Warmer Weather = Sidewalk Hell
Honestly, I am sure there are plows in Moscow, but the streets I walk on sure haven't seen any. And this heavy, wet snow, while, um, heavy, is easy to shovel off the sidewalks.
Where are all our hardworking Tajiks?
And didn't our Mayor promise to divert all of Moscow's snow? What's up with that?
It is a mess out there. So much so that yesterday I finally put on my Yak Trax (again, no money changed hands here between me and the good people at Yak Trax except when I purchased four pairs of their product).
Mine look like this pair. Except I have lived in Moscow long enough not to be caught dead in shoes this boring. Even my Very Practical Winter Boots have some style. They just have day-glo green Yak Trax on them now.
The Verdict: Both The Spouse and I concur that our ability to navigate the city streets yesterday, while still difficult, was MUCH IMPROVED once we donned our Yak Trax. I did have to pop mine off to enter the Metro (they don't seem the thing to wear on a slipper, marble-esque floor), but it was easy enough to do.
I did not break out my pair until later in the day when I went to collect the children from school. Earlier in the day I went without, and let me tell you, it was rough going. Even the supposedly clean surfaces in the perehods/street underpasses were treacherously slippery.
Which is why when I passed an old woman, inching her way along the perehod, WITH A CANE, making weeping/whimpering noises, I had to turn around and go help her.
I cannot count the number of times total strangers here have helped us. Not just in my grocery store (where they refuse to sell me anything they deem is not fresh), but on the street, too. More than once we have had to ask for directions and when folks don't know they often go find out for us. It's quite sweet and very moving.
So I had to at least offer to help this woman.
She was old, but dressed well enough: good solid shoes, a fur hat, a thick sheep-skin coat. She had her wits about her. She just could not find any purchase on the floor surface. Since my Russian is virtually non-existent, I couldn't understand the outpouring of chatter when I first offered her my arm. I don't know if she had fallen (she didn't have any telltale wet and smudgy spots on her coat) or just went out to run an errand having misjudged the severity of the street surfaces.
She was happy to have me help her, however. I linked arms with her and held her hand and slowly, slowly we made our way through the perehod and up the stairs to street level. There is no way she could have done this on her own.
Once we reached street level, she seemed unsure exactly which way she wanted to go. She knew the address, however, and in typical Muscovite fashion, she asked several passersby until she got what she needed.
A young Russian man asked if we needed help. If I could have spoken to him, I would have said, "Yes! I have no idea how far this woman needs to go!" But my companion told him, "No, no, we're doing fine," much to my disappointment.
She had a small plastic bag that she held in the same hand with her cane. It seemed to contain one of those local newspapers and an open can of Coca Cola, among other things. She was very concerned that the Coke would spill out of the can and onto the contents of the bag. I was wondering why she didn't just discard the can (we passed several trash cans), but at one point she stopped, got the can out of her bag (with great difficulty), and had a swig.
I can't say I wasn't ever-so-slightly tickled to see her enjoying one of my favorite American products.
"Are you French?" she asked me.
That seemed to please her. Oh, this was one of those times that I desperately wished I spoke better Russian. It would have been so interesting to have a real conversation with her.
Once up on the sidewalk, we began inching down the street. I know this section of sidewalk, and there is a point in front of an office building where the surface stone changes (for aesthetic purposes) to something I nearly killed myself on earlier that day. I was not about to let her navigate that by herself.
Thankfully, we stopped just as we reached that point.
"I don't know what number this is," she kept saying. "What number is this?"
I couldn't see an address, but while we were standing there, the Concierge Dude for the building saw us and came out. He was able to tell her that we had passed her destination, but only just.
So back we went while younger, speedier Moscow flowed like water all around us.
I got her to the door she declared was her destination, and held it for her so she could go inside.
"Beautiful! Beautiful!" she kept telling me, and gave me big kisses on my cheeks.
I don't know how she got home, but I hope she had a little help.
In Moving News: I guess we are T-12 Days since we leave Moscow February 15. Although the movers will handle all the packing, there are a million and one details left to sort out. Remember to have the water people come and take their cooler back. Sort out interim health/life insurance coverage until new kicks in. What on earth are the cats going to travel in? And what am I going to do with them (and the children) next Wednesday when the movers are here (short day at school that day, The Spouse will be out of town, and we won't have a temporary apartment in Moscow until the following day)?
In the Good News Column, we will have a rental car waiting for us in Luxembourg when we arrive, as well as temporary digs. We can go there directly from the airport. The question is, how long do we think it will take us to find a permanent place to rent? Two weeks? Four?
The mind reels.