Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

Eiljert (to newly returned Planner in My Own Image): How was Moscow?

Planner in My Own Image: Like a Glasgow housing estate. All of it.

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Moscow Beckons

Saturday, 10th November 2007

The city of terrible food (well, one of them: anywhere in Germany is probably still worse…) beckons with its -6C temperature, unattractive women and aggressively laughter free culture.

I am there for a conference on The Semiotics of Evil and Goodness in Modern Russia. Honestly.

Wife is keen that I buy her a fur hat (which I won’t, for many reasons), and the children are keen that I get them A Cinderella Coach, A Robot, and A Shark: the odds on this are also low, although for very different reasons.

I don’t have a clue what to wear: I don’t know if I can find a single-breasted suit made out of 15 TOG duvets, but if not, then I am going to be somewhat “fucked”.

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Weather Report

Friday, 16th November 2007

The flight from London to Moscow was three and a half hours.

The journey from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport to the centre of Moscow was three and a half hours.

The reason? Six inches of snowfall, which (as with British Rail and leaves falling in Autumn) appears to have taken Moscow by surprise – to the extent that all the traffic lights failed. It was interesting to watch their response: a combination of utter indifference and stoicism, but at intervals men left their cars to direct traffic, returning to their cars to drive on and hand on the baton to the next man.

Was this evidence of the regularity of this kind of systematic fuck-up? Or was it pure socialism in motion?

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Friday, 16th November 2007

Pointless Things I Have Done No. 445,763: “Visit a “Typical Russian Housewife in Her Home To Understand Her Attitude To Hygiene”.

Blanketed in six inches of snow, the housing estate (which must have accommodated over 40,000 people) looked less bleak than it otherwise would have done. But once we got inside the stairwell there was no disguising how horrible it was, with litter and food waste in the bottom of the stairwell playing host to a nest of rats, who appeared to be staging a dance, by the amount of movement going on.

We got upstairs and a woman the size of Bella Emberg, clad in a patterned Camberwick dressing gown that was fighting a losing battle to swathe her enormous and blue-tinged bangers, came to the door. She showed us into her kitchen, where her daughter and nine-month old granddaughter were sitting at a table. Her neighbour was smoking, leaning against the wall. Three cats of various sizes were on the kitchen work surfaces, eating the food out of their dishes that had been laid out for them there.

The representatives of our Russian office started talking to them, but it was unnecessary (fortunately) for me to be able to understand . Here was a home that had been cleaned, but was clearly a germ fantasia. I learned later that the cats use the bath as their litter tray, because the owner was able to use the shower head both to wash her hair and to rinse the faeces down the plug.

As we left, one of my Russian colleagues said to me “This not typical Russian housewife”, ashamed of what had been apparent. My guess would be that she was very typical for that estate, and many more like it – but she didn’t need packaged goods from the West: she needed someone to tell her (and the others) how to be safer. So that’s what we’ll spend the money on.

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