I didn’t understand their culture very well, and getting to be friends was tricky. Then someone saw the water bottle I drank from, a glass bottle that had once held a German mineral water, that I refilled and drank from enthusiastically. I particularly drank from it at long meetings to keep from falling asleep. To whoever saw me, the bottle looked like a vodka bottle.
Rumor spread among the Russians that I drank vodka from the bottle while at work, cultural barriers came down, and friendships developed.