View Full Version : The funniest thing that's happened to me in Moscow...

11-03-2004, 08:59
The other day I was in the elevator (not the lift,) riding from the 20th floor down to the 1st and listening to my cd player. About on the 5th or so, the elevator stoppes and a middle aged man gets on. As soon as he entered, he said something to me. Of course, since I was listening to my player, I had no idea what it was. I then removed the earphones and asked him to repeat it. He takes a step forward and SHOUTS, "Up or down?" I start laughing a little bit and he takes another step forward and shouts even louder, "Up or down?" I start laughing even harder and tell him, in English, "Dude, the earphones are out and I can hear just fine." So he then takes another step forward and is SCREAMING, "Up or down?" He is less than 1 foot away screaming at the top of his lungs at me and all I can do is give him the Shhhhh! I finally manage to get out a, "Down," in Russian, but at about this time the elevator starts back down on its own and I laugh at the guy until we get off on the 1st floor. He saw nothing funny at all about it and that made it even funnier for me. Maybe because I used to do the same thing when dealing with the Russians when I first got here. It's pretty funny when the tables are turned...

11-03-2004, 10:50
Well, I think New York folks are no better. It's a big city after all, people tend to go nuts. Give em a smile, pal!

Pussy Cat
11-03-2004, 10:51
How long are you here?

I am sure that really funny things are yet to come:D:p

11-03-2004, 11:20
This seems a lot like a situation I saw in DC many years ago. I was standing at a bus stop and another guy walks up to what is obviously a foreign tourist and asks "does this bus go to Georgetown?" The foreigner, who I guess spoke little or no English, responded only with an "not understand English". So this guy asks again louder and slower... "Does This Bus Go to Georgetown??!?" Again no response. So next he SCREAMS very SLOWLY, "DOES...THIS...BUS...GO...TO...GEORGETOWN!?!?" As if suddenly by speaking louder, this poor idiot foreigner would see the light and begin speaking English fluently. I suppose I could have told him that the bus didn't go anywhere near Georgetown, but he was so rude to this foreigner I kept my mouth shut and let him get on the bus.

BTW -- nice new avatar Pussy Cat! :) It's a great pic.

11-03-2004, 11:29
True story. Happened to me four years ago when I first got here.

“Do you speak English?”

Well I’d been an American tourist in Moscow for
almost two weeks and I still couldn’t speak Russian.
My goal was not to be a tourist at all and of course
that meant learning to speak the language. Now I
didn’t expect to be fluent by this time but I thought
that if I put myself into some sort of a total
immersion program I would pick up the basics rather
quickly. I knew the Cyrillic alphabet would give me an
additional challenge but I was not prepared for words
with five or six consecutive consonants as well as
words with absolutely no vowels at all not to mention
sentences without verbs. So my standard greeting
became, “Excuse me. Do you speak English?”

So I was walking down a street in Moscow and a man
with a thick British accent asked me if I spoke
English. I was quite surprised because this was
supposed to be my question. I replied simply "Yes I
do". He then asked me if I knew where the metro
(subway) was. I had just come from the metro so I gave
him very clear and concise directions on how to get
there. He was very pleased and thanked me profusely. I
suspect he had been lost for quite some time and being
extremely grateful he then decided to reward me with a
compliment. "Your English is very good,” he said. I
could not resist the temptation so I asked what many English speaking Russians had been asking me, "How is my
accent?" At this point he seemed to become embarassed and apologetic and
said, "Well your grammar is excellent but you sound
like a bloody American".

11-03-2004, 11:30
Originally posted by vanross
Well, I think New York folks are no better. It's a big city after all, people tend to go nuts. Give em a smile, pal!

Where did New York warrant a bash in this thread?

11-03-2004, 11:46
JD That is possibly the funniest post I have seen :)

11-03-2004, 11:53
Once while here on a business trip I was staying at the President Hotel on Bolshaya Yakimanka (a hotel built in the 80s for foreign diplomats and dignitaries and strictly an MVD hangout as it still is today -- safest hotel to stay in anywhere in Moscow) and went to use the computers in the Business Center. The girl working behind the counter had gotten to recognize me because I was there a couple of times a day, but always spoke Russian to her although she spoke English quite well as a requirement for her job. One day she heard me speaking English to another guest and afterwards asked me, "Where did you learn to speak such good English?" I replied, "At the Army Language School," smiling to myself for pulling her leg. "Which one, ours or theirs?" "Theirs," I said smiling mysteriously, leaving her absolutely baffled as to who I really was...

