I like the relatively new trend in writing blog posts about how to piss off a [type a nationality, occupation, family member, favourite activity]. I’ve already seen an article with the similar name but I’d like to create my own list of things that have been disturbing me since I came to Estonia. Maybe this list is rather subjective but I still hope that most of my fellow nationals will agree with me on the following points:
- When having a night out, force Russians to drink a shot of vodka, daring them: “Come on, you’re Russian, you have to drink it!”
First, my nationality doesn’t define my taste preferences. Even if it would, does this heavenly drink really taste so good that no gourmand or sommelier would forgive me a missed sip? Second, look for the Finns, Poles, or – even easier – Estonians around, maybe they’ll be more passionate about your offer. Why exactly these nations? Because I have the same stereotype about them as you do about me.
- If you are Russian, ask another Russian who lives in Estonia: “Are Russians beaten up there?”
Indeed, I regularly get my dose of kicks, every day at lunchtime… Seriously, how a grown up, educated person can suggest something like that? When I’m asked about it (surprisingly, it happens quite often), I immediately imagine a Gulag’s train coming to Estonia as to concentration camp; all Russians are taken out from there and sent to a special place where they’re subjected to torture or very hard work without any food provided. Even if some people (and I sometimes meet them) wish it could be the truth, it’s not and can’t be like that in reality. Yes, Estonia is a civilised country; it treats everyone equally regardless of your nationality.
- Ask: “So, do you like Putin?”
No, I do not like Putin. For me it’s like the question about vodka. If I’m Russian, it doesn’t unconditionally mean that I worship the leader of my country. If you really want to know my political stance, reformulate your question. Just don’t ask about Putin anymore, please.
- Assume that we kill gays in Russia.
One of my Russian friends (I send my best regards to her if she recognise herself in this story) seriously was faced with such a situation in Germany, when some person was persuading her that it really takes place in Russia. My first thought was: why is he so sure? Maybe, Putin himself showed him pictures of the publicly hang bodies? My point is, again, the population isn’t always responsible for government’s actions. If our beloved (as most of foreigners tend to think) Putin decides to persecute gay propaganda somehow, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone immediately takes their pitchforks and torches to go and look for gays to subject them to public execution.
- Whistle indoors, come back home if you forgot to take something, or kill a spider.
Every Russian knows that if you whistle indoors, forget something at home and then have to go back to take it, or kill a spider, it’ll inevitably lead to bad luck and empty pockets. I’m personally not superstitious but, strangely enough, I’ve never tried any of these things.
Obviously, it’s a very short and subjective list. At the same time, I believe that Russians are quite flexible in many issues and there are no such things in interpersonal communication, which can get them extremely angry. Maybe, just a little bit annoyed.