My Russian adventure officially started September 2010 and lasted a bit over 2 years!
The unknown, the secretiveness of Moscow acted like a magnet for me. Since I can remember I have always been interested in finding out what actually goes on behind the “iron curtain”. I grabbed at the chance to work and live in Moscow and couldn’t wait to start my adventure. Although I was already scared of the cold winters that I knew lay ahead.
I soon found out that Moscow is a city of superlatives. It boasts the most billionaires, the most expensive cups of coffee, at £4 a cup this is definitely true, and the most churches located in one city! It has also been voted the most unfriendly city in the world, although I have to disagree with that last statement. The more I got to know the Russians, the more I realized they are actually friendly and helpful in their own way. It just takes them a while to warm up to strangers.
Not prepared for KONKOVA, the suburb where my flat was situated.
I knew that I was going to be living in an old Soviet flat but was still very shocked when I actually walked into my flat. The apartment complex looks like it should have been demolished years ago. It is one of 5 identical apartment blocks all a row. It’s going to be easy to get lost was one of my first thoughts. As predicted during that first week I tried to enter the wrong apartment block a couple of times! Personally I think each apartment block should at least have a different coloured door to make finding your apartment a bit easier.
My flat looked like something out of a horrible 60’s movie – brown wallpaper and some squishy orange stuff that covers the doors and the cupboards. The toilet was wallpapered in some yellow and blue 50’s motive that gave you a headache every time you had to go in there. I had no kettle or microwave and my fridge wasn’t working. It suddenly dawned on me that I was all alone in this strange flat and in this foreign country. Causing me to question my sanity for a moment.
I definitely needed a cup of coffee to cheer me up and so my first buying adventure in Moscow started. I walked to the nearest grocery store which was about 15 minutes away and bought some coffee and what I thought was milk and sugar. Seeing as nothing has any English written on it I had to trust that I was deciphering the pictures correctly. Nobody in the store spoke any English so I couldn’t even ask for help. I should probably have studied a bit of Russian before coming over which would have made life a lot easier for me.
Got home, boiled some water in a pot on the stove and discovered that I bought salt and some sour yogurt stuff. So I headed back to the store, this time I found some sugar in a clear plastic bag and bought some new “milk”. Back in the flat again, I proceeded to make myself another cup of coffee. I soon discovered that yet again I did not buy milk, this time it was something strawberry flavoured. I really did not understand why they have all these flavoured milk. I had picked the white carton with a cow on, you would have thought that it would have been milk.
By this time I really needed some coffee so I took the cup of black coffee and walked all the way to the store with it. I then continued to ask the clerk to help me by pointing at my coffee and the milk rack. I took her to the milk isle and then pointed at the cartons and asked which one I could pour into my coffee, she did laugh at me but at least helped me out.Third time lucky I guess.
Must add that after the milk incident whenever I came into the store the clerk was standing close buy to help me, which I admit helped a lot since my Russian was nearly non existent at that time and trying to decipher what a product is from the pictures on it does not always work.
I quickly made an effort to learn the Russian alphabet and some basic words so things got a little bit easier after my first failed shopping experience.