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Paintballer
05-08-2010, 11:30
Hey folks!

Everyone of you probably had some funny, unpleasant, unusual or even dangerous stories to tell about you coming to Russia and trying to integrate into local society. Share your stories and recommendations on how to avoid or solve them!

Gypsy
05-08-2010, 13:38
I was brought up to greet everyone with a smile and handshake. Since moving to France it has become a smile and the kissing thing. When you pass people in the street in France you say Hello, when you walk into a shop you greet everyone. It is lovely and makes for a great atmosphere.

Well moscow is different but I was determined that I would carry on smiling, saying hello and being polite even though shop assistants, waitresses etc did not respond.

Near my apartment was an Alie Parusa and I used to shop there on the way home. Despite my smiling and chatting to the staff they would never ever smile back.

Then one day I thought I had lost my Passport and Visa. I remembered I had been into AP the evening before so one of our designers called AP for me. We did not expect anything. However in 10 minutes they called back, said that they could see me on the store video and that I did get something out of my briefcase - but nothing fell on the floor.

Anyway - I found my passport and visa later tucked into a presentation.

But when I went into AP that evening to buy something and say thank you for their help, the staff were smiling and joking. I was the idiot Englishman who'd lost his passport. They thought it was very funny and could not have been more friendly.

So the lesson is - to get people to smile and be friendly - make a fool of yourself.

tvadim133
05-08-2010, 13:50
Things are changing here as well.

But really to smile (that's more to laugh) without a reason is considered to be foolish in Russia.

People are too much serious and thinking (as they think) and to be serious and smiling is smth opposite to each other (we think and are mistaken).

:)

But again things are changing!

Viola
05-08-2010, 13:51
But when I went into AP that evening to buy something and say thank you for their help, the staff were smiling and joking. I was the idiot Englishman who'd lost his passport. They thought it was very funny and could not have been more friendly.

So the lesson is - to get people to smile and be friendly - make a fool of yourself.

Oh, be positive :D! I think it was an event, a small interruption in their boring life, and finally you came and they had an adventure, somthing unusual happened, not just catching a customer who lifted a cake of soap :D. They should have loved you for this!

tasel
05-08-2010, 14:05
People don't smile at each other here, because they don't beleive anybody. Which is usuall in communist countries.

tvadim133
05-08-2010, 14:13
People don't smile at each other here, because they don't beleive anybody. Which is usuall in communist countries.

Really?

Do not think so!

Do not people in Pargue smile (in Poland, in Germany (the eastern part), in Cuba? in Vietnam? in China?)?

I think, you are mistaken or want to think so! :)

Gypsy
05-08-2010, 14:21
Oh, be positive :D! I think it was an event, a small interruption in their boring life, and finally you came and they had an adventure, somthing unusual happened, not just catching a customer who lifted a cake of soap :D. They should have loved you for this!
Apologies - I was being positive, sorry I didn't make that clear.

That's my point - they did love me for it, and I was always made to feel welcome afterwards.

They could not have been more helpful after that.

YuliaVK
05-08-2010, 14:23
Thank You for optimistic view and fotos, that you placed at your page.
It seems like with love to Moscow. Although as any place you visit.
May be we have not enough culture for communications.. but things are changing.

Paintballer
05-08-2010, 15:01
Thank you for your story Gypsy, but guys lets stick to the topic, ok?

You can discuss advantages and disadvantages of communism in a more relevant thread, cant you? :)

Any more interesting stories?

trancophile
05-08-2010, 17:29
Ok, one evening when I was doing a two week stint teaching in the middle of no where in the South I was walking back to the dorm with a pile of icecreams and hinted at offering one (by manner of gesticulation) to the security guard on my way past, of which he declined. Later that night, in the middle of the night, in darkess and while I was asleep, he comes busting into my cottage and gets onto my bed yelling and carrying on. I was in utter shock. He reeked of alcohol and insisted on me understanding what he wanted to communicate. Apprarently he thought I took offense for declining the icecream and that was his way of making sure I didn't! Ha ha, retrospectively it is funny, but at the time I didn't know what to think! Nor do I know how to explain his actions.

Swordfish90293
05-08-2010, 18:32
So the lesson is - to get people to smile and be friendly - make a fool of yourself.

