Well, we have been in Moscow now for a year. According to the children, yesterday was our anniversary. That sure went fast. We celebrated by going to Gorky Park, but you'll have to see the photos on my Facebook page. Uploading photos on this site is too frustrating.
The days now are short, dark, and overcast, making them even shorter and darker. The temperature has been below 0C the past few days, which is a blessing only in that it guarantees no rain. No snow either, but time enough for that. Maybe. I'm starting to wonder if the whole global warming thing is going to screw with my time in Moscow. I can imagine looking back on our time here on day and saying, "Oddly, we never had much snow in Moscow."
I got a piece of mail the other day addressed to Expatresse Nopatr. My full name was in Cyrillic, last name first, then my first name, then "Nopatr."
That cracked us up. I have no patronymic. Well, only because I never gave anyone one. But I could have one.
You may or may not know how this patronymic name thing works, but the Russians use the patronymic, based on the name of their father, as their middle name. It is an official name and is used on official documents. There is a feminine version and a masculine version. For example, if the father is Ivan, the son's patronymic name would be Ivanovich and the daughter's would be Ivanovna. Since my father's name is Larry, my patronymic or middle name would be Lariovna.
To be really polite and respectful, you use a Russian's first name and their patronymic. We shouldn't call Vladimir Putin "Mr. Putin," for example, but, if we want to be polite and correct, should say Vladimir Vladimirovich (his father was also Vladimir).
Russian doesn't have the titles "Mr." or "Mrs." which I find very disturbing as there is no polite way to address a stranger. Nobody says "comrade" anymore, but they haven't come up with an alternative. There is no "sir" or "ma'am" or "miss." Apparently you can say "girl" to women of any age. It's odd, I know.
This blog title comes hand-in-hand with other Russian remarks such as "I thought I saw two people on the road, but it was just a man and his wife." There's a weird mix of sexism and chivalry here. Men will hold doors and offer seats on the metro (sometimes). I have also seen men carrying the purse of their female companion. That looks a little strange to me, and I have seen it quite often, actually. I cannot imagine The Spouse ever carrying my purse for me. I mean, he always offers to carry things if I want, but he would never think to offer to carry my purse, and I would never hand it to him on my own. He can hold it while I go on the roller coaster. But that's it.
I also hear expats relaying stories of Russian women deferring to male colleagues because "He is the man, so he is smarter." I have not experienced anything like that, and, frankly, suspect that in most Russian households the woman runs the show. It is another one of those cultures where the sexes are defined: men are masculine and women are feminine. Why would you want to be otherwise? Given how we Americans sometimes neuter ourselves, especially at work, I don't mind being allowed to be female. It hasn't gotten in my way anyhow. But I'm also not trying to run a board meeting here either. Ask me again after I try that.
As an aside, Miss Russia won the Miss World 2008 competition this weekend. Here is the winning interview. She is adorable.
There was also the Miss Constitution pageant last week, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the post-Soviet constitution. Read all about it here.
In other news, I am on the hunt for a new winter coat. Every coat I have seems to have a problem. The lining is shredding on my favorite coat. It is becoming embarrassing. I have another jacket-type coat I bought from JJill before Youngest Daughter was born. I mean, I have photos of a pregnant me wearing this coat. There was more of me then, and now this coat is too big. The wind blows up it. The good news is I can wear layers with it (always useful) and even wear my purse under my coat. But the shoulder seams hit the middle of my biceps: it really doesn't fit nicely. I have a similar problem with my lovely mink coat: it is too big for me. And sometimes it just isn't appropriate.
I looked at coats in a shop in town the other day, but what I wanted cost between 25,000 rubles to as much as 36,000 rubles (these days, 2,700 rubles = $100 US). I don't want to spend $1,000 for a down-filled winter coat.
That's what I want: something knee-length, water-resistant, down-filled. With a hood. Some fur trim would be nice, but isn't vital.
I got a tip from a woman on the expat forum about a market ("rynok" in Russian) called Konkovo (conveniently at Metro Konkovo, for those of you following along on your Moscow Metro Map). This morning I went to check it out.
All I can say is "Wow."
It goes on and on. All indoors. Shop stall after shop stall of coats, jackets, furs, men's suits, shoes and boots, bras, evening gowns, and those over-the-top Russian women's outfits complete with too much lace, glitter, and bows.
I was too intimidated to venture into any of the shops. While some items I saw did have price tags, many things did not. Clearly, this is a place to bargain, and I am convinced that, without a Russian speaker, I will be lunch meat. Even with The Spouse, we are likely to pay the Foreigner Prices. But I'm sure I will do better with his help.
So we will go back together another time. There are, uncharacteristically, some sales in Moscow already. But Sale Season is traditionally after the New Year. It might pay to hold off until January.
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 ...
3 years ago