11-03-2004, 12:00
Bookie, you is da man!!!

11-03-2004, 12:13
Johnny Reb,

Which reminds me, when are those expat claimants to fluent Russian going to meet for lunch? There were only three of us who responded last week before you were attacked by a case of the Creeping Mung. Got time next week?

11-03-2004, 12:17
Love to next week, but I'll have to get back to you Monday. Gotta' turn in another SSN application at the USEmb for my daughter, which who knows how long will take me from the office. We clock-punching drones have to make up every second we spend un-handcuffed to our desks. :D

11-03-2004, 12:40
I was at the Tretyakov gallery a few years back and a bus load of senior citizens from the USA had just dropped by for a wee after breakfast stroll around the gallery. On hearing that I spoke to my friends in English one American came up to me and said "You also speak English Ma'am. Where are you from?" Without giving it a second thought "Wales" I retorted.

'And in which State is that in?" came the reply.:D :D :D

11-03-2004, 12:41
You Yanks crack me up :p:D :D

11-03-2004, 15:02
I was meeting a Russian girl at Heathrow airport. Her mother asked me to do it and drive her to the family where she would stay during the language course.

Anyway, since I did not know the girl, I prepared one of those lame cardboards with her name on it. So I stand there with Tatyana(name) BorisOvich(surname) written in big letters. Aeroflot flight landed and the whole bunch of people with SVO on their luggage started flowing out the Arrivals. One of the passengers, a bulky lady of about 60, comes up to me, points at the board and shouts at the top of her lungs in Russian "It's not Borisovich, it's Borisovna (Russian female middle name), you moron!". Everyone starts looking at me and smile. She, glad for telling off one of the stupid Brits, starts to walk away. I am quite embarrased, so I turn after her and say loudly in clear Russian with the Moscow accent: "It's not a middle name, it's a surname, you stupid cow!".

Have yo ever seen a fat 60-year old lady run 100 m with a roller suitcase in tow? Dawn French eat your heart out, I thought I'd piss myself! As did a couple of other Russian spectators :)

11-03-2004, 15:54
I had many an interesting adventure in Vladivostok. People are a bit friendlier there towards foreigners (at least non-Chinese or North Korean foreigners) than in Moscow. I got several free taxi rides just for being a guest of the city. But sometimes, that friendliness just doesn't come over the right way....

A large US naval ship was docked in the Vlad port, and the sailors were wandering around town. One pair, a man and a woman, are standing a few feet away from me on a corner when a car stops in front of them. The driver pokes his head out the window and says to the uniformed sailors, with a thick Russian accent, "You are Americans?"

"Uh, yeah...."

"GET IN MY CAR!!! Get in my car!! GET IN MY CAR, I SHOW YOU MY CITY!!"

No kind refusal would be accepted – these folks were to be given a tour of the city. He gets out, opens the door, pulls at the sailor's arms trying to get them into the car. The poor driver (probably) really wanted to show these sailors around. The poor sailors thought that they were in the middle of an attempted kidnapping!

11-03-2004, 18:56
Applause to J.D. but I still think the ending was a bit affected.

11-03-2004, 19:04
What follows I posted earlier at another spot, but I think, this is the proper place for it. Not very funny, actually, a case of pure agression.

Stefania, may be this story helps you stop being logical about the OVIR policies and other stuff. Yesterday I was waiting to meet my friend at a location on the subway. He was running about 15 minutes late and suddenly I heard one of the three sturdy women in blue metro uniforms standing nearby yell at me: "Young man you've been pacing here for a long time already!!!". I couldn't help smiling and said in Russian: "What do you want of me?" I hadn't finished talking when she cried at the top of her lungs: "Shall I call the POLICE!!!!". I went on walking back and forth and all three of them left, I suppose to drag the cop in. My friend came and we left, so the story lacks a fiery ending, but nevertheless...