The minor cheating, failure to make repairs and general all round low-level difficulties with my landlord's agent have finally blown up into a major row; after her failure to pay a phone bill which left me without internet for several days, the problem became how the flat is clearly perfect, and I am someone who breaks everything (non sequiturs being the hardest thing to deal with in any language). It is never a good idea to argue via a translator - not because he wasn't good, but because you can never have a really good shouting match or have the satisfaction of knowing you have scored even a single point. In fact, her increasingly litany of damages done by me, including many non-existent ones, led as expected to the possibility of calling the police, threats of arrest, locking me out of the flat, checking my papers and even deportation. All of this, of course, because she is planning to appropriate (well, steal is the more accurate word) my deposit.
The thing is, when you are used to the rule of law (however inadequate or problematic) it is hard to remember that in Moscow she could easily carry out her threats, through a simple bribe to a corrupt policeman. Which in turn is part of a bigger problem; when ordinary, civilised people, such as the people I work with, cannot make an impact on even a small injustice - for there is absolutely nothing to be done despite vague suggestions of involving lawyers. And that, in turn, makes it hard to believe, (in the way I am used to without thinking) in the possibility of having any effect on the world. This is sometimes called russian fatalism; but it is both more complex and more everyday than that. It makes it hard to plan, to have aims or ambitions, to believe you can have some control over present and future events, because it is proved again and again that things will most likely go wrong.... or at least strangely sideways.
All you can do in situations like these, is to try and respond well: and my colleagues are doing just that - being very helpful, sorting out a temporary home at short notice and helping me my stuff. Much appreciated.
Will be sorry to leave this place, not for its IKEA corporate look, but for the great location and the absolutely fabulous outlook on not just one but two Stalinist skyscrapers. Goodbye, view.