The Questions We Answer

As a Russian-American, I’m used to answering questions about Russia. Most of them are mundane, revolving around the same theme: how much does it cost to buy this or that in Russia? Apartment prices usually attract the bulk of the attention. My notion that these prices can dramatically vary between Moscow and, say, a small city in Siberia, usually meets with an incredulous stare. A claim that most Americans wouldn’t afford to buy an apartment in some neighborhoods in Moscow stuns many people.
There are, of course, questions about politics. After being asked a zillion times what I think about Putin, I now deliver a response as polished as a professional elevator pitch. (I can’t repeat it here.) I also remember a question that made me almost speechless: “Was your last czar (Nicolas II) also president?” Hmm, no, he was not.
This time of the year, questions turn to Thanksgiving. Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Russia, and if not, why? My honest attempts to argue that Thanksgiving is rooted in events in American history that had never happened in Russia usually go nowhere; my interlocutors seem to feel that I’m simply dodging the question.
So, one day, I decided to try something different. When asked, by an academically looking gentleman at a party, why they do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Russia, I answered: “Because the Russian government is so incompetent that it can’t provide a turkey to every Russian family.” The gentleman nodded approvingly, visibly impressed with the depth of my analysis.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and colleagues!

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About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is the Founder of (WoC)2, an innovation consultancy that helps organizations extract maximum value from the wisdom of crowds by coordinated use of internal and external crowdsourcing.
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