The World's #1 Russian, Ukrainian & Eastern European Discussion & Information Forum - RUA!

This Is the Premier Discussion Forum on the Net for Information and Discussion about Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Discuss Culture, Politics, Travelling, Language, International Relationships and More. Chat with Travellers, Locals, Residents and Expats. Ask and Answer Questions about Travel, Culture, Relationships, Applying for Visas, Translators, Interpreters, and More. Give Advice, Read Trip Reports, Share Experiences and Make Friends.

Author Topic: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow  (Read 1418 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Larry

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5853
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Just Looking
  • Trips: 5-10
What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« on: January 15, 2014, 01:38:06 PM »
This is an article written by a US-based journalist who was born in Moscow but moved to the US as a child and was educated here.  She went to Moscow in her twenties as a journalist and lived there for several years.  Her worldview is Western, of the type common among those inhabiting prestigious universities here.  Here is her long description of what she will miss and won't miss about Moscow:

Quote
What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow

I will leave Moscow after three years of living here, a few weeks shy of the day, thirty years ago, that I was born here. In between, I managed to have half a childhood here, a whole life in America, and a fellowship that brought me to Moscow, on September 12, 2009, for nine months. Instead, I stayed for three years. I never expected to stay that long, and I never expected that these years would make me a real, live journalist. (Medicine was always the completely unrealistic back-up plan.) I never expected to interview the kinds of people I did, I never expected to be able to speak real, educated adult Russian well enough to go on local television, I never expected to see the kinds of things I did, I never expected to write this much, and I certainly never expected that it would be so hard to leave. I never expected to fall in love.

After a fourteen-hour journey via Zurich, I will land at Dulles International Airport, and I will begin my life in Washington, D.C. I will get a new beat and new colleagues. I will make new friends. Perhaps I will come back to Moscow for the occasional story, but my life will be in the Chesapeake basin. And, after months of heartache, Moscow will slowly become a bright blur, fodder for dinner party conversation, or a handshake to inaugurate me into the secret society of all the other American journalists who have come through this place and come away transformed. It will become yet another factoid about me.

But folded deep into those anecdotes will be the fact that this foreign city is also my native city, a place where I feel both completely at home and completely alien, a place I’ve loved and hated for so long. Buried in there will be all the details I will forget with delight and remember with longing. And before my memory irons them out, I want to make note of them.

When I leave Moscow, I won’t miss the traffic and the pollution and the boom-town prices, but I’ll miss that a gypsy cab for $6 still gets you just about anywhere.

I’ll miss the beautifully Soviet metro stations—the stained glass, the marble, the utopian, gilt mosaics. I’ll miss the fact that you rarely have to wait more than a minute for a train. I won’t miss stepping inside at nine in the morning past a cloud of peregar, the smell of metabolized alcohol.

I won’t miss how much Russians drink, but I will miss drinking with Russians.

I won’t miss the late-night debates in which you find yourself falling down an epistemological black hole. Down there, nothing is provable and nothing is knowable, except for your sparring partner’s increasingly bizarre pronouncements. In Moscow, I have debated the following topics: whether or not the archived kill-lists with Stalin’s signature are forgeries; the allegation that I am naïve for thinking that American traffic cops generally don’t take bribes; that I am a C.I.A. spy; and the reason America is a more successful country than Somalia (hint: it wasn’t founded by black people). I’ve also been asked to prove how smoking causes lung cancer.

I won’t miss the casual racism* and the relax-I-was-just-joking anti-Semitism. I will miss the fact that just about everyone can do a killer Georgian accent and knows a truly wonderful Jewish joke.

I will also miss the fact that, with the anti-Kremlin protests of the last few months, there is still a place in the world where you can debate the things the West has long ago stopped talking about and long ago started taking for granted; that, here, you have conversations full of big words and basic concepts like “freedom” and whether government officials can have fully private lives.

