Russians Are So Different

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.

Answering Questions About the Protests in Russia

People are sending in questions and finding the blog through online searches about the protests in Russia. I decided to answer these questions in a separate post since there seems to be so much interest.

1. Are the Russian protests inspired by the #OSW?

– The answer is no. Absolutely not. And the tendency to explain things happening in other countries through what goes on in one’s own is never a productive strategy. The protests in Russia have nothing to do with the economy. I have not seen or heard of a single economic demand coming from the protesters in any of the sources in Russia I have been following during the recent events. The people who protest in Russia are members of the middle and the upper-middle class. One of their leaders is a billionaire who became famous for proposing 12-hour work days for his employees. The other leaders are very rich people, too. These are folks who have made enough money not to be seduced by the small amounts Putin pays to his fake supporters. Most of the protesters are comfortable enough financially to afford to have a civic consciousness.

If anything, the Russian protests follow in the footsteps of the Orange tradition started by Ukraine several years ago. Of course, the fiercely anti-Ukrainian Russians will never recognize this but we’ve seen similar protests take place in Ukraine in 2004-5 when the results of the elections were falsified and people took to the streets to reclaim their right to vote for whomever they want.

The protesters in Ukraine won. Their brothers and sisters in Russia are not likely to win.

2. Have the falsifications during the recent elections been greater than during the previous elections?

– Again, absolutely not. The elections were always falsified in really egregious ways and everybody knew about that. Nothing changed about the elections except the voters. They are not interested in sitting by patiently while their votes are being stolen any more. It took a while but finally people are slowly waking up to the idea that corruption is not OK. At least, when it is indulged in by people other than themselves.

3. What is the future of the protest movement in Russia?

– It pains me to say so, but the future of the protests looks grim right now. The people of Russia need a strong leader (or a group of leaders.) Historically, they have always needed a leader to worship and detest at the same time. There are no strong, effective leaders in the country today. The so-called opposition consists of sad, pathetic, out-of-touch remnants of the Soviet-time dissident movement and a couple of politicians who have squandered their political capital through decades of impotence and uselessness. None of them is a match for Putin in terms of effectiveness and strength.

I have a feeling that the protests are fizzling out already. Of course, this is one area where I’d really like to be mistaken. I will keep updating my readers on the developments in Russia.

I welcome any other questions on this subject. Most of the information on the Russian protests that I’m seeing in North American media is complete and utter junk.

From A Russian Radio Station

These are some of the things that I just heard on Russia’s most progressive radio station:

“Protests against the unfair elections took place not only in Moscow but also in Russia.”

“For a very long time, many people couldn’t fulfill their dream of moving to Moscow because housing was very expensive in the city. Now, however, this dream has become accessible to anybody. Our company sells cheap, luxurious cottages starting at only $200,000.”

“Great Britain is repenting the huge mistake it made when it allowed all those dark-skinned folks who have recently been let out of their cages in Africa to move to the country. These people should have stayed in their zoos instead of coming to a civilized country and destroying it. I’m sure everybody noticed that the darker your skin is, the likelier you are to be dirty, rude, and mean to others.”

None of the programs that contained these statements tried to be humorous or parodic. This was all said completely in earnest. And I didn’t even try the really hardcore ultra-nationalistic stations.

Ask me again why I don’t hang out with people from my country.

Protests Are Good for a Country’s Reputation!

This is an excerpt from the list of search terms that brought people to my blog the day before yesterday:

And here is how the search terms changed after the recent anti-government protests in Russia:

Now Russia is not all about prostitutes for people who do searches online. I think this is a very positive trend.

Russians Are Hilarious

So the Russian leader Putin went to a boxing match and got booed. The Russian government immediately announced that it never happened and he hadn’t gotten booed. Reports from the event were edited so that the booing wouldn’t be there. However, many people recorded the event and placed videos of it online.

Then, the Russian government placed an announcement that it had been a positive booing rather than a negative one. Instantly, hundreds of bloggers and journalists published articles analyzing the pitch of the boo and stating that it was decidedly negative in tone. They also drew everybody’s attention to the very distinctive yells of “Putin, go away!” from the audience.

After millions of people had familiarized themselves with the video of the booing incident and it became impossible to deny that the booing was very negative, the Russian government suggested that the person who was getting booed wasn’t Putin but rather one of the boxers.

Immediately, crowds of people started sending messages to the boxer explaining that everybody loved him and he was not the one being booed.

Let’s see what the Russian government’s next move is going to be.

Here is the video so that you can decide for yourself whether Putin was booed positively or negatively.