A Russian-speaking blogger in California has pointed me in the direction of this hilarious textbook about the differences between the Russians and the Americans. Folks, this was so funny that I forgot my midpoint tenure review, set aside my valiant struggle with my Canadian bank, and laughed so hard I almost peed myself.
Here are some quotes from the book:
“If you want to say ‘OK,’ don’t make a circle with your thumb and first finger,” the woman began. ” That means OK here in the United States, but in Russia it’s an obscene gesture.”
Erm. . . No, it isn’t. If anybody wants an obscene Russian gesture, I can show you one. But the OK gesture is not offensive. It is understood by everybody and used by many in Russian-speaking countries.
“It’s all right to admire something,” the woman continued, ” but don’t be too enthusiastic. Don’t say, ‘I really like your tablecloth. Your Russian friend will offer you the tablecloth and will be offended if you don’t take it. “
The funny thing is that the Russians have the same myth about the people from Transcaucasia. In all probability, Transcaucasians tell this legend of Americans. Thus, the legend comes a full circle.
The Russians knew that Americans were fond of pets, but they were shocked to see pets inside homes. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw dogs eating in the kitchen and sleeping on people’s beds.
Huh? And where exactly do Russians keep their pets, I wonder? Pet lovers are the same everywhere, and the Russian ones are no exception.
Remember that, in general, life in Russia is not as comfortable as life in the United States. You might not have hot running water, or you might have to share a bathroom with five or six people.”
Yes, those five or six people are called your family members. When I was growing up, I had to share my bathroom with 3 other people, imagine that. Life was so uncomfortable. Americans, however, all have one bathroom per each family member. Or two bathrooms per one person.
A Russia woman gasped when she saw an American pour rice directly from a box into a pan of boiling water. ” You didn’t wash the rice?” she asked. She explained that at home she had to wash the rice carefully and pick out all the stones.
The idiot who wrote the text doesn’t even realize that, in all probability, the box of rice the Russian woman in question uses has the words “Uncle Ben’s Rice” written on it. A huge percentage of food consumed in Russia is imported from North America.
In Russia, the evening meal often lasts an hour or two because families sit at the table and talk. When American families eat together – if they eat together – they often eat quickly and don’t take time for long conversations.
This is too ridiculous for comment. Some people eat together, some eat separately. Some talk, some are silent. There is nothing even remotely culture-specific about this.
The textbook reminded me of that time when my colleagues asked me to wear the kind of clothes we wear in my country for a campus event. It took a while to explain that what I wear to work every day is exactly the same as what I would wear to work back in my country.
The Cold War mythology need not be preserved in the world of global communications, people. Nowadays, we don’t have to guess. We can actually know.