December 23, 2010
I may complain at times about life in Moscow, but I think Moscow is a better place to be than my former existence and daily drudgery of working life in London. I would not swap my old stationary existence for all the money in the world. I feel very sorry for people in the UK. I think its disgraceful that people have to suffer such undignified journeys every day, in old dirty packed trains to work each day in order to survive and to pay the mortgage to feed the kids. Not only do they have to suffer these daily journeys into work, they also have to suffer expensive tickets prices and endless cancellations. It snows in Britain and the whole country stops. Game over.
In Moscow, the metro is clean, on time and cheap. Sure rush hour is not fun and the roads are grid locked but I think its better than the UK. I am very happy I dont have to make such a journey in my current role here.
Where is the accountability? Where is the penalty for failure anymore? Gone is the answer. No one is accountable, no one is blamed. Criminals get out in a few years and can now vote, human rights acts give rights to the bad guys while the good guys suffer. What is going on? The vast majority of the British population have been let down and are being let down year on year by bad governments, bad laws and failed promises.
The vast majority of British people are not fools, why are they treated this way?
Labels: My home land
December 18, 2010
As a foreigner here, it will be very important from your first week of arriving here, to get out and to meet people. You can do this by joining many of the clubs that can be found online. Many of them are for women as there is still the out of date view that its usually women and wives that follow husbands to Moscow rather than men that follow wives to Moscow, role stereotypes die hard. These clubs cater mostly for women but do allow men to join via their wife's name. If you are in this situation as an 'accompanying spouse' as they are known, then join these clubs as Moscow is a big lonely place despite the huge bursting population. Here you are just another face in the crowd. There are many foreigners here. If you are single, male, young and with money and in a good job, adapting will not be so hard as you will have a social and sexual adventure of your life. Russian woman can be beautiful, sexy and latch onto single foreign men like a limpet to a rock. Sadly, I don't speak from personal experience but only from what I have seen, read and heard about .....but I'm not bitter!. If you speak Russian, Russians will be a lot warmer towards you and I have to say, Russians seem to love children although child facilities in restaurants etc are not so good. Traveling on the metro with a small young child is not recommended.
Russians in shops can be very rude and abrupt but don't take it personally its just their way. Russians like to shout and if you speak Russian and are spoken to rudely shout back at them. This will be your only weapon and only way to win any argument. Russians are proud and proud to be Russian. I am from London and although people can be rude here in Moscow, I think they are no ruder than in London, so Moscow is no different to any other big city in that respect. Big cities make people like that since life is stressful. You will find it hard to adapt to the pollution, unless you come from a large city and you may find it hard to adapt to the daily corruption and expense of Moscow living. Moscow rent and food buying is highly expensive. For many months I compared prices of food stuffs and rent to my own country. This is a very big mistake, don't compare prices just adapt and switch off, its the only way or you will only feel sick, depressed and will not do anything or go anywhere here. Some young Russian women can seem very vain and cold. To be fair, Russian women have a hard time here, since Russian men do little to help at home and its only thanks to the women of Russia that Russia functions at all, since they are the main driving force behind the men and the family. In my view Russia would stop to run without them. Russian woman truly are the unsung heroes of this country.
Sink or swim, good luck to any new arrivals or soon to be new arrivals to Moscow, Russia.
See: New Arrivals to Moscow
Labels: Adapting to Moscow
December 15, 2010
Consequently, due to this heat, we wake up up five or six times a night with dry throats gasping for water. The air inside the flat is hotter and dryer than the Namibia desert, sometimes I think I can see a rattle snake slither under the bed. Soaking towels placed in front of the radiator, are bone dry in under an hour. I have resorted to putting small plastic Tupperware containers (that I knew would come in useful one day), full of water under all the radiators in every room and opening all the windows at night and in the day. When we asked the landlord about it, he just said turn the air conditioning on. Fine, but then we would use up electricity and we only one unit and that's in the living room. I should explain, that Russia has lots of energy and oil and so electricity is not so expensive and there is lots if it.