I won’t miss the fact that abstraction can get boring.

I won’t miss the casual misogyny**, but I will miss the fact that it makes for excellent copy, as it did when Bolshoi prima Anastasia Volochkova quit the ruling United Russia party and the party responded as follows: “Women, like children, are susceptible to changes in mood. In this sense, Anastasia Volochkova is a real woman.” (As one American friend here once noted, “It’s like ‘Mad Men,’ but with worse clothes.”)

I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation. The medieval beauty of the architecture wears thin when there’s nothing to contrast it to, and when you know of the abuses happening under its aegis. A monopoly is a monopoly is a monopoly.

I won’t miss the fact that Jewish culture and Jewish people have largely disappeared from this city, and that another monopoly—Chabad—has become the only way to be Jewish here.

I will miss the fact that, when you go to someone’s birthday party, you have to bring them a gift or flowers. It gets expensive, but the moment when you hand it over is so nice. And when it’s your birthday, you may have to pay for the food and the booze, but you can barely get the flowers home, to say nothing of the gifts.

I won’t miss the fact that there is no trust in the Russian system: not in institutions, not in people. I will miss the strength of the bonds it breeds when you find that trust.

I will miss the fact that Russians are not afraid of what we in America nervously call “the L-word,” or the messes it can get you into.

I won’t miss the fact that seemingly every educated, professional woman my age happens to also be a single mom. I will miss the fact that kids are a natural part of everyone’s life here, rather than a special, perfectly-planned project.

I won’t miss the fact that nothing is planned here, that everything on every level is slapdash and knee jerk, that everything happens, as the Russians say, “from the  :censored: .” I will miss the fact that this means you don’t have to plan with whom you’ll have dinner two weeks from now, and that your social life can be spontaneous, organic, and sincere.

I will miss the strange and colorful expressions. (And that, as they say, is “speaking truth to the uterus.”)

I won’t miss the fact that there is only a handful of decent bars and restaurants in this city of 15 million. I will miss that this means that most of them are like Cheers, and that you are guaranteed to bump into half your friends on any given night. It also makes you a better cook.

I will miss ordering water in a restaurant and having the waiter ask you if you want it “room temperature, or cold?” with a look on their faces that suggests that opening the latter door will lead you to a desolate place of upper respiratory demise (see below).

I will miss the way that Russian journalists will readily drink beer with you till 3 am on a school night. I won’t miss thinking about what it does for their product, or mine.

I will miss the addiction to social networks and text messages like “Look at my FB page!” I won’t miss the loss of productivity. Actually, I will.

I thought I wouldn’t miss the ubiquity of emoticons – especially, the ones with no eyes – but I was wrong.))))

I will miss the heels, but not the painful fact of wearing them on a long Moscow trek.

I won’t miss the bad lip jobs and the bad Botox jobs, the obvious hair extensions, the mullets that have slowly been beaten back into neck bangs, the range of men’s footwear, which ranges from pointy to cheese-grate, the male purses, the men’s jeans that are tight and loose in absolutely paradoxical places, respectively. I will miss the people watching. A friend visiting from New York confirmed: Moscow beats the Big Apple with its manicured hands tied behind its back.

I will miss the amazing medical theories I’ve heard here. Pimples? Try massaging your face with semen. Migraine? Must’ve eaten too much mayonnaise. Gynecological cancer? Too much lady-stress. I won’t, however, miss the fact that I’m afraid to go to the doctor’s office here. (Once, my friends’ six-year-old daughter broke her arm and, when the doctor saw the x-ray, he did a double take, pulled a medical reference book off the shelf, and started feverishly reading it. A friend of a friend was mistakenly told he was HIV-positive, and lived with this diagnosis for about a week.)

I will miss the fact that you can get antibiotics and just about anything else over the counter. I won’t miss people breathing down your neck in the pharmacy line, asking why you picked out such expensive medicine. (There is no word in Russian for “privacy.”)

