freak show

I’m glad that they took that sign on my podyezd–the entrance to my apartment, that is–that read “Child Massage.  Call Mikhail”.  I wonder if anyone actually called him for an appointment?

Anyway, the metro is a place where you can see many outlandish sights.  The other day I was riding back home from Lubyanka where I had met my friend in a cafe, and this middle aged looking guy comes in with a total grandma looking woman– I’m talking ancient looking, sunken mouth, missing teeth and all–and they start making out on the subway, just kssing and kissing and snuggling.  I looked on in horror and fascination for about a minute, but after that I had to avert my eyes.  I couldn’t get it out of my head all night!

Moscow has a large share of the world’s most beautiful young women, with rosy fairy princess complexions and golden hair, really a heaping proportion of head-turning beauty.  But the other end of the scale is just as generously filled out as I’ve seen some of the most remarkably ugly people here ever.  It’s just amazing.  And old Russian people must get about ten times the proportion of unsightly, giant moles that old Americans do.  And old people.  A couple weeks ago I think I saw the world’s oldest woman riding the subway.  She was completely sunk into herself, hunched over so much in her big, beige jacket that I could barely see her face.  She seemed asleep.  But then at one of the stops she roused herself and walked slowly out of the train, carrying a big bag of wares with her that she was going to sell in the subway.

Life is really rough for old people.  The Russian pension is kopyeiki–kopecks, that is, or pennies, meaning it’s virtually nothing–and you see so many old people in the subway and on the street and in the cold trying to sell stuff.  They don’t have much to sell, maybe it’s a couple jars or pickled vegetables, or a handful of bags of dill from their garden or two or three secondand sweaters–and they will stand all day in the cold or in the subway trying to sell it.


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