The Russophile: 101 ways you know that you have been in Russia too long

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 5:51 pm: Edit Post

101 ways you know that you have been in Russia too long

101 ways you know that you have been in Russia too long

101 ways you know that you have been in Russia too long

I received this list in an e-mail which details ways you know that you have been in Russia too long and things that you might do when you go home after spending too much time in Russia. This must have been a list of that people added to the expat list because some of them are very strange. (I know that there are a few missing and there are more than 101, but I left it basically like I received it except for a my comments in dark blue.) Add your comments to the guestbook.

1. You have to think twice about throwing away an empty instant coffee jar.

2. You carry a plastic shopping bag with you "just in case".

3. You say he/she is "on the meeting" (instead of "at the" or "in a" meeting).

5. You answer the phone by saying "allo, allo, allo" before giving the caller a chance to respond.

6. You save table scraps for the cats living in the courtyard.

7. When crossing the street, you sprint.

8. In winter, you choose your route by determining which icicles are least likely to impale you in the head.

9. You are impressed with the new model Lada or Volga car.

10. You let the telephone ring at least 4 times before you pick it up because it is probably a mis-connection or electric fault.

11. You hear the radio say it is zero degrees outside and you think it is a nice day for a change.

12. You argue with a taxi driver about a fare of 30 rubles ($2) to go 2 kilometers in a blizzard.

13. You actually know and CARE whether Spartak won last night. Or Rostelmash if you lived in Rostov-on-Don.

14. You win a shoving match with an old Babushka for a place in line and you are proud of it.

15. You are pleasantly surprised when there is toilet paper in the WC at work.

16. You look at people's shoes to determine where they are from.

17. You automatically hand in your mace at the door before going through a metal detector.

18. You are pleasantly surprised when there is real wine in the bottle of Georgian Kinzamaruli you bought in a kiosk. I will never forget the bottle of red colored rubbing alcohol that I bought with a Kinzamaruli label.

19. You notice that Flathead's cell phone is smaller than yours and you're jealous. I was a Peace Corps volunteer--what cell phone?!?!

20. Your day seems brighter after seeing that goon's Mercedes broadsided by a pensioner's "Moskvich".

21. You are thrown off guard when the doorman at the nightclub is happy to see you.

22. Your not sure what to do you when the "GAI" (traffic cop) only asks you to pay the official fine.

23. You wonder what the tax inspector really wants when she says everything is in order.

24. You give a 10% tip only if the waiter has been really exceptional. I had a waitress chase me down because she thought that I had left my change.

25. You plan your vacation around those times of the year when the hot water is turned off.

26. You are relieved when the guy standing next to you on the bus actually uses a handkerchief.

27. You are envious because your expat friend has smaller door keys than you have. Keys can double as self-defense weapon.

28. You ask for no ice in your drink.

29. You start using "da" instead of "yes".

30. You go mushroom and berry picking out of necessity instead of recreation.

31. You develop a liking for beets.

32. You begin to socialize with your driver and/or your cleaning lady. This one must have been added by a Brit. We know that he or she didn't have a real conversation or else the real surprise about socializing with such a person would have been the intelligent conversation about literature or art. For example, the secretary in my office saw my screensaver with paintings from the Tretekov Gallery and could name the painter and name of every painting that came up on the screen.

33. You know what Dostoyevsky's favorite color was.

34. You start to believe that you're a character in a Tolstoi novel.

35. You know seven people whose favorite novel is "The Master and Margarita".

36. You change into tapki (slippers) and wash your hands as soon as you walk into your apartment.

37. You take a trip to Budapest and think you've been to heaven.

38. You start thinking of black bread as a good chaser for vodka. So are pickles. :)

39. You drink the brine from empty pickle jars.

40. You can read bar-codes, and you start shopping for products by their country of production.

41. You begin to refer to locals as "nashy" (ours). Our they start to refer to you as nash.

42. 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.

43. Your coffee cups habitually smell of vodka.

44. You know more than 60 Olgas.

45. You give you business card to social acquaintances.

46. You wear a wool hat in the sauna.

47. You put the empty bottle of wine on the floor in a restaurant.

48. You are rude to people at the airport for no reason.

49. You have to check your passport for an arrival-in-Russia date.

50. 'Remont', 'pivo' and 'nalivai' become integral parts of your vocabulary.

51. You've been to Tallinn at least a dozen times for visas.

52. You are curious as to when they might start exporting Baltika beer to your home country.

53. Cigarette smoke becomes 'tolerable'.

54. You think metal doors are a necessity.

55. You changed apartments 6 times in 6 months.

56. You no longer feel like going to your "home" country.

57. You speak to other expats in your native language, but forget a few of the simplest words and are forced to throw in some Russian ones.

58. You remember how many kilos you weigh - but forget how many pounds.

59. A gallon of gasoline or milk seems like a foreign concept.

60. You no longer miss the foods you grew up with, and pass them up at foreign-owned supermarkets.

61. You actually enjoy shopping at the rynok, and you think that Ramstore is the most advanced supermarket you've ever been to.

62. You think that the Manezh is a real shopping mall.

66. You look for kvas and kefir in the supermarket, and ask to buy half a head of cabbage.

68. You don't feel guilty about not paying on the trolley.

69. You can sleep through a hangover without curtains on your windows.

70. The elevator aroma seems reassuring somehow.

71. You no longer think washing clothes in the bathtub is an inconvenience.

72. You can heat water on the stove and shower with it in under 10 minutes.

73. You have to take E S L lessons before you go home.

75. 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.

76. The sellers at the rynok start calling you by your patronymic only.

77. You have had your clothes ruined by all the so-called Western style dry cleaners and have to start the cycle over again.

