No, I don’t have it yet, the elusive room in Moscow I’m looking for. Yesterday I went down on the orange line to view a room. Only it wasn’t a room. It was actually an armchair for $400 a month. I went to meet a girl I’d been communicating with for two weeks about the place, and I’d been under the impression that it was a room I’d be renting. This very kind, normal, well-dressed girl– my age, a newborn nurse in a nearby hospital, actually pointed to a chair when I asked her where I’d sleep. Is this a dream? Am I in Soviet times looking for a cozy corner in a kommunalka? Yeesh.
But I’ve been told that here at the school, I’ll be moving into a new flat which I’ll share with an equally isolated teacher. The perks:
1) Rent will be lowered from about 30 dollars a month to about, oh, 20.
2) She’s a teacher of Russian language and literature. Her favorite author is Dostoevsky, I’m told. Awesome! My own live-in professor!
3) She doesn’t speak English. (perk/yikes)
I’m excited to see what happens and will update when I make the move.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to practice, practice, practice my Russian. I’m speaking more Russian with my fellow teachers and with the drivers who take me to the bus stop and to Moscow, I download Russian podcasts to listen to on the hour-long bus ride into the city (including a painfully obvious motivational podcast by what is surely Moscow’s ugliest, fattest, motivational speaker– his photo pops up when you listen to him talk– can’t unsee) and have conversations with the mother of my 4 year old charge when she drives me to and from her house. She’s told me a lot about contemporary Russian life. Today for instance, I asked her why there are so many car accidents in Moscow.
Well? Okay, so Moscow is flooded with millionaires and billionaires with extravagant tastes. The millionaires and billionaires want girlfriends – 17 year old “models” who have been imported to the capital from the Russian hinterland – and those girlfriends are only too happy to wring expensive cars out of their rich benefactors. With the gift of a new Mercedes comes a very special bonus – a driver’s license purchased under the table from the police department (no test needed, of course). So there are all of these very young, very attractive girls, careering around and getting into grisly accidents around Moscow.