Another proverb would offer a different perspective..."if you want someone to be your friend, allow them to do you a favor"

kassandra
05-08-2010, 18:55
Things are changing here as well.

But really to smile (that's more to laugh) without a reason is considered to be foolish in Russia.

People are too much serious and thinking (as they think) and to be serious and smiling is smth opposite to each other (we think and are mistaken).

:)

But again things are changing!


In Moscow there are no that many smiling faces :( So when you are smiling you are getting more appealing comparing with others and get too much attention especially from men's side. Could be annoying. Often russian men dont bother to keep the distance.

Gypsy
05-08-2010, 19:13
Another proverb would offer a different perspective..."if you want someone to be your friend, allow them to do you a favor"

Completely right. I have always believed that people love helping each other whenever they can. They feel good when they do.

People are inherently good and friendly and helpful.

trancophile
05-08-2010, 20:13
In Moscow there are no that many smiling faces :( So when you are smiling you are getting more appealing comparing with others and get too much attention especially from men's side. Could be annoying. Often russian men dont bother to keep the distance.

I don't care about what is acceptable here or not. I smile when I want and people often tell me they like my smile.

If I see a pretty girl I make eye contact and I smile and if I am close enough, I give her a simple "Hi" and she instantly knows I am a foreigner and therefore exempt from all the backward social governances.

Also, remember, good teeth make a great smile!

jknig4
11-08-2010, 02:10
I was waiting in line at a store and before I could put my groceries on the belt, a woman shoved her way in front of me and put her items in front of mine. I calmly picked up her items and moved them back and made room for my own. She wasn't rude, I think it's just part of that culture shock!

xSnoofovich
11-08-2010, 10:46
One of the first problems I encountered was with bedding. I was given this top sheet with a hole in the center. I was unsure of what to do- but ! later on, I was told that I should put my blanket there, since how else would I keep my blanket clean?

annasophia
11-08-2010, 12:30
I think for most expats the sheer brutality of Moscow is overwhelming.
I have seen people beaten, I have seen abuse, I have seen brutality in public which would not be tolerated in most places. And I have seen Muscovites walk right by all of it as though nothing were happening.

A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind.

It's the thuggishness of Moscow that warps the spirit and sends expats fleeing. Really Russia, there is nowhere else quite like you. :5387:

franzewich
11-08-2010, 12:58
... A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. ... :5387:


To many of us expats Moscow has not been the first step abroad. Those of us who have been in Bangalore, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, plus in some real Third World countries, Moscow - sorry to say that - is nothing extraordinary, really! Which does not mean that there would not be room for lots of improvement.

Of course it is not pretty, but that's just the reality of life, which we all have to face. No reason to lament about it. And a dead corpse may also lay around on the streets in New York City for a day before somebody removes it.

But Moscow and the Russians have taught me a lot. About happiness in life, for example. About being content with simple, or little - or immaterial - things. What real friendship means. Things, which we have long lost in our so called "civilized" Western World.

pjw
11-08-2010, 13:00
My parents just finished their first visit to Moscow.

They did really well, I feel, because there are specific places, public transport, metro, marshrutka, which have an absence of English so it can perhaps be a bit daunting at first.

Dad told us all a funny story. You need to keep in mind that he's old, a bit overweight and clumsy and slow. Plus he loses money out of his pocket. Him and my mum were in the marshrutka and a guy hands him a hundred. Dad, thinking he'd dropped it on the floor, takes it and, overwhelmed by Russian honesty and genuinely touched, profusely thanked the man, then put the bill in his pocket. Then the man gave him another hundred. Dad thanked the guy again - SPA - SI - BO and started laughing really loudly as he does when he's uncomfortable or embarrassed by his clumsiness etc and smiled satisfied at my mum. Some loud shouting from some women behind and it was evident that something was wrong. Credit to my mum and dad, they somehow got the payment system pretty quick after that. Maybe the others on the bus had a laugh at two funny tourists, I don't know.

Gypsy
11-08-2010, 13:08
I think for most expats the sheer brutality of Moscow is overwhelming.
I have seen people beaten, I have seen abuse, I have seen brutality in public which would not be tolerated in most places. And I have seen Muscovites walk right by all of it as though nothing were happening.

A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind.

