Today, I saw a man on the metro carrying a very long length of wood and a builders club hammer, he was wearing a suite, perhaps he was going home to bury his wife under the floor? He just managed to get out of the train door before it closed shut. I have also seen people on the metro carrying office chairs and you will often see men carrying bunches of flowers. Flowers, are still popular in Russia and still the traditional way to a woman's bed, sorry I mean to her heart! I love seeing things like that, it makes life less ordinary, the less ordinary, makes life worth living for us all. In the winter here, you will often see people carrying skis and snowboards on the Moscow metro. Don't be surprised if you see a person in full winter ski gear, going down or up the escalator next to you with their skis, as if they are about to take the ski lift up the mountain. In parks, you will see men and women drinking beer from cans or drinking wine on the grass however, I still can't get used to that as I am an old fashioned Brit and find it slightly common. These outdoor drinkers don't seem to be totally drunk and I have never seen an aggressive Russian drunk, although I'm sure they do exist if you look for them in the right places. Russian's are usually very funny when they are drunk and not like my fellow countrymen from the UK, who fight each other and piss in doorways. In the summer, in Moscow, you can go to some parks and dance outside in the open air on dance floors, with people of all ages. No one is drunk and they are just happy to be dancing and having fun in the sunshine, the music can be awful but who cares, just dance! Get lost on the Moscow metro system or lost in the street and you will probably be helped right to the door by a Russian, this maybe because they want to practice their English but I have been helped by people who spoke no or very little English. Despite Moscow's hard concrete exterior, if you look hard, you can sometimes find soft sweet parts, like the best chocolates in the box that give you a warm feeling inside. In Moscow, I have never seen any dog shit on the pavement or any hoodie or gangs although the city has many homeless who live in a parallel universe to everyone else, they somehow survive the cold winters but probably die young.
You will often see Moscow police standing around with a fag hanging out their mouth and female Russian police officers with red painted fingernails. I always find it slightly amusing to look at them as they are often dressed in a short skirt, knee length black boots or high heels wearing full make-up with bleached blond hair and carrying a side gun and police stick. I suppose the police regulations don't forbid make-up and foot wear must just be black, the style and type of shoe is unimportant. I have often seen a Russian doing the sign of the cross and bowing when he or she passes a church and on special days, you will hear the pleasant sound of church bells ringing. You will not hear this tone of bell or style of ringing anywhere else but in Russia and it's nice to listen to, relaxing and in my opinion unique. Many Russian women speak their minds and don't show mercy if something does not meet with their approval. This can be frightening but also amusing and refreshing. We have an old neighbour who lives next door to us in our Moscow flat. She must be well over seventy but she often brings us homemade jam made from fruit from her country dacha or she will knock on our door bring us a stack of tasty pancakes, this would be unheard of back home. To get to her dacha, she takes two trains, a bus and then walks three miles to her dacha at weekends. Many of these old Russian women are hard old girls built for battle and designed for long distance travel, they were forged long before the free market madness that now sucks Moscow dry and are truly fascinating people. Our own part time Russian nanny, often brings us ducks and pickled vegetables from her dacha and she is an excellent cook. It is only during the last year, that I have been lucky enough to eat some traditional homemade Russian cooking made by Russians. It certainly won't get you thin but is very tasty and fills you up like any good comfort food should and is delicious. Russians are good cooks but seem mostly to stick to Russian dishes, they don't seem to have much knowledge of European cuisine. I'll post some recipes later.
Other eccentricities include, horses outside metro entrances with signs around their necks begging for money to feed them. Travel on the metro and you will often see old women in the metro stations bent down on the ground holding out a portrait of the virgin Mary, begging for money, you will see pregnant women begging for money with a sign around their necks and old ladies selling kittens or puppies in the metro stations, no one judges them and people give them money, that's how it's done here, in a country with few welfare benefits. Moscow is another universe and very different but what makes it an interesting, amusing and an annoying place to live in are the lack of rules, different rules and all the cities eccentricities. What really makes Moscow, Moscow are the people not the city and that's what I like about the place. Russians are superstitious and some superstitions that I like here are that Russians never shake hands in a doorway and always look in the mirror when leaving their home, hotel or office. I don't know why they do this and I have never had the opportunity to ask.
Moscow is very white with a few shades of colour with different face shapes with a Mongolian, oriental, Asian genetic. If you are not "white" as defined by any good dictionary, then living here may be strange and hard at first. If you are an expatriate and have any children born here, you will need to educate them in ethnicity differences, as Russia is not a true refection of ethnicity or society to match places like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and other countries with a large ethnic pot. I recommend doing this or your kids will have an unrealistic image of the rest of the world and may encounter problems not of their own making when they later move back home. Buy them reading books, that have different ethnic origins, to give them a healthy perspective of the world.
I will be pleased to leave Moscow but I will have fond and mixed memories of my time here, Moscow drives you mad but is an experience. I am still here for a few more years, so who knows what else the city will offer in way of experience and education? Only time will tell and I hope it will be positive. I would like to rename Moscow to "Eccentronia" the capital of Russian eccentricity. Accept the eccentricity and live the city. What ever happens and as long as I have a pulse and a computer keyboard, I'll share it with you dear reader.
Related stories: Moscow, Moscow acceptance, New arrivals to Moscow
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