Monday, October 8, 2012

Ты меня ненавидишь?

I see it most on Mondays - that pervasive, morose, rigid stare.  Crestfallen faces stare through me on the Metro, from shop windows, in restaurants, and at the Academy.  

Unlike most Americans, Russians don't pretend to be cheerful if they're not.  They go about their daily business projecting a feeling of despondency and isolation.  Russian business people don't greet customers with a smile; they nod and perform their duty.  Sometimes they ask how they can help you "как я вам могу помочь?" but hardly ever with the faux-friendly smile I'm used to.  

In America we try to exude happiness, even when everything is going poorly.  Only when you get to know us are you privy to our troubles and our sadness.  

In Russia, it is the opposite.  Most Russians seem subdued all the time.  When you befriend a Russian, however, you see her smile and laugh. 

Russians don't smile for no reason.  A Russian smile is genuine.  
моя мама в России
It's taken me a few weeks and cross-cultural discussions to realize the value of a Russian smile.  Now I appreciate the lighthearted conversations I have with my host mom all the more.   

1 comment:

  1. I love your description of that "special" Russian smile. The Russian gloominess is something that has always stood out in my mind whenever I would remember my country. When I returned this year, I finally realized exactly what you explained. I'm loving reading about your Russian adventures!