A lesson to the wise, If you rent a flat in Moscow check the the heating has an on and off switch. We take this as normal in our country but in Russia, many flats have centrally controlled communal heating. As I have said before, its turned on and off at set times by a centrally controlled, invisible state hand. You the flat dweller have no control and will roast like a chicken on a spit until "they" turn it off. I swear I don't make any of this stuff up, its all true and happens to us in Moscow.
Labels: Moscow heating
December 13, 2010
He has had a bad cough for over three weeks now. Each time we go there, we are given drops and syrups that have no effect. I went straight to the office at the medical centre where they provided me with a translator. On this visit, I took with me all the useless bottles, drops and potions they had given me before, to ensure that I would not be given the same useless bottles and drops on this visit. I made my way up to the doctors office with my heavy carrier bag full of clanking bottles in one hand and my wriggling wheezing kid in the other. I put all the useless bottles on the doctors desk and the doctor listened to my kids chest and suggested I buy a nebulizer and some inhaling liquids. The translator communicated with the doctor, the doctor communicated with the translator and it went back and forth lost in a dance of translation. The translator was unsmiling and unsympathetic. We left the doctors room with yet more prescriptions and headed downstairs to the phramacy.
At the pharmacy, in the medical centre, they put the nebulizer machine in a carrier bag along with the liquids and asked me for 4,000 rubles. I gave them my Visa card and the pharmacy assistant put it in the card machine, I entered my pin code, nothing it was rejected. I then tried again, rejected. I then tried my Master card and the same thing happened, people were waiting in line and getting angry and the pharmacy was filling up with people. I had cash in my pocket but was saving it for food shopping, it was the only cash I had until my wife would get back from her business trip, food or medicine? In desperation, I told the translator that they could keep my passport and that I would come back with another card the next day when my wife would be back in Russia. She took us to see the pharmacy manager. In her office, the translator told her my request, the pharmacy manager looked up at us from behind her desk and with cold eyes and a stony heart she said the single Russian word that I hate 'Niet' No. So I painfully counted out the last of my Russian cash and left the pharmacy feeling angry and wound up. Cow, may your nipples fall off and may you burn in hell.
I then had to get all my medical insurance forms filled out, signed and stamped, my form had to be signed by the doctor and the same form had to be stamped (in two places, in different boxes on the form) at one admin window and I had to pay for the doctor consult at another window, (strangely at this window my card was accepted). Jesus wept. After all this bureaucracy, I felt ill and needed a doctor. Luckily, I had a spare form!
We have to jump through these hoops whenever we visit the doctor here, its a long story. This is stressful at the best of times but when you have a small toddler running around the medical centre terrorizing the staff, its even more stressful. When you don't speak the language and have a sick kid and have no money, its highly stressful. Note to self, learn Russian or leave Russia. In fact, just getting your insurance forms filled out and stamped may cause you to have a heart attack or high blood pressure and you will have to fill out more forms.
I think Russians can be cold, if you don't speak the language. If you are foreign, they assume that you have insurance and that everything is paid for. Some foreigners here have that luxury and their insurance pays the medical centre directly cutting out the need for the claim form song and dance. Unfortunately, I don't have such a system and can't have such a system. Don't ask why.
I refuse to use a well known medical center here, named after a famous European currency last word 'medical', because they charge 150 euro just to see the doctor, excluding any medical tests. They have got rich on foreign insurance and I often see the doctors parking their 911's in the street when I walk past with my kid each day. However, I may be forced to swallow my entrenched principals and go there if my kid is not better soon, however we will still have these bureaucratic hoops to jump through in order to get paid back.
The story does not end there. In order to get paid back any medical costs in Russia, we have to send one copy of the claim form, including a copy of prescriptions and receipts to one office and another scanned copy of everything has to be sent off to another office. We wait about three to four weeks, then we may be paid back some or all of the costs. This is all true I swear on my aunts Fannies life dear reader.
Note to nebulizer virgins: Try holding a face mask on an under two, while he/she wriggles and screams. Tip, strap kid into stroller and put kid in stroller in front of the TV while you use the face mask. All part of life's learning process dear reader.
