What is banned in Russia?

About three months after my arrival in Moscow in 2001, I once went to a canteen to have lunch. I had been learning Russian for about two months and my Russian was very basic. I could understand someone only if she/he spoke very slowly.

At the canteen, one had to take a tray, select the dishes on display and then pay to the cashier sitting at the end of the row of dishes. There was a small queue and as I moved forward to order the dishes, a man came out from the kitchen. He seemed upset and was blurting non-stop. I saw that he was sometimes looking towards me. However, I could not make out if he was unhappy at the workers, addressing someone else in the queue or taking out his frustration, in general. The man went on and on.

After a while, the lady who was serving the dishes looked at me and gestured that I should leave my overcoat at the wardrobe outside. And then the words of the man became clearer. He was ranting that despite the notice outside, visitors came with their overcoats on to the canteen. With the little Russian that I knew, I could not reply to the man. I had not seen the notice either. With my knowledge of Russian, I doubt if I would have understood what the notice meant even if I had seen it.

In any case, I went to the wardrobe, took off my overcoat and joined the queue again, which by now had become much longer. Thus, I had my first experience of what is ‘banned’ in Russia - overcoats inside canteens. However, you are welcome to enter with loads of snow on your shoes.

(Photo source: burobiz.ru)

I soon learnt of other things, which are considered socially forbidden in Russia.

As soon as you entered someone’s house, you had to take off your shoes. If you see a picture like the one below, you can be sure that it is not from a Russian home.

(Photo source: otvet.mail.ru)

If you were invited to a Russian home and ended up without a gift (no matter what) for the hostess or the children, you could be ‘banned’ from invitations in future.

(Photo source: wikiznanie.ru)

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