The first thing I heard as we stepped out of the train in Moscow was an anti-terrorist warning: a recording of a rather melodious woman's voice, saying that as a precaution against terrorism, we should not accept passages from strangers.
They've had this recording for a long time, but after a year in Kyiv, it did sound crazy. And - it was the first taste of the perfect Russian they all seem to have here (in Lviv, the first taste of the perfect Ukrainian also used to happen to me at the train station).
The cab driver said Kyiv was beautiful, we said there were too many cars there now, and then he asked this: "What do khokhly call those we call 'the new Russians'?" (For those who don't know, khokhly is a somewhat derogatory term for Ukrainians - I choke on it but also believe it is often used not to offend, but to avoid sounding too politically correct; "the new Russians" - noviye russkiye - are the nouveaux riches.) We laughed and Mishah at first said that there was no special term, but then clarified: "We, too, call them 'the new Russians'."
As we were unloading, the cab driver asked how life was in Kyiv. "It's okay," we replied. "Just like anywhere else." "Good," he said. "Because from what they're telling us on TV, you'd think it's some total nightmare over there."
There are two elevators in our building - one opens where the apartments are, the other stops half a flight of stairs down and opens to the other side: one for the wife, the other for the mistress, to keep them from running into each other, as Mishah has explained.