Some reading for the inspiration

Funny and sad, thoughtful and brief, but blogs of expats living in Russia always make me read them. Maybe you'd like that too...

"A question I have asked myself a thousand times about Russia is: why can it be so difficult dealing with people I like so much? I have come to the conclusion that this is a problem of mutual misunderstanding due to asymetrical thinking. This is a result of our languages having a different logic and etiquette. Moscow's main publisher of contemporary Russian literature in English once said to me: "There is no such thing as the 'mysterious Russian soul', only bad translation."
Ian Mitchell, 

"One of the first questions guests have when planning to go to Russia is how to say "Hello". Unhappily, the answer is "Здравствуйте" (pronounced... hmmm, something like Zdravst-voo-tye). The bold guest will make several brave attempts at popular pronunciation before asking the local, "Isn't there another way to say it?". 
The local in question will then invariably mention that you can say "Привет" (Pronounced "pree-vyet", and make it only two syllables, please), which means "Hi", but not "Hello". Our intrepid guest will be happily shocked by this turn of events because he (or she) will immediately recognize that it is easier to say "Pree-vyet" (even if it is only two syllables) than to say "Hello" in Russian which, for some reason, is a sound akin to a controlled sneeze".   
Andy Freska,

"The funny thing about Russia is that foreigners that come here either love it or hate it – rarely do you see any middle ground on this one, but the question is: will you be a lover or a hater?" 

"In the United States it’s common to ask people where they are from and then form an opinion about them based on their answer. I’m originally from Ohio and though I don’t come from a small town I constantly heard jokes about how I grew up on a farm. But in Russia no one knew where Ohio was or what it meant to come from there or what the local stereotypes were. I wasn’t an Ohioan, I was an American.
Like most people, I’d always associated tea with England.  I had no idea that Russians drank so much tea.  While I rarely drank tea on my own, it was something of a social activity at work and I soon found myself mindlessly drinking cup after cup of tea throughout the work day.  At home I never drank tea but always kept some on hand in case I had Russian friends visiting".
JoAnne Stein,

"The metro. On my first trip I didn’t realize that there was a reason all the other people were holding on to the handrails. I realized that only after I became a flying trajectory. Then there were the times that I thought I was transferring lines but instead ended up exiting the metro altogether. It would take me ages to read the signs to figure out where to go and even then my success rate was only marginal. Fast forward a bit. Today I can recognize stations by their appearance, not just by name, and without even looking at the signs I know which escalator will take me to the connecting platform".
Hannah La Luzerne,

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