I won’t miss needing my passport for everything, including returning a pair of flip-flops to the store. I will miss bank tellers looking at my American passport and asking me where the Russian is.

I won’t miss the fact that in Russia, the absence of the rule of law is sublimated into the tyranny of the procedural guideline and the dictatorship of the technicality. Without the right notarized slip of paper, the saying goes, “you’re a doodie.”

I won’t miss the fact that no one ever seems to have any change, especially cashiers. I love that it’s made me good at arithmetic again.

I won’t miss the aggression and rudeness in every interaction. I will miss the creative sarcasm it engenders in all participants.

I will miss the twisted, clever Russian sense of humor.

I will miss the laser precision with which Russians answer questions. “Isn’t there a café here somewhere?” “Yes.” “…and where is it?” “Second floor.”

I will miss the long and freezing Russian winters and the heat-generating habits they inspire. I will especially miss the warm, short Moscow summers, when it gets dark close to midnight and the whole city seems to live in outdoor cafes.

I will miss how tough Moscow makes you, and how miserable, and the way it teaches you to hunt out and savor the good. I will miss the dizzying happiness born of those moments. In three years, I’ve never seen anyone crying in the street
.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/107651/what-i-will-and-wont-miss-about-living-moscow

* racism
** misogyny.   She sounds like some RUA members  :chuckle:

I'd like to hear a Georgian accent. 

Online NS1

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 6033
  • Country: ca
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 01:49:40 PM »
Thanks for the post.
Great read :thumbsup:
There is nothing permanent except change.

Offline Mikeav8r

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2711
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down...
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2014, 03:08:51 PM »
It could have easily been titled "Russia" rather than "Moscow" as only a few points were specific, but I found myself nodding in all cases. 

A good read.
Two Favorites:
1.  You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, therefor you should listen twice as much as you speak. -Confucius
2.  If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans. - Anon


Online sparky114

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4185
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2014, 11:34:13 PM »
That is a great find, so many things there that you encounter on a day to day basis whilst living in Russia as a whole. :bow:
Today is only one day in a life of happiness

Mark

Offline Manny

  • Moderator
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 16394
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 01:37:33 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.

Offline Slumba

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2345
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • 10:27 AM
  • Status: Just Looking
  • Trips: 1-5
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 01:54:22 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.

I wasn't quite sure what her problem was with that, given all the things she lumped in there together.  And aren't there a number of Indians, Chechens, Uzbeks (remember - don't give them money or matches!), etc. there?
Anchors Rewoven

Offline Larry

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5853
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Status: Just Looking
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 02:00:04 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.

I wasn't quite sure what her problem was with that, given all the things she lumped in there together.  And aren't there a number of Indians, Chechens, Uzbeks (remember - don't give them money or matches!), etc. there?

She is from that social/political class that worships at the altar of "diversity".  A place must be condemned if it has too many white people, etc.  I suppose Moscow's immigrants from the Caucasus don't count to satisfy her rarified tastes.

Offline Mikeav8r

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2711
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down...
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 02:03:08 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.

I wasn't quite sure what her problem was with that, given all the things she lumped in there together.  And aren't there a number of Indians, Chechens, Uzbeks (remember - don't give them money or matches!), etc. there?

Yes there are.  One received a rather unpleasant surprise when he tried to pick my pocket at a Red Square security checkpoint on NYE  ;D

I don't see anything wrong with the scenario she described either.  Would she feel more white Christians and Asian Buddhists were required in Mecca as well?  (:)

Larry beat me to the reasoning...I agree.
Two Favorites:
1.  You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, therefor you should listen twice as much as you speak. -Confucius
2.  If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans. - Anon

Offline mhr7

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 907
  • Country: ru
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Committed
  • Trips: Resident
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 02:12:14 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.
I disagree. One of the things I always enjoy about being back in the States is the ethnic and cultural diversity of the population. I don't worship at the alter of diversity but I fully understand her point. In Georgia, I see the same things everyday with few differences. It becomes a little boring.
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." -- Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Online Dogsoldier

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3558
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Україна
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 10-20
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 02:32:10 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.
I disagree. One of the things I always enjoy about being back in the States is the ethnic and cultural diversity of the population. I don't worship at the alter of diversity but I fully understand her point. In Georgia, I see the same things everyday with few differences. It becomes a little boring.

