Sleepless in Moscow

by Ant Stone on July 2, 2007

in Russia

I won’t usually be updating this quick but I’ve been consumed by the whole writing dream. Moscow has become more of an obsession than a destination, with each step I take along it’s roads I develop a new emotion for the people and the place. I woke today with desires to explore the famous Gorky Park, upon arriving I was so exhausted from the concentration I’d put into the journey, that I fell asleep on a bench for 2 hours or more. I can’t be sure, as I don’t carry a timepiece, I simply tell the time from glances at watches or food receipts- which is rare as I still cannot understand a word in written or spoken Russian so as yet have shunned the temptation of eateries.

I had a beer last night with a young Dutchman named Timo, amongst other things we discussed the Muscovite persona; straight faced, silent, kind, abrupt but one word Timo offered hit the nail on the head “they’re xenophobic” he proclaimed, and I swiftly agreed. For me, the people of Moscow appear to be sheepishly exploring the concept of freedom and expression, with tentative steps. Comparisons can be made with many major capitals, especially their European counterparts; the style of Paris women, the seclusion of London, the feisty nature of the Spanish, the pace of New York. Though underneath the xenophobic layer you’ll find the strong might of the Russian people, bore from the Soviet iron. I broke through this today, with comical ingenuity.

Upon awaking I inspected my beloved Dunlop trainers and the rancid smell brought an instant response to my subconscious murmuring “should I wear them again?”. Sniff. No. I delved into the depths of my backpack, and withdrew the new footwear of the Gods; the Holey Soles, in bright blue. For those not au feit with the Holey Soles revolution, they are essentially like foam sandles and look somewhat like the old Jellybean shoes I used to mock my sister for wearing. Walking the streets of Moscow in bright, cartoon-like shoes is an experience I implore you to try. Every age group stared at me as if my feet were sprouting horns, they’d look at my feet, then my face, then my feet again. Their expression said it all, they smiled and laughed. I’d broken them, this phenomenon happened time and time again, in small alleys, shops, parks, crossings, metros… EVERYWHERE! I had finally gained an identity in Moscow, the “fool in the bright blue shoes.”

From my hostel I made the supposed 25 minute walk to Gorky Park, 2 hours later I stumbled through it’s gates and into its gory attempt at fun. There’s a sculpture park to the north of the Gorky, I had tried to gain entry only to be sternly told “Nyeta NYETA” by a bitter old woman. I believe this means “no” as I’ve heard it quite a lot, somewhere in the notice board I’m sure there must be a sign proclaiming “no blue-shoed fools allowed”. See, xenophobes I tell ya. Gorky Park- for those who have not had the pleasure- is a supposed cultural park, yet all I could find were fairground rides spinning furiously, but spookily with no riders aboard. The centre piece of the park and the must have ‘Kodak Moment’ for most visitors appeared to be the obligatory musical fountain. Sigh. If I haven’t instilled you with a passion to visit this part of Moscow, then please forgive me. My feet are aching.

Yesterday was much more productive; Red Square, the outskirts of the Kremlin and St Basils Cathedral were among the first days jaunts. Midday brought an almighty downpour so solace was found within St Basils, and 15 minutes dozing ensued. Sleep may become a common theme unless I find a more energetic diet than hotdogs and beer. The final word though, to the big surprise of this city; it’s women. I often wondered why the whore houses of Europe proudly advertise it’s Russian tenants, I see why now. Everywhere I look are beautiful women strutting down the streets. If I was courageous enough to utter just one word, I assure you, it wouldn’t be “Nyeta”.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

simon p July 9, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Well Sir Anthony of Nowhere in Particlaur you’ve made it this far without any serious fuck ups! Well done. Thanks for putting me off Russia for good!

Lesley July 10, 2007 at 8:13 am

Hi there Ant
Just keeping an eye on you. I never knew that you were such a descriptive writer. You’re not putting me off, keep up the commentary, I love being an armchair traveller.

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