Archive for Moscow


Posted in English, Stories and Tales, Travel diary with tags , , , , , , on 2011-08-14 by candycactus

I was told people do not read much these days. Me neither. But they write a lot and they make plenty of pictures. Well, me too then. Even if there is nobody to read – this one writes itself.
Blin – says the man next to me. The stewardess poured into his cup hot water for coffee, the cup must have gotten hot and he poured it all over himself. His face was angry before, but now all the features of his ripe reddish wrinkled face got emphasized even more. We were about to land in Moscow.

I knew Moscow from events like the funeral of Brezhnev. I would watch it as a child through our tiny Silelis, which was a Soviet product of a TV of the size of a good Gouda cheese. All black and white. I knew Moscow form the every night program Vremia, where they would show Kremlin and play this eternal special soviet jingle. I thought listening to the news that the word ‘deputat’ means a rat. I believed as a child that Brezhnev was a monkey. I was really small. My grandmother would return from a trip to Moscow they would do to bring some goodies and bring me some potato chips. I would eat them so fast that I would forget soon they were from Moscow. But I remember now.

Landing. Claps for the pilot. The notion of being in a time machine overcomes even my conscious mind.

Everybody would rush to get out of the plain, even more than usually. And now – everybody would keep waiting longer than usually.

While watching all these people standing uncomfortably in the small plane I thought that I never understood this logic, because everybody would meet at the luggage at the same time anyway.

I came out as one of the last ones and realized why all this rush – the bus was completely packed. I sqeezed myself inside somehow. Now – another lady passenger with a daughter in a buggy was approaching the bus with not a single square decimeter for anybody to even stand. However, the lady manager with a yellow west would enter the bus and in a loud shrill voice announce – ‘Move to the front! Can’t you see the bus is completely empty!’ Well, it sounds not convincing in English. But in Russian it works: ‘Nu davai podvintes v period, avtobus zhe v polne pustoj!’

A queue to the passport control. An old lady with amazing horizontal dimensions would move slowly from behind, her small eyes would avoid any contact until she would reach the point of no return and pretend she was always standing in front of me. An old soviet survival technique that remains preserved through this specimen! Full respect.

How should I get to the Moscow center? There is an information desk. A worn out cardboard sign says – ‘Technicheski pereriv 5 min’. A technical break. Sure, they cannot write ‘organical break’, this would be obviously too much.

Glimpse into the toilet in this airport hall. Completely full plus queues. I guess if one of them is the information desk official – it would take another 15 minutes just to ask what is the best way to get to the station “VDNX”. I decide to keep it all with me.

Every time I was pronouncing the name of the station it invoked in me the feeling that I was actually swearing at somebody with a bad swearing word.

Finally outside. Unexpectedly warm. Two officials with uniforms of some sort. VDNX? I could hardly believe how friendly they were – go by bus, this fancy train is too expensive and it is stupid, like this and like that. Information desk did not work? Welcome to Russia – they grinned at me with truly friendly smiles.

Metro. Smell of beer, vodka and sweat. Friday night. Tiredness. I guess this is the metro life. People in the underground anywhere in the world must look the same. The difference to here must be just the smell of the alcohol.

Diversity. Old colonialist power full with its subjects from the furthest corners of the empire. I can hear stereotypes breaking in my mind – Mongolian faced beautiful young woman with a sexy white dress and high heels speaking Russian with a Moscowian accent. Wow.

The wind of the metro is the same anywhere in the world I guess too. The sound. Hm, have experiences less loud ones. Moscow metro is unbearably loud. I guess this is the reason why music in cafes in Moscow is so loud – because all inhabitants of Moscow are probably a bit deaf.

Metro stations come along with some funny feelings. They look pretty same as in Tbilisi. Same time construction – the 50’s. A lot of sweat and propaganda went into the building of both. However, these metro stations remind me of my phobia that I developed in Tbilisi due to the frequent power cuts those days some 5 years ago. Just the sheer idea of the possibility that electricity might disappear while I would be in the incredibly deep depths of the city together with hundreds of other fellows in complete darkness made me manage Tbilisi by walking. Still, I would experience all kinds of phobias that I could not escape as easy – such as phobia not to get your cash when you enter all your numbers into the cash machine and the electricity disappears for unpredictable time. Well, here I should not fear that, since here I am in Russia, the seat of the power manager.

I exit the metro station VDNX and try to orient myself how to find the hotel. Stand-alone-toilet-booths with ladies to collect the rubles, kvas station, people trading from newspaper to dogs with a Soviet statue in the background committed to cosmonauts – a rocket shooting through the sky. One drunkard tells me he runs a dog shelter. He is a bit drunk, like nearly everybody here. But he is very friendly. He tells me to take care of my stuff – there would be many thieves.

I drift throughout the huge streets, passing by huge limousines I have never seen anything like that before in my life.

8 million they say. However, now and here the city feels empty. Maybe it is the summer. No children, no old people, no young people. Nobody to ask anything. Finally a lonely guy with dozen of watermelons to sell. I ask him the way. He smiles and his golden teeth shine on me. I bet he is from Azerbaijan. He is. Diversity of the former empire!

Smells work like time machine devices. Pickled cucumbers. Some old sofa. Some unidentifiable smell from far time ago. Don’t know what that is, but it smells exactly like Soviet times.

I observe my mind. It says – I am so happy we are independent from this culture.. I want to go back. I do not like it here. And then I try to observe just as it is without craving and aversion – these many plump tired faces, alcohol in so many eyes, innumerable female legs with red toes..

Beautiful faces. Ugly faces. Angry faces. Tired faces. But that is it. I cannot see any subtlety among these categories. Maybe it is just me, that I cannot see it, or maybe it is a phenomena of big cities – that people start functioning like one organism, sharing features and concerns, like ants.

No, nothing resonates with me here. I guess I am not neutral enough to take it all easy.. Yes – in this city the letters of my relatives would arrive with requests to release them from Siberia. And yes – in this city they would get lost. In this city all these people would arrive to get visas to emigrate. And at some point they would be gone forever – living there, but dead in the streets of Vilnius. But it would be here, from were my grandma would bring me potato chips (absolute delicacy at that time for me, this is unexplainable for anybody who did not live through the Soviet times), from here the Indian incense and spices would come from to our home, since in Moscow would be all these shops that would trade with things from beyond of the empire.

Red square. My stomach declares it is there. Much smaller than in my mind. I am happy I was born early enough to understand what it means and late enough to escape its ugliness.

It is too hot these days – unbearable continental climate. Yes, somehow I do feel respect for people who live in such conditions. Finally found a bench to sit on, surrounded by immense huge streets. Kremlin towers with red stars in the blue hot summer evening sky.

Want to escape. Can hardly bear the heat and the picture. Just as in the past I would hate this particular picture trying to find a nice New Years postcard and would have a choice between a dozen variations of Kremlin…

I’m going back home.