ALL SMILES

You spot them, can’t you? The Foreigners. Maybe not at The Met/ Eiffel Tower/ Westminster/Vatican, because you expect them to be there, because you presume they all are, so you aren’t paying particular attention. But walking down the street in an inconspicuous neighborhood? Yes, you can.

I live in a central, not touristy but expat-heavy, part of Moscow, and I can tell right away. It’s not their clothes, or their faces, or even audible conversation in a foreign language. It’s their pleasantness.

I went on a neighborhood stroll this afternoon, camera in tow. I was photographing church domes and windows of old buildings. Fairly high up, all of them. And yet, They stopped. To make sure They didn’t interfere with the shot. Even though a giraffe could walk by and not get in the frame. They could tell, of course – I was aiming really high. But, just in case, They stopped. And smiled, when They caught my eye. Waited for me to wave them off, politely, to indicate that really, it’s no problem, they can keep walking, they weren’t interfering. Then They nodded and smiled again, before proceeding.

This is why, though Russian-born, I feel like a foreigner in my Motherland. Because, God forbid, there’s someone trying to take a photo in the middle of my path anywhere. I will stop dead in the tracks until they are done, and, more often than not, will offer, unprompted, to take a picture of them with whichever sight they are photographing.

And smile.

Some photos from my walk-about:

Old neighborhood off of the Petrovsky boulevard. In the center - the bells of the Church of Sergius (Sergey) of Radonezh, a major Russian Orthodox saint.

Old neighborhood off of the Petrovsky boulevard. In the center – the bells of the Church of Sergius (Sergey) of Radonezh, a major Russian Orthodox saint.

Vysoko-Petrovsky (High-St. Peter's) Monastery & neighborhood

Vysoko-Petrovsky (High St. Peter’s) Monastery and neighborhood.

Vysoko-Petrovsky (High St. Peter's monastery) in the Petrovka neightborhood.

Vysoko-Petrovsky (High St. Peter’s) Monastery in the Petrovka neighborhood.

Windows in the old Russian Terem style, Vysoko-Petrovsky (High St. Peter's) Monastery and neighborhood.

Windows in the old Russian Terem style, Vysoko-Petrovsky (High St. Peter’s) Monastery and neighborhood.

Moscow: a study in contrasts. Algerian flag and Vysoko-Ptrovsky Monastery.

Moscow: a study in contrasts. Algerian flag and Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “ALL SMILES

  1. Look at you, camera in tow! Love those churches.

    I have gotten less polite and American as time’s gone on, but I’m definitely still way too friendly/polite.

  2. In Minnesota, I keep wishing they would Paint It a Color. How many beige, putty, dun, or otherwise dirt-colored buildings does one need in a landscape that’s covered in snow nearly half the year? I keep citing Russian architecture by way of counterexample, hence looking forward to more colorful pictures…

    • I think brightly colored buildings is Russia’s our only recourse against the Never-ending Winter and the months that surround it. Request noted!

  3. pretty, pretty photos! i love all of the color…makes me want to visit russia! it’s so true..the tourists. when i want to pretend im an actual local, i consciously speak and smile less…it’s hard being a local!

  4. Pingback: ON MAGNETIC STORMS AND POLITE CONVERSATION | Home & Away

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s