It’s a fine line between love and hate. Initially I hated Moscow but within a day, I fell in love. This love will last though (wink).
Upon arrival in Moscow, July 19, 2011.
Ok, so I arrived at the DME airport and they let me in without any questions, which was good because there’s no way I can understand a god damn thing these people say. I try to speak French to them, it’s that bad. I made it to the train, no problem but I chose the seat facing the wrong way, smart traveller that I am. It was like riding the opposite way in the back of a volvo when you were a kid. I get sick all over again thinking about it. So wrong way or not, I was on the train going downtown. I saw many decrepit buildings on route but I also was happy to be here (my motherland?). I put a ? mark there because the theme here is “I did it, so you don’t have to”. Ok, back to the story. Elena was waiting for me and we then waited for a cab. The cab, which is actually a guy in his car, or Lada, or rickshaw, took us to my Vegas hotel (about 45 minutes later). Traffic here is bad and the sites en route were not interesting. My hotel is good, very weird but after Elena showed me how to flush the toilet, it was magic. Elena and I ate down the “road” and I’m back at the hotel trying to work amidst the cacophony of noises here. Tomorrow we go to Red Square, do an interview and then dinner with Peter. I’ll have more glowing reports of the friendly people (not the Russians though) and the sites and sounds.
Hotel Cosmos (or Las Vegas, as I renamed it)
As you know, I’m not a big fan of germs or bugs for that matter. I dutifully checked my bed for bed bugs, and my luggage is sleeping on the bed next to me. Last night, I hear a lil something in my bathroom. You guessed it, I’m sharing my room with cockroaches. Ok, no problem. I crunch it under my bath mat and then proceed to spread all my towels in every place I walk in the room, it’s like a Russian yellow brick road. OK, I’m safe. Get into bed and look up. Yes, more bugs. I kill as many as possible and then try to sleep. Actually I’m ok but aren’t you proud. I also need to mention at midnight my Asian neighbour and my Russian cleaning lady (sounds the same at high volume at midnight) are vacuuming and having a fight. Maybe he also had cockroaches but was too scared to kill them himself? There’s no way in hell I’m letting her clean my room.
So I slept, I had breakfast and now I’m working a little. The internet is not excellent but heh, I’m here to break my ankle on their sidewalks, or get lost on their insane subways system. This is my first real day here, so I’m sure I’ll have lots to share. Mom suggested I come home early, but I think I need to gather more material for the book I’ll write about my adventures. I will be cured of my love for all things East for sure, which should make all of you happy since I will be vacationing in France, Hawaii and Palm Springs for the rest of my life now. I ate kefir for breakfast though, a bit of a let down because at home it’s quite nice with fruit but here they serve it plain. Speaking of plain, the ladies here will love Panty by Post, since their beauty rivals French women. The men don’t even register at all, they are not good looking and like to pee on the street (I haven’t seen this, only the scent of it).
Time to search out water, the tap water is no good. Then venture to the subway to meet Elena. At least it’s colour coded but they don’t always stick to the same colours per map. I’ve been warned by Elena. Who are these people? Imagine two people yelling at each other really fast, this is how two Russians speak to each other but they are happy. No more French sing song, phooey, these people are hysterics!!!
PPS I will be bringing nothing home from Russia as gift and please have the fumigators ready at the airport with some DDT to spray over me and my bags. Though nothing will touch the floor, we can’t be too careful.
By now, I suspect strongly, many of you are enjoying my morning and evening missives and you are wondering what happened to your daily news from Moscow. Wonder no more, though I’m tired, I will try to catch you up on my shananaginans (improper word usage but it’s the best word for what I’ve been up to) and misbehaviours in this mysterious city.
Elena at the Vogue Cafe near Red Square.
I have now become almost one person with Elena. I even think in her adorable English accent and I use her expressions while I talk almost constantly from the second I see her. She is the perfect companion for me, she laughs at my jokes, thinks I’m brilliant and she is super interesting and interested. This seems to be a trait of the people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, they are curious, engaged and very present. I am very impressed with this nation, but Elena reminds me she has taken me to the best places and we have had an exceptional time. Did I mention that this city is full of the most beautiful women on the planet!!! France is ok, the girls are a bit plain compared to the Russian women. It’s a totally cruel thing too, because the men are the ugliest on the planet, complete shlubs times about a billion. When I am wealthy I will sponsor Elena to come to work as my personal assistant, which is what she did for me here (she’s my friend too). My company operations are in great hands with her and Peter.
Our office in Central Moscow.
Yesterday began at 11AM with Peter in the only subway station I trust myself to get to every day. By the way, they are very impressed I take the subway and find me to be not really a princess (shocking I know). I have proven my travel skills to them by taking the same route every day and then getting picked up by Elena. Some really bad travelers must come to Moscow because their subway is absolutely fantastic, if you can read Russian, which is a problem. I am starting to recognize words and I can be mistaken for a Russian daily now, which is an incredible compliment in this city of amazon women. We saw a girl last night in the bar that looked like a giraffe, she was like a Kenyan, only white! Oh yes, with the exception of my hotel (the local Las Vegas type place) this place is basically completely white. I have seen 2 Africans and some Asians from Russian speaking territories around here. It’s very strange.
