Category Archives: Moscow

#SafeathomeinRussia: QR-codes introduced in Moscow

We’re in the new week of quarantine, and QR-codes are now necessary to get if you need to go to work. Officially, this is due to the Muscovites’ below-average observation of quarantine. Indeed, a lot of people, especially youngsters, still go out, so now they will have to order a QR-code that will then track their movement and whereabouts.

As for me, I’m in yet another week of distant teaching. There are many advantages, and perhaps my dogs appreciate the sudden absence of people more than I do. The biggest disadvantage is the need to operate multiple devices. In the past, if we used a textbook, then I didn’t need either phone or the Internet. Today, I often use both a textbook and the Internet, and I conduct a session via a phone.

#SafeathomeinRussia: Quarantine Shuts Moscow Down

As of March 30th nobody can leave the house in Moscow, unless a matter of urgency. Dental services have stopped working for a week, just as shopping malls, entertainment centres, cultural places and restaurants and cafés of sorts. People are advised not to walk in parks, therefore all major parks have been shut down. Only shops, pet shops, pharmacies, clinics, and municipal and state services remain operational.

Needless to say, this will cause a lot of damage to businesses; however, it will also reveal just to what extent these businesses are responsible and ethical. It’s one thing to report the growing profits but a totally different thing to consider the liabilities and a force major. It’s one thing to boast a team of people and another thing to avoid lay-offs at the time of an economic crisis.

The future will show what Russian businesses can withstand this frightening check on their skills. In the meantime, we’re all bracing up to a week off work… that may be extended, for all we know. I went shopping yesterday, so I’m going to stay at home mainly, except for short voyages to walk my dogs.

#SafeathomeinRussia: How We’re Getting Through

I’ve been working from home this week. It’s slightly challenging, delightfully novel and surprisingly wholesome. I start work in the morning and finish any time between 4.30pm and 8pm. And I still have time for other things.

I’m a bit concerned about the attitude of some new “divines” to coronavirus. They preach this is a great, albeit scary, way to “clear the planet”. Look, they say, dolphins are coming back to Venice, isn’t this amazing?! Sure, some people die, and still more will if they are too rigid. Be flexible, be liquid, learn to work online, and chances are, you’ll get through alright.

The reason these preachings perplex me slightly is because there is strong evidence of a new kind of biological weapon being tested. And as much as I’m glad for both Venice and dolphins, I feel anxious as to what the future holds.

However, I agree with the sages: we need to be flexible. In the time of great changes it’s futile to try and maintain status quo, ancien régime, the old order, you name it. I’ve just had a thought that this pandemic may hammer the nail in the EU’s coffin, perhaps penultimate yet. One of my students is going through his personal upheaval, and he’s managing it poorly, so I reason with him thus: everything that is yours will remain yours. Sadly, at time like this it is only us that remain ours; the rest may go.

I’ve been through these crises a few times already, and I’m grateful for the skills that will undoubtedly see me through. I’m grateful for my faith, my work, my talent. These are the things that will always remain mine.

I’ve just been through the posts I wrote in 2008 and 2009, and it’s wonderful to see how the above mentioned skills helped me then. Feel free to #readmyblog and find all the inspiration and support you need. And I’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in Russia (particularly Moscow) and how things are going for me this time.

Take care and #staysafeathome

Belated Snowfall

A late January snowfall in Moscow

There’s a chance that Moscow people will enjoy some proper winter weather soon. The first sign is the snow which is well overdue but is nonetheless welcome. I may try to be funny and say that Britain with the Brexit has waved goodbye to Europe and various European organisations, like PAEC, by sending a heatwave that saw the warmest December and January in all Russian history. But no, things are getting back to normal here, while we’re yet to see what lies ahead for Great Britain.

Five Habits I Wish I Had Not Lost

green-red-blue-patent-leather-high-heeled-shoes
One of my favourite pairs of shoes

Over the years I’ve waved goodbye to a few habits that I now wish I hadn’t lost. I cannot say the loss causes too much pain; however, it’d be better if I could regain the skills and renew the routines. So, as I’m sharing my trouble with you, will you please also let me know if you ever had a similar problem and what you did.

