 10-20 minute photo shoots. I know that when everyone is picturing this scene in their heads they’re picturing young women, but that’s thing, it was all women… from the young ones to the babushkas (yes, really). And more often than not it would be two women taking turns photographing each other (if they were using a prop, like a scarf or a hat, one would hand it to the other as they switched places). Otherwise, it would be the girl’s boyfriend/husband taking the pictures.

For illustrative purposes, one time at beach my friend and I were watching a rather attractive couple doing the Russian Girl Photo Shoot™. The guy was full on into the photo-taking process, running around for different angles, lying on his stomach, getting in the water… so much so that at one point, while on this stomach (with a professional-style large camera and lens I might add), he actually monkey-rolled all the way over back onto his stomach to continue taking pictures from a slightly different angle, all while keeping his giant camera from getting any sand or water on it… just pure ridiculousness. Another funny thing with this couple (that I never saw with another Russian couple) was that she stopped posing, took the camera and proceeded to take pictures of him… however, it only took her about four pictures before she stopped and got back in front of the camera herself. 

I had never seen such photo-taking mania en masse like this before. The Russian Girl Photo Shoot™ was everywhere in Goa, and as Goa was the first place I really saw it, I just chalked it up to a Goa thing… but then I saw it along the beaches in Thailand. And then, at the Taj Mahal, I noticed a couple of well-dressed women doing some model-like posing there… sure enough, they were Russian (I asked). I saw it again and again and again at other tourist sites in India as well, empirically proving that it’s not just a Goa thing, it’s a Russian thing. So be on the look-out… if you see girls doing some ridiculous camera posing for an abnormally long period of time at a tourist destination near you, there’s a good chance they’ll be Russian.

Ingrained in the culture? A Russian father and his daughter Russian Girl Photo Shoot-style on the beach in Goa.

Ingrained in the culture? A Russian father and his daughter posing Russian Girl Photo Shoot-style on Morjim beach in Goa at sunset.

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