Some short generalizations that I have encountered since my arrival to Russia in 1992 which helped me to understand this fantastic country and its people. I hope these hints will explain how “we” might do things differently and share my excitement and enthusiasm for being here! Enjoy!
1. WHO ARE “WE”? First of all don’t forget that we have 20 fingers and 2 brains (no different word for toes & fingers – only location). The brain and the spine have the same name.
2. Carpe Diem: We seize the moment and do what we think is right solving any issues on the spot!
3. Cars & Traffic: We love our cars and we drive against yellow lights – watch out! Traffic can be intense during weekdays and we DON’T avoid peak hours. During summer weekends we leave the city for our “dachas”!
4. Coats & Jackets: We never enter a restaurant with the coat on – even to have a quick look!
5. Whistle: We never whistle inside as we don’t want to lose our money – be careful! You can show happiness in so many other different ways!
6. Foreigners & understanding: We have a great tolerance to foreigners speaking “broken” Russian and during Soviet Union era we had 123 different language groups “speaking” our language. Try for example “Yellow Blue Bus” which in Russian means “I love you” in a formal way. An immediate response is guaranteed…
7. Going Home: In St. Petersburg we make a quick decision to go home or stay – usually around an hour or two after midnight. Instead it might be worth waiting until after 4am when the bridges are down again! In Moscow we stay as long as we want and might have breakfast before going home…
8. Hello & Goodbye: When we are polite, we put the coat on before saying goodbye and we never greet one another on the threshold which brings bad luck!
9. Horoscopes: We know everything about horoscopes and star signs, all about the elements and Chinese symbolism for every New Year. So watch out – we might know more about you than you think…
10. Ice cream: We usually have ice cream for dessert and eat it outdoors in the winter time – as long as it’s cold it makes us feel fresh…
11. Information: If you want to know something – why don’t you ask? Why should we talk too much if nobody is interested? Do you really want to know?
12. Meat: In our local Russian restaurants meat should always be well done and it will be – a delicious alternative is Beef Stroganoff!
13. Mobile Phones: If the telephone rings, we take it – what ever is happening around us and in any conditions. What happens NOW is more important than important things later – it’s even impolite to not answer!
15. Opinions: There are 145 million people in Russia – and as many opinions! If you want to find out the truth you have to collect as many opinions as you can and make up your own mind.
16. Photos: We don’t want to upset anyone by taking pictures of people in restaurants, bars or night clubs – maybe they don’t want to be seen and probably we don’t know them anyway!
17. Possibly yes? Nothing is possible – rather wait to see for ourselves! We start with a “no” and then… maybe rain, maybe snow…!
18. Presents: We love presents, small gifts and surprises, but we are shy and might not show you enough appreciation! So on behalf of an entire nation – thank you!
19. Smiles: We love a good story and we are very family and friend-orientated, but expect you to take the first step before being emotional with strangers. We might be more Latin or Eastern in our mentality than “Northern European”.
20. Specifics: It’s very difficult to generalize about Russia – so we don’t – things are good and bad, black and white, close or far away but not yet standardized. Everything and everyone should be evaluated as entirely unique!
21. Speeches: We love speeches with the drinks – but not too long – only spontaneously and from the heart!
22. Talking: We are very direct – so is our language. We start with the actual point and leave arguments and description to the end…if anyone’s still listening!
23. Evenings: We usually go out to night clubs just before midnight and sometimes the “entertainment” is spiced with a short strip tease . You either enjoy it or ignore it – just don’t get upset, it is not our intention to offend.