February 06, 2010
Cars, cats and kids
Tigger, the boy, has Cancer. His name comes from "Winnie The Pooh", He had a lump removed four years ago and now its grown back again. We went to one vet last week, but were later warned by a Russian friend not go there "as they operate on animals without putting them to sleep". I found this hard to believe, but Mrs Englishman would not trust them, so today we went to another vets in Moscow.
I went downstairs to the car with my son, to put him in his car seat. Parked in front of our car, was a car with the engine running, sending out dirty black smoke. The doors were locked and there was no driver. I strapped junior into his seat, sat in the car, turned the key and it would not start. Flat battery. I try again and again. Nothing. Junior is beginning to gently scream, while thick dirty smoke is blowing all around the car, I look through the windows, no sign of the driver where is he? Invisible, vanished? I push my car back from behind it to try to keep ours away from the smoke as it is going into our car and my son is inside. I send my wife off to find someone to help us. Eventually, my hysterical wife manages to find the man who runs the buildings who is a kind of doorman, janitor and community spy, and he starts the car using my cables connected to both batteries from his car to mine in a Russian British alliance of cooperation. We pay him 1,000 rubles and he seems pleased. My wife speaks some Russian but not Russian slang, which is impossible for her to understand. We smile politely at his comments although we understand nothing, we just feel relived to have a working car. We load the cat in the car and drive off to the vets.
My son is still screaming, the cat is meowing and my wife is screaming at me with the map held in her hand the wrong way up, telling me which way to go. Bart, our Sat navigation assistant, is having a bad day and sends us around a pond five times, telling us to turn right again and again. Eventually, with white hair and bitten finger nails, we find the vets. Mrs Englishman disappears down an alleyway with the cat, while junior and I wait in the car. Two hours later, and 3,000 rubles later, my wife returns to her nervous twitching husband with the cat and tests results. It has not spread and can be cut out, drama over. We must return soon so he can have it operated on.
I don't use my car made in "frog land" very often and as I have said before, my nerves won't allow it in the Moscow traffic, I only use it to go shopping about two times a month so the battery must get flat in the cold weather. I will now get into the habit of starting it every three days or so to charge the battery. Our car is a "Friday car" or so the manager of the car showroom told me with a total straight face, when I went to complain about it to him, after we bought it. It has had so many problems since we got it new, six years ago. We tried to sell it in Slovakia but nobody wanted it, so we bought it with us on the moving truck to Russia. It was lucky we did, as I cannot imagine life without a car in Moscow. Its very useful to have, if only to go to the big supermarket each month and to play "bash the chin" with other happy shoppers. Bash the chin with your shopping trolley cart, is a Russian national sport. I am not cat person, but you become attached to animals, even if they scratch you to bits and leave fur all over your jumpers. He may live longer or he may end his days in his country. We will see. I hope he will be OK, he is a good furry friend.
Its kind of ironic, as we started out on our "living abroad" life ten years ago in Russia and may end it here, as this maybe our last country abroad but I hope not, the idea of sitting still in one country for life, is not a prospect I want right now and we badly need to save more to buy a flat or house. Things in life often go in circles. Cat will be fixed soon, car is working again and kid is asleep... or was but is now screaming again. I must go.
Adieu dear reader.