78. You bring your own scale and calculator to the market to make sure the amount you are charged is correct.

79. When you know the Moscow Metro better than you know the subway system back home.

80. A weekend anywhere in the Baltics qualifies as a trip to the West.

81. You start buying Russian toilet paper.

82. You sit in silence with your eyes shut for a few moments before leaving on any long journey.

83. You look in the mirror to turn away bad luck if you have to return home to pick something up you've forgotten.

84. You catch yourself whistling indoors and feel guilty.

85. You never smile in public when you're alone.

86. 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.

87. When you save tea-bags of Yorkshire Tea brought over specially from home to use for a second cuppa later....

88. When 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).

89. When that strange pungent mix of odours of stale sawdust, sweat and grime in the metro makes you feel safe and at home....

92. You get wildly offended when you are asked to pay at the coatcheck. 94. You are afraid of offending someone by asking them what they do for a living. I can't remember how many men I met who said (or claimed) that they couldn't tell me what they do.

93. You cross yourself on the number 7.

95. (For women) When you dress up in your best outfits for work and ride the metro.

96. When the word "salad" ceases for you to have anything to do with lettuce.

97. When mayonnaise becomes your dressing of choice.

98. You can recite in Russian all the words to all the tampon (OK OB, etc.) and chewing gum commercials. And even worse--to stupid pop songs.

99. 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.).

100. You get excited when the dentist smiles and has all his own teeth.

101. You can spark a debate by asking for a decent Mexican restaurant.

102. You do all your shopping at kiosks.

103. You judge the strength of your local Mafia clan by the availability of Planters Cheese Balls.

104. You voluntarily take a stroll in the park, Baltica beer in hand, on a sub-zero day.

105. You laugh at Russian jokes.

106. You actually get these jokes.

107. When you realise 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 be able to fit back in in the old country....

When you go back to the "home country":

109. You think it's too hot, no matter what season you return.

110. You specify "no gas" when asking for mineral water.

111. Your friends have to keep reminding you that the word is "restroom", not "toilet".

112. You are dumbstruck 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...

113. You tip very little, even for great service.

114. You try pay a traffic fine one the spot and get arrested for attempted bribery.

115. You look for kvas and kefir in the supermarket, and ask to buy half a head of cabbage.

116. You are surprised to see that the cooks in a Chinese restaurant are actually Chinese.

117. You get bored with the pace and organization around you, and can't wait to get back to Russia.

118. You see a car behind you with flashing lights and think it's some politician.

119. You are in awe that after 3 days home your shoes are still clean.

120. You are insolent to people for leaving their jackets on when entering restaurants, etc.

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By Jason Gardenier on Wednesday, October 01, 2003 - 2:59 am: Edit Post

121. you return home and are amazed to see trash cans--everywhere.

122. You actually like Russian Pizza.

123. You aren't at all surprised by the occasional garbage fire.

123. You return home and are bored by your relatively plain pedestrian signs.

124. You aren't surprised by the occasional stray dog on the trolley.

125. You return home and are surprised when English grafitti occasionally makes sense.

126. When buildings around Krasnaya Ploshad' don't remind you of fairy tales and the Seven Sister building do not, the slightest bit, resemble wiazrd castles.

127. You are impressed with the selection of music in a Russian Music store.

128. When you no longer look for conventional street signs, but instead at building signs.

129. You return home and take one rose out of the dozen before giving it to people.

130. (females only) You don't sit on the ground for fear of becoming sterile.

131. you laugh at the ridiculous sight of a toilet in a dacha.

132. You pass up a bus and wait for a trolley so not to waste the 1.5 rubles.

133. You regularly scratch your jaw in reference to drunkenness.

134. When you return home and feel the need to shout "gor'ko" at weddings.

135. When you wonder why there aren't any Pushkin Squares in your home cities.

136. You no longer bat an eye when a man is walking down the street with his hand up his girlfriend's shirt/ on her butt.

137. You honestly think a Russian hotel room is very luxurious.

138. When it you can't rember what peanut butter tastes like and it kills you, then you remember and eat some tvorog.

139. You feel you would die without blini and bonchiki.

140. You think of crows as birds that are half white half black.

141. You return home and are awestruck by the fact that all the streets have lines.

142. You know some songs at the disco by heart.

143. You feel a tacit kindredness with the unsmiling people on the streets.

144. It looks like restoran and not pektopah.

145. You think what this is funny.

By Payvand ( on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 2:00 pm: Edit Post

146. You never throgh your cloths out even if theyr riped, you say "maybe somday somone will buy it from me , maybe i can give it to someone"

By Payvand ( on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 2:01 pm: Edit Post

146. You never throgh your cloths out even if theyr riped, you say "maybe somday somone will buy it from me , maybe i can give it to someone"

By Rus ( - on Sunday, May 02, 2004 - 8:24 pm: Edit Post

Kind of funny, but 90% of the jokes are about times 10 or more years ago. That's a different era :) Now you'd be surprised how much of that old bears-on-the-streets-of-moscow style crap is no longer applicable. Some stuff still valid though, but I will not tell you what :) Come to Russia and see

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 11:39 pm: Edit Post

Uh, Rus, I go back nearly every year and I would say that more than 90% still apply. Most of the items are "cultural" such as not smiling and the not giving an even number of flowers. That stuff is not going away in the next 100 years. A few that I can can think of that don't apply... You can now get paketi (plastic bags) at most all stores free. You can now get a decent meal in Moscow, but it is still expensive. And thank goodness the governemnt is finally starting to do something about counterfiting because the fake Kinzamaruli and vodka was killing lots of people. (Eight years ago, we had to have a lesson from the medical officer when I was there on how to tell if vodka was fake because you HAD to check every bottle from kiosks.)

By Valentinovna ( - on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 12:48 pm: Edit Post

I've just left Moscow, and reading this really took me back. I want to go home!

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