Did you know that in Russia, you are not supposed to smile when you meet new people, because a smile is seen as a sign of weakness? I learned this from my Danish friends who moved to Russia six months ago. In Denmark, we have a saying: “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” But perhaps that is the whole point; that Russians prefer to keep a distance until they fell convinced that the stranger means no harm to them. Because once you have broken the ice and established a friendship, Russians can be heartly and all smiles. I wonder if it has to do with a Cossack warrior culture where in earlier times, they had to protect their tribe against strangers, as opposed to trading cultures in other parts of the world which had more focus on welcoming strangers with a view to market opportunities? Just pocket philosophy.
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