Sunday, 5 February 2012

some things I dislike about Moscow - smelly hallways

It is a sad but accurate fact about Moscow that almost all communal hallways in housing blocks smell bad. N suggested rotting potatoes as a description, to which I would add top notes of stale air, chemical paint and very elderly dust. This is not just in the more poorly built apartments; N lives in one of the Stalinist skyscrapers, built originally for the Soviet elite. And I recently had the honour of visiting the flat of Nikita Khruchshev's family on Tverskaya, which was very beautiful inside, but still had a relatively shabby communal staircase and hallway - and that smell. 

the art of parking 4: the complete tuck

One of the things about having been in Moscow for over two years is that - mostly - I no longer notice the anarchistic creativity of the parking compared to other European cities. However, was impressed by this full right-angle tuck and its complete blocking of the pavement (and by the evidence from the broken manhole of previous car-parking activities.)

still missing things

Err, planned to go on the protest march yesterday, but then felt too unwell to go anywhere. Don't know if its the anxiety of leaving, exhaustion from work, too much partying, or simply getting the a sore throat.... but anyway, ended up watching the demonstration on BBC, CNN, RIAN Novosti and RT. Great to see so many people out.

Lots of talk about the freezing weather conditions of course, most obviously witnessed in the utter misery of body language displayed by CNN's Phil Black and BBC's Steve Rosenberg (pictured), both obliged to report to camera without hats or scarfs.

Screenshot taken from BBC News item.

Friday, 3 February 2012

cold feet

Around minus 20 degrees, and this old guy is still coming out to feed the pigeons the very last of his bread crumbs. Another nice example of the generality that Russians (especially the older generation) will never throw anything away. But also a bit worrying, as I am pretty certain that he seems to be out and about in just his socks.

smile please

I have to include this photo of V from that evening - mainly because of the surreal experience of absent-mindedly testing out my very-cheap-compact-camera's 'smile recognition' mode on him; and finding out that it really would not take a picture until he actually smiled, and then doing it automatically without any input from me.

As for V, it went totally against the grain for him. Not the smiling bit, which he does a lot, but being forced to smile against his will by a machine.

*Finally found the definitive article on why Russians do not smile in public; consisting of 14 separate, detailed points. The meaning of a smile? Why do Russians smile so seldom?

even the dogs

Even the dogs (well the domestic ones) have their own outfits. This suit courtesy of U and O, to whom many thanks for a lovely dinner.

some things I love about Moscow - headgear heaven

This current bout of seriously cold weather means that both the eccentricity and furriness of headgear has expanded exponentially. I could hat-watch (and coat-watch) all day, especially on the metro, where the sheer density of shuffling crowds brings every kind of person - and thus assemblage of 'fashion' items - into one closely compacted viewing space. London can't even begin to match it....  

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

ballet again

Y very sweetly took me to the ballet the night before last. Swan Lake at the Stanislavsky theatre. Fab - pretty camp, with glorious over-blown sets and some real pantomime moments (especially, as it should be, the evil sorcerer).  

new hat...

Seem to be obsessively buying 'Russian' things including - finally - a proper fur hat. Err, with ears.