“WHEN an American asks me this question, it’s like a wall of ice crashing down between us.”

The question my Moscow-born friend Galina was referring to had nothing to do with Putin, or Pussy Riot, or the culinary ethics of adding ketchup to your pirogi. And yet, it is the back across which Russian-American relations are broken.

The question in question is, “How are you?”

For The New York Times