On the way back home tonight, Marta and I ended up taking a cab, after having spent at least 20 minutes at a shitty bus stop, waiting for a trolleybus that never came.
The car was some sort of a Lada, I guess. The driver appeared to be either a Caucasus or a Central Asia native, rather young. I offered him 200 rubles, he asked softly to please make it 300, and Marta and I were too tired for me to engage in bargaining. The car's windows were tinted to such an extent that I almost fell asleep as soon as I got in, but Marta kept talking, so that saved me from embarrassing myself (what if I snored, right?).
At one point, she praised the car loudly, calling it "stylish," and I noticed that the driver began to smile. She also did quite a lot of reading of the largest logos along the way: Hitachi was one, and I explained that it was a Japanese company, and we discussed hiragana and kanji a little, and then she saw Rosgosstrakh written in really huge letters, unpronounceable and incomprehensible nevertheless, and she couldn't read it herself, of course, and I did my best to explain the basics of insurance business to her, using Iowa and tornadoes as the example, for some reason, and Marta asked if it was possible for a tree to insure itself against a storm. Since everything Marta and I talked about was funny in a cute way, I don't remember at which point the driver turned around, laughing, and asked how old Marta was.
When we got to our neighborhood, it turned out I only had a 500-ruble bill, and the driver, of course, didn't have any change, so he stopped by the kiosk and went to buy himself something and thus obtain 200 rubles for me. We sat in the car, waiting for him, listening to the 10PM newscast, with Marta commenting sadly on the sad news of a collapsed building somewhere in Vladimir. Then the driver came back, handed me the change - and presented Marta with a small pack of apple juice with a straw! We were totally delighted. I asked him where he was from - Tajikistan - and I said "rakhmat," thanking him, and Marta repeated after me, because she is by now used to thanking cab drivers in their native languages.
I do love Moscow sometimes.