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Contributor, Travel and Transportation, Regions and Cities
"...What I tell you three times is true" (Lewis Carroll, "Hunting of the Snark" ).

Once more about unfriendliness of Moscow

Foreigners note that the Muscovites are rather unfriendly and anxious public. They are always in a hurry and nobody knows how to get to a museum or simply the nearest metro station. The most interesting thing is that almost nobody knows English to answer simple questions. It seems strange that all the habitants of the city have nothing in common except some negative characteristics, informing us what they dont know, dont want, and dont understand. I suppose it is strange when people are characterized by negation only, they must have some describable qualities also. So the Muscovites are to be considered attentively to find out why they are so unfriendly.

1. Gloomy faces

First of all, everybody mentions that the people's faces are bleak (especially in transport). They seem to be peeved by somebody or to feel discomfort. Are they all depressed or hate each other so much, Europeans wonder. In actual fact, these people are not all depressed or so ill-mannered, that demonstrate their negative emotions. The bleak face is a mask associated with some ancient Russian pre-Christian superstitious beliefs. The point is that people shouldnt demonstrate their joy because malign spirits and magicians seeing this can spoil their life because they like doing somebody dirt. When your face looks neutral or, better, bleak they wouldnt be interested in you and spoil your life (Do you remember the emotionless faces of the Japanese? It is something like that, but the Japanese had another reasons to make their mask). But this is a typical Russian feature; you can see it already on the 18th century portraits. It doesnt explain why actually the Muscovites are the most unfriendly public, does it? Very many people really feel discomfort here because they are strangers in this city too. They came to Moscow from their home cities and even former Soviet Republics to work or to study and succeeded, but didnt integrate into the city, because they didnt want to. They consider this big city unnatural and people living there strange or even bad. All the people are enemies for them, except their family if they have it. Very many people living in Moscow are not at home. The Muscovites distinguish them from themselves by the pronunciation and turnout.

2. Disorientation

Secondly, it is rather difficult to find in the street somebody, who tells you how to get to the street you need and doesnt go away with an expression of fear and antipathy on the face. Most people may really dont know something, but some of them are real savages. Those people who moved to the capital to work here often know only the way to their job and a couple of shops. There are people who live and work in different parts of the city, which is really huge, and know only one of the districts well. It is worth to say that almost none of them lives in the centre of Moscow, because it is terribly expensive. They simply have no time to examine the part of the city where they work, because getting home from the centre takes too much time because of the traffic jams. There is only one way out for you: to have a city plan with you (I do in such a way too) or try to identify the real Muscovites in the crowd.

3. They dont speak English

Thirdly, the Russians dont know English well enough to tell some simple things. Frankly speaking, I dont know why it is like that. Maybe it is because most of the Russians use English at the English lessons at school only, so they forget it. Maybe it is a remnant of the Soviet time when all the foreigners were associated with potential danger.

To summarize it, there are some reasons why the Muscovites are so unfriendly. One of them is that lots of of them are not really Muscovites, and moreover, they dont like the Muscovites. The main reason is that most people in the streets are strangers too. Instead of the answer we now have one more question: who are the Muscovites themselves and what do they look like? Are they so unfriendly, too? Do they exist? What specific positive and negative characteristics do they have? Next time I'll try to identify them in the crowd.

June 4, 2009 14:50

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