Winter usually brings with it snow sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. Many of us love snow, it silently falls onto the ground and creates a soft white blanket and a beautiful silence and freshness that fills the air. That is, it normally does, in Moscow snow is a curse and hated by the Russian authorities. Snow and ice creates employment. Men from the far regions of Russia, move to Moscow to literally scrape a living here. They sweep dust and leaves in the summer and scrape and shovel snow in the winter. They can do this activity, at all hours and everyday, for about four or five months and they do this when there is hardly any snow on the ground. They form the "black economy" and without them, the streets would be hard to walk on in harsh winters. They are a blessing and a real curse. It must one of the hardest and worst jobs anyone could do, cold and back breaking. You will need to survive this snow clearing process or you will go insane. Until you move to Moscow, you may have no idea of what I am talking about but here is how to get some sleep.
When moving into your new, rented Moscow, flat make sure your bedroom is not facing a yard or near to a main street. This is hard to do in Moscow, as most flats do face a street or yard but if possible, rent a flat this is high up (10th floor) or as far away as possible from the pavement (sidewalk), road or back yard. Devil snow men, in orange jackets, bash the ice, with long steel picks and then tractors come along and scoop up the snow, putting it into a truck, where it is taken away and turned into ice Russian cream, for export to the US and China. This winter, (my 4th here) they have been working from midnight to 5 am. Yellow diggers, have been scrapping their metal buckets; with sparks flying, along an almost naked road, to remove a handful of snow or ice, when they reverse back, their trucks make bleeping noises. This pointless, insane activity, may happen due to some form of corruption on a contract to clear a street or the men may simply be filling their paid time. Perhaps, Putin hates me and has read my blog and sees it as another western conspiracy? These snow devils, could not care less about your sleep and will make noise all night if they have to. You will grow to hate them and you will lay in bed at night, fantasizing about shooting them with your night vision, high powered Magnum paintball rifle.
Drink large quantities of Vodka or take strong horse sedatives (not recommended), sleep in a cupboard or put ear plugs in your ears (the wax kind are the best). Ear plugs are good but do tend to fall out and get lost in the bed, often turning up months later in a sock, in a cup of tea or under your pillow. Perhaps there is an ear plug gremlin, who takes them out of your ears while you sleep to harvest the ear wax? You can also buy a shovel and go out in the daytime and remove all the snow from the yard or street yourself, but you may get some funny looks from these men in orange jackets, who are paid to do it. You can bribe them to let you sleep. Alternatively, If you have a baby, sharing your bedroom at night, throw used dirty nappies down on them from your bedroom window.
Some people, do not notice these night time noises and they are the lucky ones but many do. If you have a small baby who wakes you up every few hours, plus the noise outside, you will most probably go insane and will be repatriated back home, to a secure mental facility. If you wear ear plugs, you may not hear the baby. Some people shut the window at night. Having a bedroom window open at night, is an old British tradition and many a British public school boy, will remember nights when it was as cold inside the room as it was outside the room. Fresh air in a bedroom is very healthy. Russians fear open windows more than tax or a world without out Gucci or Prada and most keep all windows shut at night. This would usually be tolerable but in Russia, most flats have no heating "off" switch as the heating is turned on and off by the city authorities, some say, by Putin himself. You can close you windows and have less noise but then you will cook all night. In reality, the only real solution is to have one window open and wear wax ear plugs. Sleep well.
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