Saturday, May 19, 2007

Again, thank you all for kind words and advice. I'm now writing down everything that Marta eats during the day - and it sort of looks okay, I guess. She's smaller than other kids her age (and smaller than some of the younger ones, too), and this is another thing that's making me nervous, but I've read that growth rates are all really individual, so I hope there's nothing much to worry about here. She's so much fun now, such a precious sweetheart...


On to some negative stuff:

I was at Staryi Arbat a few days ago - one of the most touristy places in Moscow, where they sell all kinds of souvenirs, etc. A foreign-looking couple was picking postcards outside a store when two cops approached them and asked to see their IDs. One of the cops was huge, fat, capable of knocking down half a dozen people with no special fighting skills but his weight alone, I guess, and he was the one who addressed the couple menacingly:

- Molodyye lyudi, vashi dokumenty! ("Your documents, young people!")

And the "young people" looked totally innocent, so like everyone else in the crowd around them. The woman was beautifully plump, something that caught my eye even before the cops showed up. And it was so shocking to see them singled out like that, like some "dangerous element." It was embarrassing.

I didn't pause to see the rest of it, whether the cops succeeded in extorting their beer money or not. But I can't get it out of my mind.

It's been years since I last worried about my own status here, and I believed everyone was feeling more or less at ease in Moscow by now. Well, everyone except for all those dark-haired migrant workers. But turns out nothing has really changed. Just think of it: they are brainwashing the people about all kinds of terrorist threats, but in the meantime, they are hunting down harmless tourists.

It's making me miss Istanbul so much more.

It also got me thinking that even if you stay away from politics here, this ID-checking shit should give you such a perfect glimpse into what this country is really like and how all this "widespread corruption" business really works.

And even if they elect themselves a saint as president, nothing's gonna change, ever.


  1. Why don't you go back to Ukraine, if you don't like Russia? With such attitude you are not welcomed in Russia. And of course there is no corruption in Ukraine.

  2. Uncle Joe: Your reaction is so typical. And boring. Don't acknowledge the problem, whatever you do; just give the standard reply: If you don't like Russia, get out. That'll teach 'em. But kicking everybody out would not make Russia less of a dictatorial police state. Yes, Ukraine has corruption (who doesn't), but at least you aren't treated like a second class citizen if you happen to be a foreigner. I don't live in Russia nor would I want to live in Russia, not in a million years. You can keep your Motherland and the gulags all to yourself and your fat policemen. Neeka: I apologize for my tone here, but after living in Moscow for a time I just am not able to turn the other cheek to jerks like this...

  3. Marta looks great. I think she's going to be fine. She couldn't ask for a better mom and dad.

  4. seems like all expats talk about this ID checking shit before they mention the cold depressing winters. Uncle joe must have woken up from a particularly bad vodka drinking night to come up with such a reply...

  5. uncle joe, with an attitude like yours, have you ever considered moving to north korea, to escape people with an attitude like mine?


  6. Fortunetely you and those like you are a thin minority inside Russia, so there is no need to.
    I would rather suggest you should exercise on changing your sovok mentality. People like you haven't changed since the days of ussr (alekseyewa and that fat person(don't know the name) as an example, you don't know how the world functions you don't know anything about economics, but you keep lamenting how bad Russia and how wonderful the West is. You are the true sovoks.
    Wake up, Russia has changed.

  7. I know better than to feed trolls, but...

    Let's talk about the issue at hand, Uncle Joe. How do you justify the behavior of the cops? Do Russians themselves like it that their public officials behave like this? Do you want every foreigner to leave Russia in disgust, isolating it Soviet-style and destroying the tourist economy?

    Bashing people who only want Russia to be a better place is a ridiculous thing to do.

  8. Allow us sovoks recap the articulate wisdom of uncle joe: We are the minority opinion, we don't know how the world functions (whatever that means), we don't know anything about economics (I won't even try with that one) and if we don't like it - leave. But wait! Save the best for last - Russia has changed.


  9. Well, the truth is that only changed hearts and lives/habits will bring down tyranny in the Neo-Soviet Russia.

    People have to give a shit about their neighbor and country and take time to sift the spin spewed in their direction by political technologists.

    I think you are right that who gets elected prez isn't going to change things much, but change driven by local-community-development and cultural-religious renewal is possible!