This is a guest post written my friend who's been in Moscow for the past 5 years. He's the original expat recluse and an expert at offending people of all nationalities. He's also a powerlifting over 40s champion and quite possibly a psychopath.
(If you like this post, or just want to flame the shit out of him, check out his blog at: www.russians-englishman.com)
5 ways to offend a Russian
5. Whistle indoors
Russians are very superstitions. And there is nothing better to wind most Russians up than simply whistling indoors. Try it and see the reaction you get. It can be used as a great weapon in your wind-a-Russian-up arsenal (that's if you're that way out).
The reason - it is said that if you whistle indoors you will become bankrupt. In other words, YOU will lose all your money. That's right, it's the person who whistles who will lose their money, not someone else. But this doesn't matter, whistle indoors and most Russians will flip their lid. Probably, somewhere along the line, Russians have come to equate whistling with simply losing money, regardless of who is doing the whistling or who is doing the losing.
They hate this one. Call your country better than Russia and expect a reaction. In fact, call anything in your country better than the same thing in Russia and they hate that, too.
But this gets tricky, at least it used to for me. How do you answer the often asked question of :
"Do you like it here?"
Which before you have a chance to answer is quickly followed by:
"Surely it's not better than England?"
In the past, I would quickly blurt out:
"No, of course it's not better than England."
Wrong move. As soon as those words "not better" came out I was as good as being on a one-way trip to the last Gulag in Siberia. The one they built especially for foreigners that offend Russians in their own country and to their face.
What the offended didn't wait for though was the follow up:
"No, of course it's not better than England. But, it's not worse either. It's just different. Some things are better there, some here."
And this is true! Some things are better here than there, others definitely not.
They hate this one even more or at least as much. Call your country or its people worse than Mother Russia or Russians and they often get their backs up. Why? By calling yourself worse you are in fact saying you're better in some way. Russians don't like to be beaten. Ever.
Statement: "We drink more than you English!"
Answer: "No you don't actually."
Retort: "Yes we do."
Answer: "No you don't. You drink more vodka and battery acid, but that's about it."
Retort: "You think you're better than us. Just because you're English."
Answer: "No, just giving an honest answer."
Retort: "Pashol ti"
The vast majority of Russians I 've met don't particularly care for their leader. But maybe this isn't a true reflection of Russians as a whole though. Maybe it's just been a coincidence that i've met the ones who don't like him. Who knows? It's difficult to tell. There definitely are many who do like him.
This doesn't mean though that you can necessarily say something bad about him to a Russian's face. Many Russians are patriotic. As in VERY patriotic. And the leader of their country is still THEIR leader. Say something bad about him and expect something like:
"So yours is better is he?" or "What give's you the right to criticize our leader? Get out of our country if you don't like it?"
Fair enough, I suppose. Luckily, I'm not a political person, so the subject rarely comes up.
This one is simply mean, but funny all the same. WARNING: The reaction can lead to violence.
I'm in a gym talking to a guy. It is obvious he doesn't really like foreigners or at the very least has an inferiority complex around them. The conversation goes something like this:
Me - "Not very often. I haven't been back to civilization in ages!" A little smile comes across my face after I say it, presuming the Russian will at least find it amusing. But it doesn't go down too well.
The guy, called Nikolai, doesn't look in the slightest bit amused. His eyes widen, he takes on a stare, his forehead starts bulging. He looks like he's about to kick off. I should say, we aren't the only people here. There is a good few other Russians, too. But I don't really take in their reactions. I'm concentrating on Nikolai, fully expecting a dumbbell to be thrown across the gym at my head. He eventually responds in speech:
Guy - "I'd like to see you say that to some of my friends.They have a meeting once a week in the middle of Perovo Metro station. They're a skinhead group. Say that to them and see what they say. You won't be laughing then."
Oh dear, trust me to be talking to a friend of the local skinhead Kingpin.
Me - "You're a skinhead are you? I laugh, "I hate skinheads." They're weak-minded pieces of shit"
The room is dead quiet. That is except for the breath of Nikolai. I can tell he isn't sure of what to do. Here he is surrounded by his brethren, being basically called a fool to his face by a foreigner.
I, on the other hand, am just standing as calm as can be, with the same stupid smirk I always have. Totally unconcerned with what might become.
But, Nikolai second guesses himself. He turns away and gives a "Huh!"
As for me, well I don't respond. I just start whistling... VERY loudly.
Before you ask, "Pashol ti!" = get lost / piss off