Moscow - part 2 (continued)

Moscow Travel Blog

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When I think about the 10 weeks I spent under Rick's and Alyona's family's care, a collection of disjointed images comes to mind.  In no particular order:


- Me buying milk and bread for Alyonaâ��s family from people selling them on the streets for a 100% markup (at current rate of 50/1 that's 4 tenths of a penny per loaf vs 2 tenths of a penny), thereby saving me about 3 hours worth of queuing.  And then getting scolded by 'Mama' for wasting good money.  (She stored the milk on the balcony where it froze into a solid block.) 


-Hearing Alyona tell me she had never seen a pineapple until last year during a visit to a hard currency store and seeing the disapproving eyes of Mama when I bought them one at Christmas. 


-Laughing when Alyona raved on and on about the 'invisible' scotch tape I bought her from a hard currency store.

  'You can't even see it'! 


-Shaking my head hearing a friend of Alyona tell me she quit her excellent paying job at McDonalds after a few months because working made her 'tired.'  


-Listening for hours to Alyona's dad play his accordion in the bedroom that I slept in in her tiny flat.  (One of the reasons I spent much of the winter outdoors). 


-Shopping for stamps and pins along Arbat street while eating cone after cone of ice cream in sub-zero weather.


-Browsing at a store that had a large display case selling nothing but unused adhesive numbers.

  Excess military crap?


-Visiting the war museum with Rick and seeing the giant pile of plane parts that was the U2 spy plane flown by Gary Powers and shot down in 1960. 


-Drinking Mama's sweet Russian chai with a preserved plum plopped in it, while she opened up a few small windows in -10 C weather to freshen up the apartment. 


-Me walking through a tunnel at the metro station tracing the smell of rotting flesh to a begger playing an accordion. 


-Watching a lady wearing a shopka slip on a patch of ice and break her jar of pickled vegetables.


-Being wrapped up in a scarf (which I still have) by Mama each time I wanted to leave the house, telling me how HOLODNA (cold) it was outside. 


-Endlessly redialing the international operator to try to call my parents and getting a busy signal because the dozen or so lines were busy. 


- A visit to impressive Zagorsk Monastery north of Moscow with Alyona and many of her friends


Given my circumstances, I had on balance a pretty good time that winter.  It was in stark contrast to most of the country though and I couldn't help but absorb much of pessimism around me at times.

  The Russians have an amazing sense of humor that is dry and sarcastic.  And when they laugh, it is always genuine.  There is a level of public drunkenness too that Iâ��ve never witnessed before (although Finland came close).  Some vodka is sold in quart-sized containers with pop tops that are not resealable.  The intent is that it will be finished off in one sitting.  And it often is.  I remember one time waiting for a train at a metro stop seeing this drunk stagger close to the edge of platform and teetering like heâ��ll fall onto the tracks.  He does this a few times more and finally a train approaches.  Iâ��m sure heâ��s going to fall in front of the train and be killed.  It whizzes past and he bounces off the side of the train while being spun around by it.  When the train stops, the door somehow ends up right in front of him.  When it opens up he literally falls right through the door and onto the floor of the car.  God must really look after idiots and drunks sometimes.  The former may explain my survival up to now.


By February, I have a new passport, replaced my money, and am ancy to move on from this most depressing city during it's most depressing season in probably its most depressing year since the second world war.   I will miss Alyona and my adopted family much.  

sylviandavid says:
Nice telling of your experiences.....
Posted on: Mar 15, 2008
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