It's the thuggishness of Moscow that warps the spirit and sends expats fleeing. Really Russia, there is nowhere else quite like you. :5387:

I was coming out of a bar having watched a World Cup game and took the cut through to the metro. This is full of restaurants, it is at Pushkinskaya. I saw and heard a crowd, lots of shouting, and it became clear that three men were kicking the shit out of some poor guy on the ground. His friends kept trying to help but were beaten back, and two women with them were screaming hysterically. I would stress that the guy on the ground was offering no resistance, I think he was unconscious but the 3 guys just took it turns giving him a good kicking.

Most people in the crowd did nothing just stood and watched. It was sickening.

FlakeySnowballer
11-08-2010, 13:19
The problem is that Moscow is overfilled with non-educated freaks from regions and CIS countries. These people don't want neither studying no working. They have only one desire -to find a sponsor, desirable a foreign sponsor, because they think that every foreigner will be happy to take her (his) to his own country...

Most people think that russian are not smiley because of those people, as i said freaks have a bad manners.

BTW how to know if he (she) a freak or not. It is quite easy to do. Freaks never put smile on their face (they can do it only if they see that you are a foreigner). Freaks never say you "hi" in the elevator for instance.

FlakeySnowballer
11-08-2010, 13:37
Apologies - I was being positive, sorry I didn't make that clear.

That's my point - they did love me for it, and I was always made to feel welcome afterwards.

They could not have been more helpful after that.

Gypsy they don't like you not because you put smile on your face, they don't like you because you are a foreigner

Gypsy
11-08-2010, 14:29
Gypsy they don't like you not because you put smile on your face, they don't like you because you are a foreigner
Well, maybe.

But they liked me afterwards - they could not do enough for me, fetching things I'd forgotten, for example; and with smiles.

La Chica
11-08-2010, 15:21
A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind.

It's the thuggishness of Moscow that warps the spirit and sends expats fleeing. Really Russia, there is nowhere else quite like you. :5387:

I don’t think this particular situation happened because the Russians are cruel, unfeeling or don’t care of anybody in difficult situation.

This reminded me of some physiological phenomenon called “the principle of social prove” (literal translation from Russian since I don’t know the right name in English). It says that people’s behavior in the majority of situation is nothing but the following the usual pattern set up by breeding, education, experience, cultural requirements, etc. This means that in usual circumstances our actions are mainly automatic and triggered by some standard irritant. It is not bad since it helps us to save energy and let it be used for some other activity. But if a person enters to an unusual situation, there is no any set patterns how to behave. And what’s a person next thing to do? Right, to look around and to see what other people are doing in the same situation and imitate them. For example, it often happens to me while driving a car in unknown place. If I’m not sure about road signs or traffic lane markings – in 90% of case I would do as other drivers do since they are the majority and majority can not be wrong :-).

The same might have occurred in the case with dead body - everyone looked around, saw the others doing nothing (while they were also looking around with the same purpose), decided that nothing special had happened (or help was on a way since there were others around) and just passed away!

There are numerous reports that people died, were injured or even killed in the sight of dozens of people and nobody helped being sure that it wasn’t serious or some other would help. And it has nothing with cruelty, mainly with uncertainty and fear to look like a fool.

As for Russian, I think, we more that other nations are influenced by common values, authorities, etc. and were taught year by year not to have our own point of view. So in unusual situations we are quite unlikely to set our own mind and prefer just to follow the majority :-(.

asergeeva
11-08-2010, 17:42
... Credit to my mum and dad, they somehow got the payment system pretty quick after that. Maybe the others on the bus had a laugh at two funny tourists, I don't know.

Great story! I can imagine the situation! Hope your parents was OK after they understood everything! ))

martpark
11-08-2010, 19:26
A few months back I bought new headphones and was trying them out with my 'smart' phone on the Moscow Metro when the train arrived at my stop. As I walked out the door of the metro car as someone walked in and they hooked the headphone cable with their arm. My phone was gone as I stepped onto the platform. I looked at the ground as I walked out then I walked back and look in the metro car and my phone had vanished.

After a moment's confusion, it was then I decided to look on the tracks as the train departed. And there it was looking lonely next to the electric rails. It was one of those days when you are in a rush and my phone had all the numbers I had to call on it.

So I went up to the woman at the gates and explained my situation in 4 words or less. She said wait on the platform. I waited and a young policeman passed. I told him my story but the problem was a train was over the phone, so we had to wait for the train to disappear. He then left and came back with an enormous pole with rubberized pinchers on the end. As deftly as he could he plucked the phone from electrified rail as all the passengers stood around and watched. I gave him my embarrassed gratitude and the passengers start making comments as I swiftly exited the metro station.