The fab subway in the city.
After Peter and I had a meeting in his office (very nice), Elena picked me up and we went to view the club where the launch event will take place. The Club Pacha is very exclusive, in an area littered with black SUVs. I have never seen a place like this. Features are: private toilets for VIP guests who have booths, inside the booth when you sit on the toilet you can look up and watch the dancers through the glass (no lie), lava-like ceiling, booths with fur, oyster bar…you get the picture. This is one sexy place and later that night we were treated to complimentary wine and champagne (whole bottles) and our own booth by the dance floor. The production coordinator of the PBP fashion show was Miss Russia in 1994 and she’s lovely dressed in a bohemian outfit complete with animal teeth and ribbons. When she walks she gets caught on everything, so she’s a hassle to travel around with. After the Pacha walkthrough with Miss Russia and two photographers, we went to Cup and Cake. Another freekin’ fantastically creative place your imagination wouldn’t even think of if you were high on acid. This place is jam packed with out of this world spots (and no I did not do any drugs, of course not, I just really am in love with Moscow). Cup and Cake is a high-end boutique and eating place. I had the best cafe latte in my life and I now dream about being locked there over night to sleep in the cute chairs and sip tea in every mug. It’s like walking into a cafe Anthropologie. After Cup and Cake we went for dinner at the synagogue’s restaurant called Jerusalem (dumb name huh;).
The Cup and Cake coffee shop.
After an excellent meal, Elena and I went to meet our videographer Azamat to shoot our Russian reel. We met him at about 8 and began shooting at 9PM Friday night on a bridge over the Moscow River. People here will come to meet you, will work at 9PM Friday night, they are flexible and so sweet about it. They are very civilized people in Moscow, I really like it. Azamat is a darling and drove us to the bridge to shoot. His car is actually a moving chair, it’s that small, but beggars can’t be choosers (I ride the subway here, nothing fancy). He actually just stops his car in the lane on the bridge, puts on his hazards and that’s totally fine. He is “parking” on the bridge. These people are looney about their parking. I saw someone move a parking barrier, then park in the spot. It’s just every man for himself here. They park on the curb, in the pedestrian cross walk…wherever they can squeeze their cars. They also have shit-box type cars next to fancy masserati types, it’s a city of contrast for sure.
Elena doing last minute make up touch ups before we shoot our reels.
Fancy car next to a Russian Lada, not fancy car.
I’m getting a bit tired, so the rest of this long email will be bullet points:
-Video was very good, I said my lines about 50 times and so did Elena. I now basically know my speech as if I was born saying it, “Moscow is amazing. The people are….” blah blah blah. It was great and Azamat thinks we are genius type business executives. Kidding. There is no way to control my hair in this city and compared to the Russian women, I dress like a postal worker. I’m basically a potato sack here. Sad but true and I accept this (wink).
-After the video we finished around midnight, we take a drive and then go to Club Pacha to be VIP from 1AM. Can you believe I can do this at my old age?
Entrace to Club Pacha taken during the day.
-Club Pacha we drink excessively with Peter and then Elena and I dance until 5AM. Elena actually had a nap in our booth at one point. All good, I danced with Peter and the rest of the people at the club (did I mention that there were Spanish men at the bar?). I have the best moves in Russia, since the people seem pretty uncoordinated and the women are trapped in heels, so they can’t move much. It’s my only advantage here.
-leave Pacha at 5AM, sun coming up, talk to people on the street (some of whom are now my facebook friends), Elena and I get in cab and we go back to my Las Vegas style hotel and sleep until 1:30 the next day.
-wake up, hung over like you wouldn’t believe, shake it off, do some work, go back out there baby!
-we eat lunch in Casino, this amazing restaurant where I eat the best sushi of my life and Azamat meets us for strawberry gelato. The bill was $200, so I decide not to eat for the rest of the day to make up for this. Moscow is not cheap but I have decided to go to the best places, big surprise.
Lunch with Elena and Azamat at Casino.
-Elena and I walk in old Arbat street and I get my palm read, here’s the future: 6 children in my “program” but I will have 2 girls an 1 boy (where are the other ones?), marry at 37, a good marriage, 40s and 50s will be awesome (my word, not the old Russian lady), lots of travel, plenty of money, I’m smart, kind, men like me (hee hee) and I will live until 88 and not die of sickness. She also said I was a good driver and I wouldn’t die in a plane crash (nice!).
Getting my palm read on Old Arbat Street.
-Elena and I walked more in the cool Moscow breeze and then I took the subway home to catch up on work and missives (this is like a thesis, sorry about that).
-tomorrow is my last day, so we’ll take a boat trip and then have a final business dinner at Cafe Pushkin
My meal was a work of art.
-Elena and I will share a Mercedes “cab” to the airport on Monday.
Much love and thanks for reading my essay, or skimming it…I would (wink).
Nats or Natasha as I will now asked to be called.
A view of the city from a restaurant nick named "Golden Brains".