June 04, 2011
I have been busy recently. I have been acting as an English nanny, surrogate father and English teacher to child X at a Russian family. I take the metro and am collected by their chauffeur. He drives very fast up the motorway while Russian songs that I don't understand, blast out of the radio from radio 'Dacha'. He races up to the back of cars almost hitting them and swerves to the left or to the right weaving in and out of other cars to get ahead. I grip the door handle and don't look ahead as its too scary.
Life is full of surprises for some, while others follow the mundane path. As for me, I have never followed the mundane. I have been a dish washer in a restaurant, worked as a top manager, owned an English teaching business and now I find myself teaching the rich in Moscow. I am grateful of this experience and for the opportunity to enrich life with many memories. Some lives almost seem like a fiction and mine is certainly no exception and thankfully so. Thank you life.
I will not say too much about child X, to respect privacy but also out of blind fear, as I would not want to end up as human tree fertilizer in some remote Russian woodland where the sound of muffled screams would not be heard.
Family X, live outside Moscow. The large community is gated, guarded and beautiful. Silver birch trees gently sway in the summer wind. Happy bling children with manicured poodles, walk along the perfect roads that lead to the capitalists dream and to the ideal. High perimeter fences traverse each property making them look like fortresses. Some have security cameras that look down on you with a loaded gun. Over the top of these fences you can just glimpse tantalizing views of these giant monoliths to capitalist wealth. Russian wealth of the most suspicious and ostentatious kind. Some look like French chateaus, while others look like beautiful homes directly from a high glossy architecture magazine.
House X that I go to, is in a gated woodland, surrounded by tall trees. The warm summer breeze gently blows through the tree leaves casting shadows that dance on the manicured gardens below. The air is sweet and filled with the perfume of summer flowers, I feel peaceful being there, I want to live there. Gardeners busily sweep or bend down in the flowerbeds tending to the flowers, while I play with child X before we head down to the community playground. Nanny goes with us. Family X have two nannies plus me, we go to the playground together she watches me with suspicion not knowing that I am a father and a serial blogger on the topic and a childcare legend. A man looking after a child, how totally absurd. I can't tell her this, so I just accept the situation and the worried looks that I get from her, perhaps in time she will trust me? We cannot speak much but I try to teach her some English while X and I play in the sand or we look at picture cards of animals to learn English.
Every women you see with a child or children is not a mother but a nanny. A surrogate adopted paid mother or at least until little X and friends are packed off to an English boarding school. Many children within this community have two or even three nannies. These nannies work in shifts, like oil rig workers on eight day duty rotas. They are on-call to juniors every need, twenty four hours a day. These houses contain five to six car garages. Within each garage, hides beautiful gems such as a Bentley, a Porsche, or a Mercedes often all of these and more. These houses employ small teams of staff to care for the owners every possible need, they run like fine five star hotels. Cooks, security guards, gardeners, chauffeurs and cleaners keep the houses running smoothly. People glide silently past on Segways or in white electric golf carts on the private roads that run throughout the community, on their way to play tennis or have brunch.
How do these people get their wealth? Is it by organized crime or corruption? By genuine business and hard work? By luck? Perhaps business, crime and corruption are the normality and one and the same in Russia? I am not so much jealous but more fascinated by this wealth. Until I came to Russia, I had never in my life seen such wealth and probably never will again. It is a truly fascinating experience. These communities make Surrey in England look like the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
These communities have tennis courts, beach volley ball, football pitches and seem to be like an England of my youth, when a community and family still existed in England. Now in Russia, this suburban ideal comes at a price that you can be part of if you have the bling. If I was a very rich man, I would probably buy into such a lifestyle if it would offer my family peace, safety and happiness. Do you want to be a billionaire? or just a millionaire?
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