Category Archives: Moscow

Chaotic Thoughts

My prime reason for visiting Moscow was my Grandma’s birthday. She’s turned 86 on October 1. I happened to be walking in Moscow city centre, and a lot of VIPs were getting into the Kremlin. A passer-by asked me what the occasion was; I replied that the only occasion I could think of was my gran’s birthday, but since she wasn’t quite well-known it was unlikely they were celebrating her. We laughed, and the man asked me to send her his greetings.

Of course, I’m using this opportunity to take a holiday and to look around, to see what changed and how. Yet amidst all I hear the voices urging me to stay.

And, to be honest, I don’t know. There are many things here that I remember and love. The other day I easily navigated my city, as if I’ve only been away for a month. If I’m honest, though, had I only been away for a month, the sense of novelty would’ve been so much more palpable. Bizarrely, after seven years I neither see many changes, nor do I feel like I’ve been away for a long time.

What I did notice, and I wrote about it in my Russian post, is that people rarely smile. It’s not like they dance in the street in Manchester or anywhere in the UK, obviously. However, I must be really used to the fact that people do smile back at you and organise impromptu music and dance performances on the English side, whereas in Moscow this would most likely invite sneering remarks, or people would think you’re laughing at them rather than merely giving them a friendly smile.

People turn at me all the time, and it’s another part of my bizarre experience. I don’t feel or see many changes but in my native city I seem to be more of a stranger and foreigner than foreigners themselves. Of course, it is all a matter of finding your own circle and carving your own niche, but so far one thought proves itself true: in one way or another I have outgrown my native city.

There is nothing particularly peculiar about this. In order for our parents to be proud of us, we must outgrow them, their education, their habits, the expectations they had for us. I want my city to know me and to be proud of me, but for that I have to be larger than it, and so far this seems to be the case.

What it makes me wonder is this: exactly how and where would I fit in, should I decide to move back? And I can only recall my good pal David Edmundson-Bird who told me at the end of 2009 when I was looking for another job: stay in Manchester and spread your influence from there. Should I decide to move, it would only be to cut certain costs and to acquire certain career opportunities. Maybe to enjoy better healthcare than the UK’s NHS. But little else, methink.

Sadly or not, I have no idea, and I’m not planning to decide any time soon…

When Lenin Met Stalin…

A high profile meeting by the ice-cream stall

Moscow8, originally uploaded by loscuadernosdejulia.

it happened by the ice cream stall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow, between the Kremlin Wall and Manege Square. As you can see, meeting two figureheads of the Russian Soviet history is quite exciting even for the Russians themselves. For my part I couldn’t help taking the picture, although Vladimir Ilyich successfully evaded the eye contact.

And So, Seven Years Later…

I‘m finally in Moscow, my native city. I’ve just pondered on the power of written goals, and those of you who’ve been reading this blog since 2006 might remember that one of my New Year’s reservations that I first publicised here at the turn of 2006/2007 was to go to my place of birth. Since then the goal has never left the radar but for one reason or another it was being delayed time and again. Maybe I was sharing the goal with the wrong people, I don’t know. The fact is, this year I\ve written down that I would go to Moscow in October, and just as I began to feel that I needed to delay the trip, Fate stepped in, and voila, I’m in Moscow now.

This reminds me of a saying by Jacques Prevert:

Even if happiness forgets about you a little bit, never completely forget about happiness.

Same for goals. Accept setbacks and delays but keep pushing, and one day you will get there. If in doubt, consult me.

I’ve not been out yet really, as the flight turned to be a bit more excruciating than even I expected. I left Manchester on a late warm and sunny afternoon, only to arrive into a typically Mancunian rain over Moscow. After all, I’ve been joking for a few years that my two countries swapped weathers. Upon landing and collecting my luggage, I was greeted by several taxi drivers who offer private services to visitors. Since 1990s taxi has been a strange kind of business: although there are certified companies in Moscow, a lot of work is still carried out by ordinary drivers. The ones at the airport were trading with all the best traits of direct sales technique: broad smile, good eye contact, polite rather than excited tone of voice. Eventually I asked one of them about the terms of trade with the airport. As one would expect, airport has a share in the drivers’ profit.

What has surprised me the most until now is the fact that when I look at my photos I genuinely don’t see much difference between me at 17-20 and now. Perhaps, those who cannot phathom my age (which isn’t 55, anyway!) are right. Yet when I look at my mother, grandma, and dad I see the changes, quite drramatic. Considering that my parents are the mirror in which I look to see myself, I am reminded of Dorian Gray story. But maybe a lot of us are reminded of it when we spend so much time away from those near to us.