Wednesday, May 4, 2011

To whom?

To WHOM? (meaning, 'who have you come to visit?') This is often barked at me when I enter Russian establishments. I mean, the kind of establishments that have guards. To be even more precise, certain apartment buildings, and orphanages, and even the Consulate.

I have been grappling with why this is such a strange question for me, as an American.  Do we even demand to know people's business as they arrive? Or is it always something super-polite, as in, "How may I help you?" What question would they ask in other countries around the world?

It used to irk me at the orphanage, and actually it still does, because I'm always ready to say who I am, but then they ask whom I'm looking for. I know I should learn the right answer, but I usually end up saying something like "everyone" or "the children" since I go around to different groups. Really, I'm supposed to say "Group 2," or the counselor's name there. They want to know the name of the person expecting you, and then either they have you wait, or usher you right in.

At the Consulate it's even stranger. Andrei was surprised that they didn't let me in right away and welcome me with open arms like in the movies. I was eventually admitted into the building, and at the inner checkpoint, the officer asked, "KOMY?" Well, I was stumped. Whom on earth would I be visiting at the U.S. Consulate? I echoed the question with a befuddled look and he looked at my passport "Ahhhh, a citizen," and switched into English. No more questions.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the culture differences! Yeah, if someone barked that at us here in the U.S. we'd give them a tongue-lashing back for being rude. We're a very prideful, independent, self-governed people.

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