Lugging my purchases (liter of milk, liter of vodka, laundry soap, chicken breasts, beef, paper towels, carton of eggs, cream cheese, salami, pickles, yogurt drinks, red and orange peppers, broccoli, Diet Coke, tonic water, chicken stock cubes, and five red and green Christmas garlands), I just arrived back home from the grocery store to discover the elevator, which was functioning when I left the building, is not working now that I have returned to the building.
I had to carry my bags up seven, SEVEN! flights of stairs. In the interest of journalistic accuracy, I weighed the heavier bag. It weighed seven kilos.
Oh, and did I mention the cat puked just inside the door while I was gone. So that when I pushed open the door, it dragged over the cat yack. Good thing I just bought more paper towels.
I've been in a bit of a state lately, what with this economic crisis and all. Although, and I say this for the record, I have not personally experienced any inconvenience or change in lifestyle because of it, I have heard about expats and Russians losing their jobs here. The rate of exchange is drifting, slowly toward favorable because the only thing worse than the state of the U.S. dollar right now is confidence in the Russian ruble. But nothing has changed enough to make us rich, and if the ruble crashes it will only make just about everything I buy more expensive because just about everything I buy is imported. Not because I am some sort of snob, either. It's just that Russia produces petroleum and not much else. Okay, vodka.
What's got me worked up are the rumblings I have been hearing about increased crime in Moscow. Again, let me speak clearly into the microphone for the transcript: I have not been a victim of crime in any way here (aside from The Spouse's wallet . . . but he got it back intact), nor have I ever even felt uncomfortable. But I have heard, via the expat forums, stories of apartments being robbed. The occasional mugging. Breaches of security in apartment building lobbies. There was the suggestion that carrying a second, worthless, and basically empty wallet is advised so that should one be mugged, you can hand off the bogus wallet (complete with some business cards of people you don't care for or don't remember meeting and some old loyalty cards from local businesses) while your real wallet remains safely nestled in another pocket.
All well and good if you are a man with a lot of pockets.
But what if you are a woman and feel compelled to carry around a cell phone, metro map and pass, emergency woman supplies, artificial sweetener, lipstick, Advil, a pocket calendar and pen, and a passport with an oversize Russian visa that is neither attached to the passport nor fits in the passport, in addition to the standard wallet contents of bank card, paper money, and coins? I travel light, actually. And I have given up carrying around my pocket Russian-English phrasebook/dictionary.
Oh, and my keys . . . I've explained about the giant set of jailer's keys I am required to carry around, right? I have friends who have a tiny device to open the front door to their building . . . something small and discreet and the size of, oh, a cotton swab tip. . . and one door key. I have seven keys (lucky number seven, again). You can't leave them lose in many coat pockets because they will rip the pocket lining. And make your coat hang askew on your body.
I had been leaving my passport at home, even though we are required to carry them. I figured it was easier to pay a fine than to replace a lost or stolen passport. But now I am also hearing it is more likely that the police, who normally ignore foreigners, could, feeling the economic pinch themselves, be more inclined to ask for papers.
My compromise is to carry mine, but not the children's.
But the purse thing. Oh, the purse thing. I have been wrestling with it. I had a tiny purse on a long strap that I tucked my money and bank card into one day, while carrying everything else (and a big, older wallet) in an old Coach purse. Unwieldy. Especially when I have to dig out the little purse in order to pay for something.
So I ditched the little purse and put everything in the Coach purse. It, too, has a long strap so I can wear it across my body.
But it has been really cold here, and I want to wear my fur coat. A purse across the body and outside the coat will rub off the fur. So I have to wear it under my coat, which pushes the already too-big coat that much farther away from my body, allowing the frigid Moscow wind to blow right up the front of me.
I tried a "purse on a belt" option, but the purse was just big enough that it made me look like I was packing heat under my coat.
So now I am back to a really ugly Nine West purse I bought a few years ago. It is, by design, an across-the-body purse. Black. About as pretty and feminine as bandolier. I look like Pancho Villa. But it has a separate pocket for my phone. And the main pocket is large enough for my wallet, my passport, my pocket calendar, and my keys.
I'm just gonna play fast and loose with the other items.
Taking my chances.
Better not mess with me.
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
4 years ago