The first three months in Moscow I hated it, the next six months in Moscow I hated it. By the first twelve months I hated it, then slowly month by month after that as we approach our two year stage here, I began to dislike it here rather than just hate it. Then after the riots in the UK a realization struck me like a bolt of lightening. I would rather live in Moscow, than in any large British city. Two years is not a long time by many expat living abroad standards but long enough for a place like Moscow and long enough for me. I have come to get a feel for the place, although I don't yet know many Russians. Russian people have a hard exterior like an old walnut and keep a guarded emotional space but the ones I have met, seem decent enough. People are often hard like this in large cities the world over. Women in playground are cautious of a man with a child and at times I still feel like a fairground freak, even after two years of doing my SAHD job.
I have the feeling, that Russians have more respect for each other, more than we do in the United Kingdom. Moscow certainly seems safer and more law abiding than London does, although there is crime here, it is mostly in the form of corruption that is not really seen as 'crime' in Russia. We go where life takes us and I and family are no exception to that old rule. I have written before about accepting Moscow and publically criticized Moscow. I am not a fan of Moscow and make no secret of it but I consider myself lucky to have a home, food and we have money, lucky not to live in a poor council estate or in a rough part of a city like London where only the mad and bad survive. Moscow for now, is our temporary home and despite my dislike of it as a place, I am grateful for the experience.
If you are moving abroad to Moscow, you will either hate it or love it but a lot depends on your reasons for coming here and on your pocket. Some men come here because they have met a woman via an online dating site or in person, some women come here, meet Russian men and marry them. One thing is for certain, anyone who marries a Russian is committed emotionally to Russia for the long term and have to make Russia their home. They know that Russia is like any country and not perfect but they live with it, they have to. They signed a long term contract without a real get out clause.
You either feel a place is for you or it is not for you, like trying on a pair of trousers, they either feel right and fit or feel right but look awful. Moscow is like that and perhaps many places are like that. I have the reassurance and a contract get out clause. I will not be here for the long term and will be gone from here one day. Moving to Moscow is also a bit like doing a tough degree course, you must read your subject, feel it and understand it to pass your exam. For me, Moscow is an exam and a learning processes. Russia is a learning process. I am at the first week stage to understanding my subject Moscow, Russia and Russians. Like the U2 song, I have still not found where I want to be but Moscow is not it. I'll keep learning and little by little, I may like it here, I have not given up yet. Moscow as a city is like a vast living organ, pumping blood and breathing, you have to dissect it to truly understand it's mechanisms and culture.
Number two child is to be born here next year, so a new chapter and adventure will begin here in Moscow, as they say, double the bum, double the fun for this stay at home dad. Nappies will continue. Its funny, as my son has only really known Moscow as 'home', in his young life but when he is in his teens he may not even remember his time in Russia but he will have an attachment to the place where I have no emotional attachment at all. One child will be born here and we will have it on paper. When I go home, I feel a foreigner when I am here I feel a foreigner. One day I may find my home like many, I am still looking for a place to call a permanent home, to shed my backpack, my snails shell and to have a base and an HQ.