Monday, August 13, 2012

You know you have been in Moscow long enough when you: 

  • are not surprised that most building might have 10 entrances but only one is left unlocked. By rule, this is usually the tinniest 
  • have been 2,5 hours in a traffic jam on the way home from the airport thinking "why did I forget to use the bathroom?"
  • have joined the national queue jumping competition of which Russia is undisputed World champion
  • have seen a whole different level of excellence in delivering bad service
  • you have involuntarily taken cold showers in August because the warm water unexplainably went missing
  • are not surprised that friends will let you know they metro stop even if they know you are coming by car. Finding an address in Moscow is confusing and mistakes cost ridiculous amount of time. To avoid misunderstandings you are given the Metro stop name so that you don't end up in the other part of the city
  • are not surprised that most buildings residential and commercial and businesses have an angry looking security guard or a few of them. Hiring criteria must be advanced misanthropy 
  • have bribed a government official
  • give presents to people just to make them do their job
  • bought a fur hat, even if fake
  • know the name of the space shuttle in Gorky Park 
  • have had straight vodka shots with dinner, or without
  • have been stuffed on caviar 
  • know what "Khachapuri" means. Georgian style bread with eggs and cheese
  • don't find persimmons an exotic fruit 
  • own a Matreshka
  • used a gipsy taxi 
  • if you drive, your driving style has been significantly changed for the worse. In fact if your newly adopted driving style would be used else where, you are likely to have serious altercation with the traffic authorities
  • are not surprised that people clap when the airplane lands 
  • are not surprised to see people drinking beer at 10 am on a Tuesday. Beer is not considered alcohol in Russia
  • have shopped extensively in supermarkets before returning to Moscow
  • you have learned that you can buy anything in Russia if you have the money to afford it. Even a giraffe if you so desire
  • the degree of nudity in a regular nightlife spots does not surprise you
  • random people have been yelling at you for no apparent reason, including people that are supposed to sell you things
  • you have seen people yelling in public at each other on regular basis
  • you have opened the windows in the middle of a blasting snowstorm just to get the temperature in the apartment to go down from 35 to 25 C
  • you have a humidifier 
  • you have paid 20$ for a glass of average wine in an average restaurant
  • you have eaten to an Indian Restaurant that doesn't have anything spicy on the menu
  • when you enter a restaurant you automatically first go to the cloak room
  • you wash your hands far more often then you used to
  • you dread drinking tap water
  • you find RT favorite hobby, USA bashing, rather amusing, and so as Moscow Times presumably "unbiased" account on political events
  • you don't find it surprising to always feel "watched" and "listen to"
  • no degree of cold can keep you inside the house on an average winter weekend. Otherwise you might as well stay at home for at least 6 months a year
  • have a double front door with at least 3 lockers 
  • are not surprised  if people don't answer when you greet them
  • laugh less, especially in public 
  • winter sports became a routine, summer activities decreased drastically
  • English is much worse
  • you shop far less
  • you travel far more
  • for the money you pay for your flat in Moscow you would live in a mansion with a butler else where 
  • know you can't run more than one errand a day
  • are not surprised that paying for a small piece of furniture can take for up to an hour and requires several signatures and at the involvement of at least 3 cashiers 
  • most of the Russians you know are called Masha, Lena, Nadya and Natasha, or Igor, Volodya, Misha and Sasha. You know at least 15 of each 
  • have made lasagna with "tvorog" instead of ricotta cheese, pizza with sardines instead of anchovies, risotto-filles chicken with basmati rice instead, burritos without guacamole or chillies, used "lavash" instead of naan bread etc.. 
  • are not surprised that commercial establishments never have change and you have established the habit to collect and cherish small bills
  • know that 1000 rubles can barely cover your lunch bill in a modest restaurant
  • have spend 4 hours in traffic because someone important had to go to the airport
  • have become superstitious
  • bought strong medicine in the pharmacy not knowing what it is and without prescription. Miraculously it worked 
  • were stopped on the street while out for a jog in sports outfit and asked "why are you running, what is wrong with you?" and you knew it was not a joke
  • are not surprised that a Russian man grabs your heavy bag and carries it up the stairs in the metro. You have had doors open and held, arm offered to step out of a car, you have been given huge bouquet of expensive flowers by a guest, all completely flirt-free 
  • are not surprised to see a heavenly female creature in a designer outfit under the arm of ugly unshaven man with a big belly dressed in track suit 
  • received expensive presents from your Russian guests that made you feel slightly uncomfortable
  • shop a lot online and gladly pay for delivery knowing that otherwise you would have spend 5 hours in buying a simple iron 
  • own a big heavy jacked that could take you around the arctic circle if needed
  • never forget your gloves or mittens in restaurants anymore. The cold reminds you to run back and find them within seconds 
  • learned how to dress warm to a degree of an expert 
  • are not surprised to see women of all ages balancing on stilettos on the ice whole winter long 
  • you are not surprised to see girls putting make up on Before starting a work out session
  • have been to a classical concert at 150$ cheapest ticket and not-surprised to see the whole huge hall completely packed
  • have seen unaccounted amount of prostitutes congregating around the bar and attacking suspecting and unsuspecting bystanders. Good news is, you can easily avoid the scene by going to another bar
  • are not surprised that the average size of cloths of women between 20 and 35 is US size 4 or XS. Seemingly the whole of Moscow is on a permanent diet 
  • are not surprised that the percentage of young people working out is negligibly small and you have heard hundreds of times the phrase "I am not an athlete" or "I am not a sportsman". It seems that physical education is either ignored or detested from early age unless taking a professional sportsman development path 
  • are not surprised to see average Russian people in expensive designer cloths which they clearly can't afford. Saving money is not a Russian thing to do
  • you are not surprised that income tax in Russia is so small comparing to Western Europe that people often earn more net income in Moscow than their counterparts in the European office. 
  • have been to exotic countries after a 10 hour flight only to discover that you are surrounded by pretty much only Russian people and all signs of restaurants and menus are all written in Russian
  • have seen a guy downing 5 vodka shots on an 8 am flight
  • have been on a late flight where at least half of the passengers seem heavily intoxicated 
  • have seen world class art exhibited in most random places 
  • had dinner party that ended up with a breakfast at 5 am
  • have seen more Porsche Cayennes than you thought Porsche can produce 
  • Have seen cars parked in the most amazing places including in parks, school yards, zebra paths, tight corners, flower gardens, theater entrances, etc. 
  • Have seen cars driving on the pedestrian sidewalk at 80km/h
  • Bought the most expensive berries you ever thought existed in Azbuka Vkusa
  • Have seen several Russian women with $30K designer outfits, 1000$highlights and a 200$ manicure discussing lazily the real estate market in London in a street cafe while in the next door kiosk another Russian woman is working for 300$ a month 12 h shifts. 
  • feel like crying every time you land on Sheremtyevo airport and have to go trough passport control together with several hundred Uzbeki gasterbeiters. 
  • consider 0 degree celsius a "warm day"
  • celebrate Spring in late May
  • say good bye to summer in mid September
  • have a constant feeling that you prefer to be some place else instead