Matt24
11-08-2010, 19:50
I think for most expats the sheer brutality of Moscow is overwhelming.
I have seen people beaten, I have seen abuse, I have seen brutality in public which would not be tolerated in most places. And I have seen Muscovites walk right by all of it as though nothing were happening.

A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind.

It's the thuggishness of Moscow that warps the spirit and sends expats fleeing. Really Russia, there is nowhere else quite like you. :5387:

I don't recognise the overwhelming sensation you describe, nor the thuggishness - in all honesty I find Moscow to be remarkably calm, and civilized - I am a large relatively fit white man with some training in self defence - maybe this makes me over confident - but in my travels I have found myself in many much more frightening places.

Matt

MickeyTong
11-08-2010, 20:53
This reminded me of some physiological phenomenon called “the principle of social prove” (literal translation from Russian since I don’t know the right name in English).

"Diffusion of responsibility", or the "bystander effect".

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Kraven Morehead
11-08-2010, 23:35
So the lesson is - to get people to smile and be friendly - make a fool of yourself.

Is that how GWB won all the elections?

Kraven Morehead
11-08-2010, 23:41
I was waiting in line at a store and before I could put my groceries on the belt, a woman shoved her way in front of me and put her items in front of mine. I calmly picked up her items and moved them back and made room for my own. She wasn't rude, I think it's just part of that culture shock!

I just embarrass the hell out of them. One Russian woman did that to me, then I start to make faces like she had an oder problem or she was let off gas. It was funny.

Kraven Morehead
11-08-2010, 23:59
One day I decided to test the Russian smiling rule.

I put on some baggy pants and built from toilet tubes an object that extended 12-15 inches in length. Placed in a manner so it looked like I had a very stiff erection. Went on a busy metro. Kept a dead pan face.

Many Russian women were confering with their friends and smiling and many quick stares. Many men were doubting themselves and want to stay away from the lochness monster.


But the rule is if you are smiling then you are drunk or stupid or both.

franzewich
12-08-2010, 01:17
... yes, there are some differences, compared to "back home"!

One day, I had been in Moscow less than a year, I invited a colleague of mine to visit the Kremlin with me.

I suggested to meet at the Alexandrovskij Garden. And, stupidly, I tried to use my very poor Russian! She burst out in laughter - and I was confused and really upset.

What had happened? Well, back home in Germany, it does not matter how we pronounce an "S"! Whether "voiced" or not - it does not alter the meaning! I had, innocently, invited her not to the "Alexandrovskij Sssad", but to the "Alexandrovskij Zzzad" - to "Alexander's Butt"!

Well, we learn best from the mistakes which we make ourselves!

sweetfart
12-08-2010, 06:33
The access to free toilets was the most difficult for me. Seriously. There were two times when I was so drunk and didn't have change in my pocket so I ended up peeing on myself. So embarrassing. lol

sashadidi
12-08-2010, 09:37
quote"A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind."

try Africa one week for a body no problem

trancophile
12-08-2010, 10:12
I've seen so many lifeless people lying about that I can never tell if they are dead or not and I'm not willing to go find out.

annasophia
12-08-2010, 10:31
quote"A good friend of mine once told me that you really haven't experienced Moscow till you've seen your first dead body. It took a year before I experienced that, but sure enough at the Metro across the street there lay one. All day. No one paid it any mind."

try Africa one week for a body no problem

You're comparing Russia to Africa?
Well, all right then. :devil:

Uyanga
12-08-2010, 16:58
So the lesson is - to get people to smile and be friendly - make a fool of yourself.

Oh, please don`t make such conclusion! Russian people mostly are kind and friendly to foreigners. I think, those people in AP simply didn`t know any words in english. They were a bit frightened, because you were unknown to them. That`s why they didn`t answer your smile. And also I want to say that sometimes it is really funny to look like a fool. Good luck and don`t worry of such funny situations. And congratulations for finding your passport and visa. You are really lucky! :10475:

La Chica
12-08-2010, 17:47
I've seen so many lifeless people lying about that I can never tell if they are dead or not and I'm not willing to go find out.

