Tuesday, September 25, 2012

я бегу

Moscow never really gets dark.  There is always an maroon wash to the night sky.  I found that out last night as I lay awake in bed, unable to sleep.  I was anxious to go running in the morning.  Would I be safe?  Would anyone approach me?  Granted, I had only been in Moscow two days, but two days was enough time for me to realize that Moscow is not a city accustomed to runners.

Outside my apartment building
Eventually, I fell asleep, only to reawaken to yet another gloomy morning of clouds and damp winds.  Determined to begin my day with a run, I dressed in layers, strapped a running belt full of my travel documents around my waist, put a can of pepper spray in my pocket, wrote a note to my host mom detailing my whereabouts, and slipped out the door.

Moscow in the morning is a strange place.  Despite all the commuters and movement, it is quiet.  Cars rush by and people hurry in and out of the metro, walking with their heads down in a seemingly dejected manner.  Hardly anybody says a word.  The only real sounds are the scraping of brooms as people sweep damp leaves from the sidewalks.
I ran by the monastery near my house and the sports complex by the river.  I was nervous and jumpy for most of the run.  I was certainly out of place and the only person, let alone young woman, exercising that morning.   Yet, nobody said anything to me.  In total, I managed an entirely insufficient 2.5 miles before retuning to my home stay to eat my каша and prepare for my first day of class.

The Academy is just beyond the round mall.
There are only four students in my Russian Level 3 language class, which is perfect because I have a difficult time with the language and will need a bit of extra attention. My next class, Space, Politics, and Modernity in Russia, took place at a different university, the Higher School of Economics.  One of our program directors helped us navigate the Metro to the center of the city where the school is located.  This part of Moscow was entirely different from the rather dingy area around the Academy.  It was the Moscow of the guidebooks and probably the only part of Moscow I would see if I were a tourist.  There were old, colored buildings, lights and an almost cheerful vibrancy.

During class, our professor Sergei Medvedev discussed property in Russia.  He said that since the advent of private property, Russia has become a country of fences and barriers.  All that is behind the fence is orderly, while all that lies beyond the barrier is no man's land.  There is no respect for the public good, only a sense of protecting one's own.  It was an interesting lecture that explained a great deal about the trash on the streets, the high security, and the overwhelming sense of paranoia in many parts of Moscow.

After class, our professor welcomed us to join him at a nearby art museum, the Государственный Музей Востока (The State Museum of Oriental Art).  I enjoyed the art exhibit and the artist's style.  Most of the artist's work used Indian Ink on parchment.  When we finished at the exhibit, we walked down the street to the John Donne Pub so the class could get to know each other.  This class consists of students from all over the world.  There are Russian, French, German, and American students, among other nationalities.  I didn't stay long since I didn't want my host mom to worry about me, like she did last night, but it was so much fun chatting with other students.  I'm always amazed at how well everyone speaks English.

As another maroon night descended over Moscow, Stephanie and I rode the Metro back to our stops.  I arrived at the apartment exhausted, but excited by such an interesting day of learning and exploring.  As I ate my dinner of borscht, chicken, vegetables, and rice, I told my host mom about my class and our trip to the museum.  Like always, she had the television on in the kitchen.  As I attempted to speak coherent Russian, I noticed a familiar face on the television screen.  It was my Space, Politics, and Modernity professor, Sergei Medvedev!  Apparently, he is a rather big deal in Russia.  Bау!

And now, a photo montage of Kyle's encounter with the Toilet Lady:
She sits in a porta-potty all day

and charges 50 rubles to anyone daring enough

or desperate enough

to need a туалет.


  1. I am experiencing some serious nostalgia reading about your adventures already!!! I honestly cannot wait to read about your experiences. Isn't it crazy that all bathrooms are $$$ there? How are you liking Russian food? It's my favorite :)

    - Irina @ Chocolatea Time

  2. Thanks Irina! I'm loving Moscow so far! And Russian food is quite delicious. I'm surprised at how fresh it is.