Monday, August 31, 2009

Back in the USSR

Our return trip to Moscow was the best kind: uneventful.

We arrived Friday around noon. In spite of The Spouse's warnings that the cats had fouled the apartment, I found little, if any evidence. Someone peed on his courier bag. And no amount of laundering or applications of Febreeze has rendered it usable again. But I had another camera-style bag he was able to use. Not ideal, but at least the problem was solved.

Saturday afternoon we went to a Scottish Stramash here in Moscow. It was summer garden party sponsored by the St. Andrew's Society of Moscow. The kids had a ball. I danced too much and limped around the next day. But it was a very nice way to ease back into life in Moscow: we saw lots of friends.

So now that I'm back and the contrasts are still fresh, what have I noticed about both the USA and Russia, you ask?

Well, the people, to start.

Americans are GINORMOUS. Depressingly so. On more than one occasion The Spouse and I would look around a restaurant and realize that EVERY table held at least one obese person, and often more than one. Clothing sizes are all out of whack now. I mean, a medium should not be too big for me. Restaurant portions have been too big for a long time, but I was still a bit surprised sometimes at exactly much food was presented to me.

Americans like to believe that all Russians look like the roly-poly babushka. And a few of them do. But they are far and away the exception.

Russians are slim.

Americans are not.

It's shameful, really.

What else did I notice?

Prices. It was often very frustrating to be in a store like Wal-Mart or Target and see how inexpensive items like shampoo and pet supplies are in the US. I couldn't even justify bringing shampoo and conditioner back with me because the size and weight of the bottles was just too much with everything else in my suitcases.

Smells. Moscow is a city, and it smells like a city. I like cities. In Ohio, I was struck by how often I smelled flower gardens, freshly cut grass, fallen leaves in the woods, and just fresh air. It was delightful, and I tried to be appreciative every single day.

Now that I am back, I notice the dusty, metallic smell of the Moscow Metro. Diesel fumes around the Garden Ring. A whiff of alcohol on the breath of a passer-by. But also the smells of delicious meals being cooked in apartments and in local restaurants. I am overwhelmed by good-food smells.

Tomorrow, the girls return to school. Baboo starts college, which is middle-school and high school combined. There is a lot of unknown here, including her daily schedule, which, as I understand it, can vary from day to day. So I don't know yet what my schedule will look like until we get in there and start figuring it out. I'll know more tomorrow, I hope.

I also hope I can get back to the gym soon. I'm looking more American these days, and not in a good way.


MoscowMom said...

Hope "la rentrée" went well!!! We all start tomorrow and it has been one constant snowstorm of activity to get our new school building ready.

Once things settle down a bit, we all HAVE to get together for another bloggers' night out!

As for the luggage, I find that an extra suitcase can more than pay for itself if you pack it with things significantly more expensive you'd have to buy here. That's kind of my criteria for excess luggage. The volume of all the b-day gift and teachers' gifts we need to give took up a suitcase, but I spent under $200 and those items would have cost around $500 here. Even after excess luggage costs, I still save money and didn't have to run around locating gifts here.

Colette D. said...

I lived in Ukraine during middle and high school- but when I went back to visit in college, having gotten up to a size 12, my old teachers told me that Americans were so fat because we drank so much water! If we'd just stop drinking bottles of water, we'd be fine.

kevski said...

Dear Beet,

Noticed your post about wanting to keep some things out of the media. If you do not want anything to appear in the Aeroflot blog thing in the future just let me know.


katbat said...

yay - welcome back! There is a lot og "good food smells" - sometimes when we are out walking around town on the weekend we catch a whiff and try and track it down (esp grilled meats). But then we also catch a whiff and play "name that smell" with the kids - not really wanting to know what it is. :-)My kiddos have been in school all week and they love it!! Good luck with the middle school experience! When I first arrived I thought - thats not even going to fill me up! when we ordered from a restaurant - but the smaller portions are perfect - nice to not feel stuffed, or that I need to let out my pants - when we leave!

Kugo said...

I'm glad you're back in the USSR. I'm sure trips like this make you appreciate everything you have.

Anonymous said...

When I returned to the US from Russia, I noticed the whole largeness thing with Americans. It's quite sad.

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