Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You live too long in Russia if...

...you don't think things are that bad right now.
...you have to think twice about throwing away an empty instant coffee jar.
...you carry a plastic shopping bag with you 'just in case'.
...you say he/she is 'on the meeting' (instead of 'at the' or 'in a' meeting).
...you answer the phone by saying 'allo, allo, allo' before giving the caller a chance to respond.
...you save table scraps for the cats living in the courtyard.
…when crossing the street, you sprint.
…in winter, you choose your route by determining which icicles are least likely to impale you in the head.
...you are impressed with the new model Lada or Volga car.
...you let the telephone ring at least 4 times before you pick it up because it is probably a misconnection or electrical fault.
...you hear the radio say it is zero degrees outside and you think it is a nice day for a change.
...you argue with a taxi driver about a fare of 30 rubles ($2) to go 2 kilometres in a blizzard.
...you actually know and CARE whether Spartak won last night.
...you win a shoving match with an old babushka for a place in line and you are proud of it.
...you are pleasantly surprised when there is toilet paper in the WC at work.
...you look at people's shoes to determine where they are from.
...you are pleasantly surprised when there is real wine in the bottle of Georgian Kinzamaruli you bought in a kiosk.
...you notice that Flathead's cell phone is smaller than yours and you're jealous.
...your day seems brighter after seeing that goon's Mercedes broadsides by a pensioner's Moskvich.
...you are thrown off guard when the doorman at the nightclub is happy to see you.
...you're not sure what to do when the GAI (traffic cop) only asks you to pay the official fine.
...you wonder what the tax inspector really wants when she says everything is in order.
...you give a 10% tip only if the waiter has been really exceptional.
...you plan your vacation around those times of the year when the hot water is turned off.
...you are relieved when the guy standing next to you on the bus actually uses a handkerchief.
...you are envious because your expatriate friend has smaller door keys than you do.
...you ask for no ice in your drink.
...you go mushroom and berry picking out of necessity instead of recreation.
...you develop a liking for beetroot.
...you know what Dostoyevsky's favourite colour was.
...you start to believe that you're a character in a Tolstoi novel.
...you know seven people whose favorite novel is 'The Master and Margarita'.
...you change into tapki (slippers) and wash your hands as soon as you walk into ...your apartment.
...you take a trip to Budapest and think you've been to heaven.
...you start thinking of black bread as a good chaser for vodka.
...you drink the brine from empty pickle jars.
...you can read barcodes, and you start shopping for products by their country of production.
...you begin to refer to locals as nashi (ours).
…It doesn't seem strange to pay the GAI $2.25 for crossing the double line while making an illegal U-turn, and $35 for a microwaved dish of frozen vegetables at a crappy restaurant.
...your coffee cups habitually smell of vodka.
...you know more than 60 Olgas.
...you give your business card to social acquaintances.
...you wear a wool hat in the sauna.
...you put the empty bottle of wine on the floor in a restaurant.
...you are rude to people at the airport for no reason.
...you have to check your passport for an arrival-in-Russia date.
Remont (repair), pivo (beer) and nalivai (pour!) become integral parts of your vocabulary.
...you've been to Tallinn at least a dozen times for visas.
...you are curious as to when they might start exporting Baltika beer to your home country.
Cigarette smoke becomes 'tolerable'.
...you think metal doors are a necessity.
...you changed apartments 6 times in 6 months.
...you no longer feel like going to your 'home' country.
...you speak to other expats in your native language, but forget a few of the simplest words and throw in some Russian ones.
...you remember how many kilos you weigh — but forget how many pounds.
A gallon of gasoline or milk seems like a foreign concept.
...you no longer miss the foods you grew up with, and pass them up at foreign-owned supermarkets.
...you actually enjoy shopping at the rynok (market), and you think that Ramstore is the most advanced supermarket you've ever been to.
...you think that the Manezh is a real shopping mall.
...you try to pay a traffic fine on the spot and get arrested for attempted bribery.
...you look for kvas and kefir in the supermarket, and ask to buy half a head of cabbage.
...you see a car behind you with flashing lights and think it's some politician.
...you don't feel guilty about not paying on the trolleybus.
...you can sleep through a hangover without curtains on your windows.
The elevator aroma seems reassuring somehow.
...you no longer think washing clothes in the bathtub is an inconvenience.
...you can heat water on the stove and shower with it in less than 10 minutes.
...you do not take off that silly sticker on the sunglasses that you just bought.
...your sister writes to you about the best prime rib she's ever had and you can't remember what it looks or tastes like.
The sellers at the rynok start calling you by your patronymic only.
...you have had your clothes ruined by all the so-called Western style dry cleaners and have to start the cycle over again.
...you bring your own scale and calculator to the market to make sure the amount you are charged is correct.
...you know the Moscow Metro better than you know the subway system back home.
A weekend anywhere in the Baltics qualifies as a trip to the West.
...you start buying Russian toilet paper.
...you sit in silence with your eyes shut for a few moments before leaving on any long journey.
...you look in the mirror to turn away bad luck if you have to return home to pick up something you've forgotten.
...you catch yourself whistling indoors and feel guilty.
...you never smile in public when you're alone.
...you know the official at the metro station/airport/border post/post office/railway station etc. etc. is going to say nyet, but you argue anyway.
...you save tea bags of Yorkshire Tea brought over especially from home to use for a second cup later...
...you go back to England and notice how frosty, unemotional, unsentimental and cold the Brits are and long to return to the warm rush of the Russian dusha (soul).
…When that strange pungent mix of odours of stale sawdust, sweat and grime in the metro makes you feel safe and at home...
...you are in awe that after 3 days home your shoes are still clean.
...you get wildly offended when you are asked to pay at the coatcheck.
...you are afraid of offending someone by asking him or her what they do for a living.
…(For women) When you dress up in your best outfits for work and ride the metro.
When the word 'salad' ceases for you to have anything to do with lettuce.
When mayonnaise becomes your dressing of choice.
...you can recite in Russian all the words to all of tampon and chewing gum commercials.
…When you begin paying attention to peoples' floors and can distinguish the quality of linoleum and/or parquet, and thus determine social status, taste, and income e.g. embezzled, earned, pension, unpaid, etc.)
...you get excited when the dentist smiles and has all his own teeth.
...you can spark a debate by asking for a decent Mexican restaurant.
...you do all your shopping at kiosks.
...you voluntarily take a stroll in the park, Baltika beer in hand, on a sub-zero day.
When pulled over by a policeman, you pretend not to speak Russian and say Ya ne ponedelnik instead of Ya ne ponimayu on purpose.
...you pretend not to speak Russian when you walk in to a restaurant and ask to use their loo without buying anything.
When a streetcab tries to over-charge you, you turn the incident in to an example of how Russia is loosing its dignity in the eyes of the world.
...you are no longer surprised when your taxi driver tells you that before Perestroika he worked as a rocket scientist.
...you laugh at Russian jokes.
...you actually get these jokes.
...you actually spend time writing these jokes!
...you feel queasy when someone tries to shake ...your hand over a threshold.
...you continue to 'cross' the number 7 back at home.
...you think it's too hot, no matter what season ...you return home.
...you specify 'no gas' when asking for mineral water.
...you are dumbstruck back at home when high school or college students wait on ...you with a smile, reciting a 90 second spiel on the 'specials of the day' and display complete knowledge of the contents of each menu item...
...you realize that all the above and the other messages on this subject posted here are what you love about Russia, that you've been here long enough to feel at home and wonder whether you'll ever able to fit back in the old country...




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