Well, almost the same you can observe in Key West, USA. I was terrified by the number of homeless people lying all around without a single move unless they saw a tourist and begged for money :-). However they looked much happier than their Russian “colleagues”.

Gypsy
12-08-2010, 17:48
Oh, please don`t make such conclusion! Russian people mostly are kind and friendly to foreigners. [/QUOTE} That is exactly what I have found, except for one or two people, no more.
[QUOTE]
I think, those people in AP simply didn`t know any words in english. They were a bit frightened, because you were unknown to them. That`s why they didn`t answer your smile. I am sure that was it. I think we are saying the same thing - maybe my explanation was poor - they did not laugh at me, and certainly did not do so because i made a fool of myself.

What happened was that because I had been foolish, they saw me as more human and it broke down the barrier that was there. As I said - afterwards they were incredibly helpful - really more than they should have been on occasion.


And also I want to say that sometimes it is really funny to look like a fool. Good luck and don`t worry of such funny situations. And congratulations for finding your passport and visa. You are really lucky! :10475:
Thanks.

La Chica
12-08-2010, 18:09
... I had, innocently, invited her not to the "Alexandrovskij Sssad", but to the "Alexandrovskij Zzzad" - to "Alexander's Butt"!



One of my English teachers (he was from US) told us, his students, the similar story. He rented a flat and time to time had to communicate with his landlady. But instead of inviting her to кuhnya (a kitchen) he was persistently pronouncing “khuinya” (~ ****ing shit) :ignore:… The lady was getting red and out of breath while her little grandson was rolling about, crying “say it again, say it again”

sweetfart
12-08-2010, 22:06
Well, almost the same you can observe in Key West, USA. I was terrified by the number of homeless people lying all around without a single move unless they saw a tourist and begged for money :-). However they looked much happier than their Russian “colleagues”.
Well of course, that's where all the homeless people move. That's the golden rule to being a successful bum: move somewhere warm where there's tourists.

Bels
12-08-2010, 22:19
I was waiting in line at a store and before I could put my groceries on the belt, a woman shoved her way in front of me and put her items in front of mine. I calmly picked up her items and moved them back and made room for my own. She wasn't rude, I think it's just part of that culture shock!

Typical Russian I think! And my wife went to England and got the the shock of her life. When in Queue, be in queue! Jump it and you are in serious trouble by a massive mob. But Russians think it is very acceptable to jump quueus here. It can be buses or anywhere. Tht is they way they are, but don't expect it in England, as you must wait your turn like everyone else, AND NO BRIBES!!! As that is illegall!! But not in Russia.

sashadidi
12-08-2010, 23:18
You're comparing Russia to Africa?
Well, all right then. :devil:

Yes and no when i lived in Kenya it was a traffic victum in centre of the city!!
and some other places just seemed to be more accepted not to be in a hurry about anything!!!! espically as its hot there!!!

Paintballer
16-08-2010, 11:57
Keep your stories coming, folks!

At the end of the month we will run a poll to pick the most interesting/funny/dangerous story and Stronghold Security will make an educational film based on this true story, the person to post the best story will be featured in the film and receive a free 1 month Secure Pass card from Stronghold.

What do you think, guys?

MickeyTong
16-08-2010, 12:00
What does a Secure Pass card involve?

FlakeySnowballer
16-08-2010, 12:04
Keep your stories coming, folks!

At the end of the month we will run a poll to pick the most interesting/funny/dangerous story and Stronghold Security will make an educational film based on this true story, the person to post the best story will be featured in the film and receive a free 1 month Secure Pass card from Stronghold.

What do you think, guys?

I bet, you will give a prize to a guy whose father tried not to give money to a bus driver.:10518:

Paintballer
16-08-2010, 14:35
What does a Secure Pass card involve?

With a secure pass you get access to 24/7 concierge hotline (English and Russian) which will provide you with all the info you might need: from booking a hotel room or a restaurant desk, to getting stock market quotes and weather updates.

In addition to emergency response, wherever you feel unsafe, threatened or endangered, you just call for help and one of our security teams will arrive to you within minutes to deal with anything from drunk locals to abusing police officers.

Plus you get legal support and advice via hotline and lawyer that can come to help you 24/7.

Paintballer
06-09-2010, 11:33
Up! Come on guys, is that it? I can't believe the life here is so dull for you all :)