Before I talk about the spectacle that was Izmailovo market let me take a few words to describe the spectacle that is my new gym, Pallada. First of all, I love the place for the following reasons.
1) the really nice lady at the front desk pretended not to notice that I was a foreigner until I was almost done buying my membership,
2) nobody is ever on the treadmills or the bike so I get them to myself,
3) my membership comes with a coupon for a free massage,
4) membership is under 30 dollars a month! yes!
There’s also the scenery. It has, I suppose, an Ancient Greek theme, with the walls painted in gold and stucco-ish orange. Then there are enormous Russian men walking around the place, not just walking but stumping around in that kind of he-man walk that says, “well, my muscles are just too bulging to walk like a normal person, so, see, I sort of have to position my massive thighs in this manner, understand?” They were tiny tight shorts and sweatpants that are too tight in the butt and CCCP or “Made in Russia” jackets. It’s kind of freaky.
Anyway, this weekend I turned 23! That’s old for me! I guess it makes sense that I would be 23 because I have a job and do grown-up stuff now like “working things out with the boss” and “feeding myself”. But I was still a little bit surprised. Anyway, I went to the big outdoor antiques and souvenir market at Izmailovo this weekend in search for a present for another dear friend (also now shockingly 23) and it was quite a sight! There were so many wonderful things in the sprawling antiques section: ancient gramophones (and granplastinki, Russian for records), so many accordions which looked dignified but old and tired (yes, how could I pass an accordion up? I had the feeling that most of them had already expired from sitting old in the cold), shoeboxes crammed with pre-Revolutionary photos, Soviet toys, so many Stalin portraits and Lenin busts, an infinite array of medals and banners, sewing machines, war equipment, old Ukrainian folk dresses (may have to go back for something like that!), prerevolutionary cameras… ohhh.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, to use a cliche. Anyway, I wanted it all, but nobody likes a hoarder, and I only wanted something really wonderful that really called my name. Luckily, I found it! I ran into two men who were running a booth full of textiles and rugs from Uzbekistan and saw this beautiful wall hanging (or bed-covering– it’s big as a queen-sized bed. I was just enchanted by the design and the colors and by the idea of having this treasure–it’s hand-sewn and beautifully made–that comes from such a far away place. Add this to the fact that I am very interested in Uzbekistan after seeing pictures of her cities, but sadly, may never go because it’s rather dangerous, and I really, really wanted it. The inital price was 12000 rubles, but I was only carrying 6000, and they let me have it for that much. Here’s my birthday gift to myself! I’m in love with it!