Monday, August 09, 2010

Moscow Is Burning

Well, not exactly Moscow itself, but the peat bogs and forests around it are blazing merrily. I was there last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but the air didn't really get bad until Tuesday.

Sunday I arrived int he afternoon and met an old female friend for dinner -- spending nearly $75 on sushi at a mid-range restaurant, as is the dating custom in Russia -- but several other people I know in Moscow were busy working extensive hours trying to keep up with the vastly inflated cost of living, and didn't have time to meet me. (I had wanted to arrive on Friday morning and have the weekend in Moscow, but the date of August 1st was the entry date on my visa, hence the extra days in Amsterdam.)

I managed to get in some wandering around Red Square on Monday -- the smog wasn't too noticeable, as the wind was up that day -- which happened to be Paratrooper Day, when the Blue Beret soldiers notoriously get drunk and smash anything within sight. This is the New New Russia, however -- no drinking on the streets. The Blue Berets in Red Square and vicinity were mostly sober and well-behaved, although still swimming in fountains as is their wont. (There have been record high temperatures all summer, all over Russia, but it didn't feel particularly uncomfortable in the evening.)

Now let me say -- I do often criticize Russian babes, and I don't know if it's accurate to say that Russian girls are the most beautiful in the world, per se -- but I can definitely say that the percentage of slim, good-looking, well-dressed 17 - 26 year old girls seems to be much higher on the streets of Russia than any other city I have visited. I mean, you see some lookers in Amsterdam, and even occasionally in America, but here you see one every few meters, stalking around on high heels at bus stops, supermarkets, cigarette kiosks. . .

Monday evening, I bought more Sushi for my old girlfriend from Vodkaberg, and she brought a blonde friend with her back to my hotel room, and after I provided her with a souvenir Faded Glory American flag t-shirt and some duty-free perfume, some duty-free whiskey got drunk and there was some topless dancing, ass smacking and general fooling around.

Then at 01.00am, they both announced without preamble that they had to leave, and did so.

Nonplussed, I jerked off and went to sleep.

The next day the smell of smoke in the air was so acrid and nauseating, that I didn't manage to do any sightseeing, mostly hanging around the hotel sauna and fitness club before meeting another female friend in the evening. She had promised to spend the night, but upon arrival said she couldn't and hope that I understood, that she had a boyfriend now. She said she hoped I wasn't disappointed.

"Disappointed, but not offended," I promised her as we had dinner and drinks in the hotel bar.

The next morning I woke up at 6.00am, heart racing and breathing labored. The smell of smoke was thick in my room, despite the air-con.

I went and looked out the window and the smog was so thick I could barely see anything, even though the sun had just risen. I turned the air-conditioning on high and went to the bathroom; my eyes were blood-shot red and watering.

I wondered how close I, and most of Moscow, were to collapsing from carbon monoxide poisoning. I went into the shower and put a washcloth over my mouth and nose. I relaxed as the steam filled the room and I dozed lying under the shower for a while. (One nice thing about Russia is the endless centrally provided hot water. Until, of course, they shut it off for a month at a time.)

When I got out of the shower, the sun was higher and the sky had cleared some. I went back to sleep for a few hours, then got up and gorged myself at the huge breakfast buffet, and by 4.00pm the plane was leaving smog-choked Moscow to take me to Vodkaberg, my old home of 9 years.


Anonymous said...

It seems your experience in Moscow relates to a lot of your ESL adventures: blurry eyed, crude and bad for your health. Still, 99.99% of people's lives can't be put into writing without boring people to shit. But I'm still reading this one.

J. E. Badelaire said...

Talk abut surreal and fascinating in equal measures, and many condolences about the poor "state of play", so to speak. What good is a vacation if the post-party fun falls through?

Anonymous said...

I am totally in love... for today only. Go, English Teacher X, go.

TEFL SecretAgent said...

you came so close yet so far in Moscow then ;)

Anonymous said...

Admit it, you love using the word "nonplussed"

- English man in Moscow - said...

I have tried to work as a teacher here but they all want Celta or Tefel I have experience any ideas? to find work in Moscow