I disagree. Multi cultism is crap. Some parts of this country are like living in Lagos or downtown Dhaka.
All I know is that Moby knows nothing - Plato.
Wiz loves talking out of his A******e - Me.

Offline Mikeav8r

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2711
  • Country: us
  • Gender: Male
  • Keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down...
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 5-10
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 02:36:10 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.
I disagree. One of the things I always enjoy about being back in the States is the ethnic and cultural diversity of the population. I don't worship at the alter of diversity but I fully understand her point. In Georgia, I see the same things everyday with few differences. It becomes a little boring.

Venture on over to one of the Stans or down to Turkey for a change of scenery  ;D  I hear what you are saying, but seeing a different icon or symbol on top of a building doesn't make it much different to me and as far as the diversity and culture, we are all the same on the inside so I could care less what we all look like on the outside...if all the same..no biggie.  FWIW, I think I saw more Asians in Moscow than I did white...it may have been a locale (southeast part of town) thing but it was what it was :)

Edit:  DS brought up a good point as well.  I choose where I live...and if I wanted to live in Lagos or in my case, Mexico City, I guess I would move there.  Nothing against immigration and opportunity for all..but I have choices too :)
Two Favorites:
1.  You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, therefor you should listen twice as much as you speak. -Confucius
2.  If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans. - Anon

Online Dogsoldier

  • Supporting Member
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3558
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Україна
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 10-20
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 02:40:51 PM »
For example: the ethnic mix of London. (Edited)

2011 United Kingdom Census[144]
Country of birth   Population
 United Kingdom   5,175,677
 India   262,247
 Poland   158,300
 Ireland   129,807
 Nigeria   114,718
 Pakistan   112,457
 Bangladesh   109,948
 Jamaica   87,467
 Sri Lanka   84,542
 France   66,654
 South Africa   66,654
 Kenya   66,311
 Somalia   65,333
 United States   63,920
 Italy   62,050
 Ghana   62,896
 Turkey   59,596
 Germany   55,476
 Australia   53,959
 Romania   44,848
 Philippines   44,199
 Portugal   41,041
 Lithuania   39,817
 China   39,452
 Iran   37,339
 Spain   35,880
 Hong Kong   26,435
 Zimbabwe   21,039
All I know is that Moby knows nothing - Plato.
Wiz loves talking out of his A******e - Me.

Offline ashbyclarke

  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2185
  • Country: gb
  • Gender: Male
  • Spouses Country: Russia
  • Status: Married
  • Trips: 20+
Re: What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 03:23:01 PM »
Quote
I won’t miss living in a city where virtually everyone is white and wearing an Orthodox Christian cross, where the only places of worship you see are the onion domes of Orthodox churches, and where the Church and the state are in such close cooperation.

Sounds alright to me.
I disagree. One of the things I always enjoy about being back in the States is the ethnic and cultural diversity of the population. I don't worship at the alter of diversity but I fully understand her point. In Georgia, I see the same things everyday with few differences. It becomes a little boring.

I disagree. Multi cultism is crap. Some parts of this country are like living in Lagos or downtown Dhaka.

It's multi religion that's the crap, then there's those who follow no religion and lead a life of self worship without any regard to others.

England faces a huge uphill battle in the future against religion and self worship, such strong opinions, wasn't very well thought out many years ago, nothing a UKIP party can't put right for the longer term  :ROFL:
I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're gonna feel all day - Frank Sinatra