Thursday, September 18, 2008

From Our Moscow Bureau

It's been a while since I've written of any strange or interesting adventures that I've experienced while in Russia. To be honest, I think that I've become accustomed to the weirdness. I realize that I am a bit weird myself so a lot of times I let strange or odd situations pass by without noticing, or caring for that matter. A few interesting things that I have noticed recently…

1. I have found that nobody pays any attention to signs. Whether they are driving down the street or walking through the metro, people go wherever they want to go. More than once I have had to hug the sides of buildings as cars have pulled up onto the sidewalks of Moscow and treated those sidewalks as their own personal HOV lane. In many cases the cars just park on the sidewalks which force the pedestrians to have to walk on the street. I can tell you that walking on a busy street here is not for the faint of heart. It's like playing a Russian version of Frogger, only with your life!

In the metro, my biggest pet peeve is people walking out the entrance door and vice versa. It drives me crazy when I enter a busy subway station only to meet some old lady (babushka) going the wrong direction, pushing her way against the tide of people, to the wrong door. Or better yet, when we both arrive at the door at the same time and she then proceeds in slamming the door open in my face narrowly missing hitting me in the nose. Good times! I love you babushka, I truly do…

2. Dr. Pepper can now be bought on the open market here! In the past I had to sneak them into the country in my suitcase like some drug mule making his way from Colombia. The other option was to sweet talk someone into bringing me a case from the US Military Commissary. However, now that it can be found down the street from my flat, my dentist can stop worrying about his children's college fund. I've drank enough DP this month to keep him busy for years, or at least until my teeth fall out.

The downside is that they are $4 per can. With that sort of cost you would think it would slow me down…but it hasn't.

3. Pharmacies here are just like in Mexico. I wanted to stock up on a few antibiotics for an upcoming vacation that I am planning, but I didn't want to have to set up a doctor's appointment (unless the Dr's last name is Pepper) to get the prescription. So, I went to the European Medical Center and wrote on a Post-It Note the drug that I was looking for. The lady behind the counter read the prescription aloud and then filled it with no questions. It was at that point that my conscience started to work on me as I pondered the correct spelling of Marijuana and Codeine. I decided to go for Morphine instead…just kidding.

On a sad note, the days are getting shorter. The temperature is starting to drop to uncomfortable levels. And the girls are starting to wear long coats again. I can't tell you how sad all of this makes me, especially the last part. I'm not looking forward to the snow, the sleet, and the loss of feeling in my nose, toes, and fingers on my commute to work… This is Russia.

~The Moscow Correspondent

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