Friday, June 20, 2008

Two random notes on Moscow.

I'm talking cars with Marta, the way we always do on our way to the park - "What's the name of this car? And this one? And that?" I'm supposed to look at each car we pass and respond to her. She's got my driver's gene.

A young man and two older women walk by, engaged in a lively discussion of something very trivial. They look totally inconspicuous - except that they are chatting in Ukrainian. But I'm still fresh out of Kyiv, so I don't pay attention at first, and by the time I recall that I'm actually in Moscow, they are already far ahead of us.


At the playground, I talk with a young Russian woman whose son is Marta's age. We discuss our kids' eating and sleeping habits, and then I mention Turkey, and she says she kind of hated it there - because of the way Turks treat Russians, and because of poverty. But poverty there is so different from our poverty, I tell her: it's a drunken kind of poverty here, while there... But she interrupts me, somewhat angrily: "Yes, and over there it's a hungry kind of poverty."

To my comment about the way they park on Khreshchatyk now, she says: "Well, with a president like this, it's not surprising."

As we say good-bye to each other, it turns out her name is Veronica. But everyone calls her Vika - which I, honestly, consider extremely unkosher.


  1. I think it was in that I read about Dutch travel agencies offering vacation tours "without Russians."

  2. Sasha,

    I was talking to the travel agency the other day, they said the is no hotel left in Aegean or Mediterranean Turkey where there is less than 50% "Russians" and the only way to limit their company is to go to an expensive breakfast only hotel or a small pension.

  3. Dumb question, what is unkosher about calling someone Vika?

  4. Calling a Veronica 'Vika' seems strange to me, because I'm a Veronica who's always been called 'Nika.' No offense to Vikas, I love the name - but I'm used to thinking of it as a short for Victoria. There are also Veronicas known as Veras, as well as Veras and Nikas who aren't Veronicas. And, actually, it's not really about the name, but about the woman behind that name: I didn't like her.

  5. I can relate to Marta. My parents were surprised when I could distinguish between different cars. They'd point to a car and ask me what kind it was and I'd tell them. All of the cars look different. Marta has your artist gene. I think she's going to be a designer.

  6. Heh, that makes perfect sense. If I had to choose a favorite slavic name for women, Vika would be up there, although I think Svetlana is tops. It is close enough to the word "svelte", such that the name sounds posh to these western ears.

    For men's names, partial to Volodja for some reason.