Ugh, my feet. Not only ugh, but ouch as well. And a little ew. Yes, I have made it. Despite the absense of recent blog updates, I have not been detained on the border with a kilo of heroin up my tuchus. Thank god for that, for even though it would have made for an interesting blog update, you probably would have had to wait a decade or so to see it.
No, there was no heroin up my bottom, no swallowed condoms full of cocaine in my gut, and, unlike this one time a few years ago, no tightly rolled bundle of dollars in my drawers. I made it over the border safe and sound, and in fact I don’t even remember doing it. There were customs, I expect, because I have a hazy recollection of handing some uniformed entity my passport, and the train did stop for a while at one point. But there was also a lot of beer, and good company. After I got tired of sitting in our compartment with my boss, who, for honesty’s sake, is in this case is also my mother (she’s in charge of the Moscow division at the company I work for), I went to the restaurant wagon, which was, very conveniently, the wagon next to ours. I sat there for a while reading Bill Bryson’s fairly amusing book “I am a stranger here myself“, when a snippet of conversation caught my ear. A thirty-something red headed man was enthusiastically, even a bit too enhusiastically, talking to a wizened old woman of at least 75, on the subject of Japan and China, and was, rather inanely, in my opinion, asking her “which one she prefers”. I thought it was like comparing apples and oranges. As I recall, fortified with beer as I was, I flatly stated that opinion, butting into their conversation with a drunken leer and a snigger. Real smooth…
But we soon paved that little gaffe over with more beer. It turned out that the pair in question were not illicit lovers (Eew!), nor were they mother and son, but a part of a larger group of people who were going to Moscow in order to board a trans-sib train to Beijing, via Ulanbator, with the old gal as their leader! But that wasn’t all, they were then going to fly to Seoul, and from there on to Tokyo. I am kind of hazy whether that was their final destination, but the trip sounded impressive enough as it was. I was completely taken in by their enthusiasm, and we sat long comparing our previous travel experiences, both in Russia and outside. Thus we sat through the Finnish customs, and the Russian one, when, unfortunately, the restaurant closed. So I took a can of beer with me and continued my discussion with the flaming haired gentleman in the hallway of an adjoining wagon, right up to the point when the beer ended, whence I proceeded to stumble back to my wagon. In retrospect it was probably a good thing the restaurant wagon closed when it did, as I don’t really remember whether I talked to mother or not, and how I went to bed. Mother did say that I carried on talking through the night, fighting and arguing with some mysterious stranger, raving like a lunatic.
The following morning I woke up in Moscow, suprised that I didn’t wish I were dead, or anything like that, with only a mild headache and a slightly woozy feeling. “Hey!” I thought. ”Not bad!” I thought. But then we descended into the bowels of the Moscow subway system. At rush hour. It was like walking into a meat grinder. There were elbows and hard-heeled shoes everywhere, as well as a delightful bouquet of farts, BO, stale booze, and cheap aftershave. I don’t think I’ve ever been jostled by the crowd as badly as I was yesterday. It was like a bloody mosh pit. The crowd had a mind of its own, swaying, going this way and that, and you couldn’t do anything. The worst were the funnel-like sections, for instance the entrance to the escalators, where the crowd had to be squeezed, and that produced a scary “suction” effect, with you being propelled towards the escalators with no control whatsoever, at an alarmingly increasing velocity.
We did make it to the Alekseyevskaya station eventually, though. In one piece and with all posessions intact. However, the authentic metro experience sapped my vitality, and that’s when the hangover started to bite. I was apparently still somewhat drunk when I woke up, although I had trouble seeing how that was possible with only 500 roubles spent at the restaurant wagon. I did have a few pints under the belt before boarding though. Nor did I eat anything the whole day. But yeah, the hangover started to bite with a vengeance. I sweated bullets and breathed fire. My eyes were red and watering. I was jumpy and paranoid. Worst of all, any kind of physical exertion bought on waves of nausea, and I still had to go to our office, lugging laptops and shit like that on my shoulders. I don’t know how I survived the first half of the day, as I had palpitations and tremors aplenty, especially while climbing to the third floor of our office building. The worst part was the sticky panic and anxiety that followed me through the day and well into the night…
After we were done with all the boring stuff at the office we went to a Georgian restaurant called Genatsvale na Arbate, where we were supposed to meet my mother’s cousin, Volodya, who she hasn’t seen for about 20 years. He turned out to be a capital fellow, looking a dead ringer on Vince Vaughn, and it was a pleasure to hear his and mother’s nostalgic reminiscing about their chidhood in a small village down south by the Black sea. The restaurant where we met deserves special mention, since I’ve never been to a theme restaurant as skillfully decorated as was this one. Now, faux decorations might not be everyone’s thing, and some might call them tacky and would certainly have a point, but this one was meticulously constructed to resemble a Georgian village, and no expense appeared to have been spared. The food was good, the music live, all of the staff Georgian, and the prices bearable. And nobody appeared to have pissed in my mushroom soup as a protest over the war with Georgia.
As for today, I haven’t done much. Woke up in a freezing room (heat is still off in Moscow because aparently it’s still summer) on a broken sofa bed. Went to see where my training will be held tomorrow, turned out that it’s held at a Polytech about a 45min metro trip away from our place, that’s with three line switches and horrible morning crowds. Wanted to go to the museum of armed forces, but once I walked to the VDNH park and through to the Ostankino shopping centre, clocking about 10km all together, all the spunk was knocked out of me and I headed to the closest “Kofe Hauz” where I still sit, drinking cup after cup of black tea (no sugar!) and using 50r an hour WiFi. Mother is going back to Helsinki today, and I am staying behind until Thursday. So maybe I will do something more interesting tomorrow after the training ends at 18:00.
Ok, linkdump. Science. Top 10 unexplained phenomena. Art. Nerd Party. They are so sweet, all of them. Too pretty to be real nerds, more like hipster nerd wannabees, but still… Not professional models, according to the text. Tech. Fastest helicopter in the world by Sikorsky. Kinda “whatever” in my opinion. And a little social piece on smoking in Russia. Boy am I glad I quit almost five months ago.