Monday, April 4, 2011

In the beginning going out can be difficult in a new country. I remember that feeling of restrictive mobility from when I first moved countries some 10 years ago. Mostly it's all about the fact that there is no real reason to go out. Going out is overrated I would think and postpone that run/walk/coffee and whatever else I would force myself to do so that I can get some fresh air.In Moscow things are different. The babies want to go out and we go.
We walk several times a week around the Kremlin walls, across the Red square, stroll in GUM when the weather is bad. It's grand and idyllic in the same time. Early morning at the square when almost no one is there, mist is evaporating before your eyes, the colors of the church popping with each ray of sun: it's a spiritual experience when I think of the greatness of Russia and how lucky we are to be here.

But, But...
Going out for a walk to start, is a circus on it's own.
Getting out of the apartment with the stroller is a two persons job, possibly three and maybe even four, but any additional person is a plus.
Moscow is a beautiful, but user unfriendly city, with beautiful, or darn ugly, but one hundred percent user unfriendly doors and elevators. As if every building is designed to be difficult to enter and even more difficult to exit. I am pretty sure it's some sort of conspiracy, trying to control the human flow of in that overpopulated megapolis. Make it very difficult to go out and people might decide to stay in. Who knows maybe it works.
Our building is not an exception with regards to ingress and egress. It needs a strategy, focus and advanced management skills to oversee the following team:

  • One person to take the double stroller out, folded, to unfold it and get it ready and to make sure that its not covered with snow/rain water or did not disappear. For this job you need a technically savvy, physically strong, patient, very flexible person who will have to squeeze a huge stroller trough a small heavy door, which quickly clashes behind your back leaving you outside in extreme weather conditions.
  • One, or ideally two people to dress the babies who understandably will sweat even after 30 seconds in their winter outfits in the apartment where it's about +25 C while outside might be -15 which requires a few layers, hats, mittens and scarfs and what not. For that you need stress-ressitant, quick multy-tasker, with strong biceps and advanced entertaining skills.
  • One person to call the elevator while the child-carrier,s hold the kids waiting and while the stroller man is outside, protecting the stroller from potential stroller collectors. That one person, the elevator-connector, let's call him, has to be an expert in conflict resolution, including advanced negotiation skills, advanced local language skills including but not limited to Moldovan, Ukrainian, Tajiks and several other languages from the former Soviet Union electorate, and advanced kung-phoe and judo skills are a plus. The task might include but is not limited to: yelling upward direction while demanding the construction workers to stop holding the tiny little excuse of a lift to be released from their exclusive use. If the above don't comply, some language and negotiation skills can be applied, and in the worse case scenario, well there it goes your judo training. 
  • On occasion, another strong and stress-resistant person is needed, with perfect Russian and some English, particularly good knowledge of advanced cursing.  That person needs to be able to talk at the elevator operator in case the elevator stops, the twin babies start screaming and the person that answers the elevator "problem-resolution" call tells you something like "We might come in about 40 min if we find an available car. Otherwise I don't know... Bip-bip-bip". WTF?? Pardon my French...
  • Finally you need a door-man to open the heavy user-unfriendly door, while the person, with the strong biceps carries the children out, puts them into the stroller, secures the belts and well.. then everyone can finally go for a walk.

Feeling like going out, anyone?

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