Labels: Medical bureaucratic hoops
December 06, 2010
This blog is supposed to be an online diary of travel and life abroad as a SAHD but occasionally, I like a rant that has absolutely nothing to do with these things, if nothing else other than to let off steam and ask those unanswered questions or have a moan. This post has also been inspired by a routine from one of the best British comedians Michael McIntyre. See here when you have read below.
What is it about male changing rooms that I hate? Everything. I try to go to the gym when I can get time off from my man wife duties to try to relax. I pound the electric tread mill while watching Russian TV that I don't understand, I then quickly throw on my swimming shorts on and go for a swim, steam and Jacuzzi. I find myself looking at the younger Russian women, while I sit in the jacuzzi trying not to swallow the blue toxic bubbles. These women are nice to look at, I am old and it makes change from the half tone whales you see belly flopping into the pool, so forgive my private voyeurism. After this water peep ritual, I head on up to the men's locker room to wash and dress.This is a place that fills me with fear and dread.
Why is that men of all shapes and sizes prance and dance about with everything waving about like washing in the wind? They bend over, reach up and make phone calls, in the nude with their meat and two veg flapping about, short men, fat men, hairy men and bald men. The drying process is complicated and rather horrible. They towel off every area and dry every crevice and crack on their bodies with such vigor and joy, it really is disgusting to behold. Some stand buck naked in front of the mirror, while blow drying their hair and willies for hours. In the shower they lather up, soap their entire bodies while cleaning out their noses and spitting in the shower. As for me, I get in, shower and dry as quickly as possible and leave. Job done. The male body, best kept hidden in my opinion. I vote to change with the women much more interesting, less hairy and totally delicious. Rant over.
Labels: washing in Moscow
December 03, 2010
I must find a job, for I am man, man needs job, man must work, man bring meat. Then I will hire some kind baby sitter. I won't make a profit after paying the baby sitter but at least I'll get out of the flat and meet with adults of some description and regain the ability to speak adult and act adult. It would be nice to make friends with some Russians to try to get to know Russians and to feel Russia. At this time, I don't feel I know Russia very much since I am physically trapped in my cell five days a week with a naughty monkey. The television is on all day and I know all the shows on Travel & Living. I half watch them with one eye and ear. Is this what its like to be unemployed? I had forgotten before this new experience came along.
This grayness is hard to cope with and can last till March. It gets your spirits down and its so cold outside that going out to play is hard. Faces get red, skin gets dry and noses run with strings of snot. When a blue sky breaks through the winter cloud, its a cause of celebration here in Moscow. A bigger flat would make winter more bearable but bigger flats are out of price here as rent prices go beyond all greed. Last year was our first winter here and was a hard gig to do, this winter I know what to expect but it does not make it any easier dear reader.
A poem to poo
My son likes to poo but not in the loo and often in his shoe or in may hands or on the fold away divan.
Poo comes in all shapes and sizes, some rather small and some rather big, some long and thin in the shape of a biscuit tin. Some poo can be smelly like an old welly.
When I first started to change a nappy I felt rather crappy, I held my nose and crossed my toes. I stared at the contents and the shapes within some quiet artistic and looking rather ballistic like large brown bombs that rhyme with songs.
Potty training is another story and quite a skill too hard to teach too easy to spill. I dream of the day when nappies go away when my boy can poo and sit on the loo. I will be free and no pee, poo will be gone and I will sing a song. I am not a poet!
Labels: The mad season
December 02, 2010
We will soon be escaping the cold clutches of the big freezer and heading to a very Russian destination of Egypt. I have been warned to expect many drunk loud Russians, but frankly they don't scare me or worry me. I come from the land of loud drunk hooligans, so nothing will be worse than that. I only hope its not too noisy near our room. We had to pay for this holiday in cash, no credit cards accepted and you have to go in person to the agency to collect your booking details. What a palaver but there is not much choice if you want a holiday. Egypt is about four hours away by plane from Moscow. Lets hope its hot and that we don't get eaten by sharks!
Labels: Holidays from Russia