1.Wearing high-heels

I became very wary about heels after I’d hurt my ankle in 2008. Then in 2010 I worked in direct sales, we had to walk fast, so high-heels were not fit for purpose. I resumed wearing heels between late 2010 and 2013, but then I changed jobs. I started teaching, and in all four years of my working for a local community centre I had to walk and run once again, and flat footwear was best. I do love high-heels, and I’d love to get back into habit of wearing them regularly, but I’ve also got used to moving fast or philandering lazily, and 8cm heels are just no good for that.

2.Keeping abreast of all things social

Can you believe I used to be an SMM manager for nearly 4 years? Or that I used to run a very socmed friendly blog and, generally, was very active on many social channels? Some of them, like Klout, have since stopped existing; I still have accounts with others, but I’m not quite active there at all. I’m getting reaccustomed to the pleasure of sharing things on Reddit, Pinterest and Facebook, as much as reading up on SocMed trends. However, as my interests have firmly shifted to my own literary endeavours and teaching, every bit of new industry info feels like a huge overload.

3.Travelling far and wide

Whatever happened to those itchy feet? Admittedly, I needed some rest from my peregrinations. On the other hand, it now feels like an act of heroism to get myself out of the house and out and about. The main reason for my being sort of tied down is time: I can only go on day trips, and Russia is not England. There you can travel from Manchester to Edinburgh in 3 hours, and Scotland is almost like a different country (or so it may become after Brexit). Here in Russia you can only travel to smaller cities and towns, like Kaluga, Yaroslavl, Podolsk, Ivanovo and Tver, and, regardless of certain differences, it’s the same Central Russia as most people know it. It will take you 5 hours to get to St. Petersburg by train, and if you wish to travel to Kazan, Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Yekaterinburg or Vladivostok, it’ll take you even more. I read and view travelogs, but it’s not the same as going somewhere.

4.Cooking at home

This is a difficult one. Living in Russia was not good for my kitchen abilities because my granny and especially my mother both used to be great cooks. A small kitchen space didn’t help, either. I started cooking in England where I could have the whole kitchen to myself. Back in Moscow, I only cook now and again, and I do wish I could do it more often. Each time I gaze at the mouth-watering food photos on Pinterest I wish I could bake, fry and grill every single dish. Sadly, when we were redoing the kitchen following a terrible flood, we chose not to have an oven. But perhaps I can do something about it.

5.Spending time online

I agree with those who say we need a break from the Internet. There are paper books to read, and someone like me is much better at writing on paper than using a typewriter or computer. Still, we need to be online, as life is happening there, too. There are things to which I don’t want to react, but there are others that certainly require my attention.

So, here are my 5 habits that I want to regain. What about you? Have you lost any good or useful habits? Have you regained them or decided to part with them for good? Share your story in comments!

My Sunset Photo Is Published in a Local Newspaper

Hyperlocal news has taken off in Moscow in the last couple of years. And so this week I’m a contributor to My Neighbourhood newspaper with my photo of the sunset seen from my window. I’ve said previously that I’ve always watched breathtaking sunsets in Moscow. This was something that I terribly missed, while in England. It’s all the more pleasing that the local news paid attention to one of these splendid captures and has made it available to everyone to see.

2018 Xmas: The Terrifying Beauty of Industrialisation


This was the view from my window a few days ago. I wrote once that I had always been presented with a difficult choice between some lovely scenery of my district and the ugly industrial sites overshadowing it.

Looking at this photo that came out rather well made me recall George Orwell’s admitting that industry can, in fact, be designed to look beautiful, in order to conceal everything that is unwholesome about it. And indeed, many plants and factories today are built to be pleasing to the eye. They are no longer those terrifying gigantic blocks of brick or steel; instead, they are often light in both colour and shape to look elegant and inviting. To the younger generations industry has nothing to do with unhealthy vapours, low pay and child labour. 

The picture thus illustrates my favourite topic of what we choose to focus on. Considering this is the view I am most likely to see from my window, the question is: what do I look at? Do I look at the thermal electric station in the distance and pity myself, or do I look at the trees, the vast terrain and the sunset and enjoy the natural beauty? 

I am pretty sure you know my answer.