. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rudeness on Phone Doesn't Preclude Good Care

In response to a letter by Suzanne LaFlair in "Mailbox," Aug. 10.

I sympathized with the reader who wrote in describing how she had kindly phoned the organization Eurovet offering a donation, only to be rudely rebuffed by a Russian receptionist who criticized her Russian accent. But I disagreed with the letter's implication that such rudeness suggested Eurovet would treat people arriving with sick animals with equal or worse discourtesy.

My experience as a Eurovet customer is extensive, and I regard the place as a godsend. Maybe my terrible Russian has been the cause of mirth behind my back, but what matters to me is the way they have treated my animals -- always with the utmost care and kindness. Another advantage is that you can make an appointment, instead of waiting several hours to see a harried vet, as occurs in many Russian clinics.

My experience of Russian vets has also been extensive. One cat was bitten by an aggressive wolfhound in a crowded waiting room. Another cat nearly died after infection set in after what should have been a simple spaying operation. I took her to another vet, who shouted at me because the vet who did the operation did not put her on antibiotics. And one of my pair of cats caught a virus, for which no Russian clinic could test or diagnose. He nearly died, too.

All my friends have horror stories, like the Russian vet who inserted a huge corrosive metal pin in a cat's broken leg, causing massive infection. A superb New Zealand vet at Eurovet saved its life. He fought for several hours to save the cat's leg, but unfortunately the infection was so severe that he had to amputate.

The Eurovet vets, unlike a lot of Russian vets, give the impression that they actually like animals. I can understand the writer's deciding against making her donation after the rudeness she encountered, but why discard good intentions? There are Russian animal shelters that take in stray cats and dogs and that are desperate for donations.

Robyn Dixon

Grim Necessity

In response to "Music Gives Parties Swing, or Strings," Aug. 14.

For reasons unknown to me, this article appeared in the "Shopping" section, though I would not define this information as related to shopping.

As for musicians' working on the streets, and particularly performing at parties of the so-called "new Russians," this is typical not only of non-professionals or rock groups but also of highly educated classical musicians, the very people who represent our country in serious music competitions the world over.

I think I have the right to write about this subject because I am the manager for the Russian String Quartet, which performs with the Moscow State Philharmonic and is the winner of many national and international competitions.

What, in your opinion, should these musicians do? Perform classical music in the best halls -- as their colleagues in the West do -- and thus earn enough money to survive as professionals? They are certainly qualified to do so, having studied at the conservatory for 10 years.

Though they do actually perform in both halls at the conservatory, what do they earn? A mere 20,000 rubles [about $4]. How can they survive? That's why nearly all such groups -- and we're no exception -- seek the "big guys with big wallets."

But I should mention that even very large sums of money can't buy such groups as the Borodin Quartet -- they have plenty of money. But there aren't a lot of groups like them -- believe me!

Perhaps people think that it's a pleasure for groups to play serious music by composers such as Shostakovich while these new Russians are eating and drinking at their parties. Do you really believe that the new Russians listen to and understand this music? No, they only invite the musicians in an effort to make an impression on people like themselves.

In conclusion, I can't help noting that these parties -- and the money they provide -- have saved more than one group from breaking up. People, even those who are most altruistic, can't work for nothing.

I hope that someday we and other quartets will be able to play only for people who really want to hear their music.

Tatyana Berlul


Russian String Quartet