Thursday, December 16, 2010

Disturbia (by Holly)

Russians don’t feel the same societal pressure to be friendly or happy towards strangers as we do here in the U.S.  We seem to be all about having a positive front no matter what, whereas the Russian will just tell you how it is.  If they had a bad day they are not going to tell you that everything is great.  Where Americans try to talk away awkwardness, Russians simply do not make eye contact, or hold your eyes until you feel you must look away.   

This is perhaps partly why in the metros and streets of St. Petersburg, there is limited eye contact and little random conversation with strangers.  My fellow volunteers and I were advised to be quiet on the metros so as not to be disturbers of the peace with our loud American ways.  One night on our way home my group was split so we were seated facing each other on the metro.  On those long, quiet rides home we would all put in our headphones, choose the same song and try to start it at the same time so we could rock out together.   

The choice of the evening (and many evenings before) was Rihanna’s Disturbia. 1, 2, 3, go. We started the song together and bobbed our heads to the “bum bum beedum bum bum beedum bum…”  A few shifty Russian eyes looked our way but they pretended like they weren’t paying attention.  

The song was just getting good when the Russian man sitting next to Kim violated the social norms we were trying so hard to fit!  He took an earphone out of her ear, stuck it in his own and began bobbing along to the bum bum beedum!  Rihanna is far too contagious to stay in your head and soon his feet were dancing along the metro floor!  We followed suit and rocked out to Disturbia the rest of the way home.  When we came to his stop, he returned the earphone and waved goodbye.  Dena looked up, and with music tuned far too loud for her to recognize the decibel of her own voice, shouted, “DASVEDANYA!!!!”  I owe gratitude to Rhianna for bridging the culture gap and helping us crack some Russian smiles.

Holly Sumsion  St. Petersburg  2009


Post a Comment