26 September 2006

The Things We Love About Moscow

Transportation-Down(Metro): Ok..I may have told you that it is a furnace, dirty and overcrowded; but it is simply the best. Comparing with what I have experienced as mass transit in turkey (small or midi buses with greasy seats, smelling and ape-like chain smoking drivers), it is a heaven in transportation. And the roads are always jammed up on the surface in Moscow (you can have a good time waiting for hours in your fancy supercars and listening to the russian radio channels (no thanks!)). You can get to the other end of the city in minutes (and reminding you that Moscow is a giant city, this can take more than an hour). So all you need to do is to avoid rush hours (7-9 am and 6-8 pm) and you can even get a seat. So when asking for address, just ask for the metro station nearby..and another interesting fact is that, nearly every metro station has a McDonald's nearby. So prepare to surface the earth level with a familiar stench of overused cooking oil (aka McMotoroil).

Transportation-Up (Taxis): Once a pride of the socialist industrial output, the Ladas (especially the old ones) are now roaming the Moscow's boulevards in pursuit of a single movement of your hands. Make the gesture and they stop to get you anywhere you like in the limits of the oblast (for the sum of roubles you agree upon). It is cheap, relatively secure and you can even practice some russian with those guys. (Or even get some historical debate with the armenians (who seem more friendly to turkish and reasonable than their kins in the diaspora)). But don't forget that they like to double the price if they sense a glimpse of some foreign accent in your russian. All you need to do is to insist on the price or choose from the already forming queue of thirsty taxi drivers...It is always useful if you tend to waste yourself in the abyss of cheap booze on weekends. No need to worry about the traffic alcohol limits, the valiant azerbaijanians will take you home safe and sound. (Tell them you are turkish and wait for some discounts..no way!)

Social Services: It is hard to believe that every flat has a constant supply of boiling water (actually it is nearly the boiling point when you are not sharing all the flux with your neighbors). And it is free! No need to hussle for built-in boilers, water and gas fees (gas is also free!). Some of you may have cheated (or agreed with) your landlords for electricity so all you need to pay is your rent at the end of the month. No electric, water and gas fees...yummy!

Piracy: DVDs Ahoy! Although we share the same passion with our slavic brethren, the purchase of licensed material for less price, the business has reached gigantic proportions in Moscow. There is even a mall-like structure in here (aka Garbushka) where you can find from vintage classics to the latest versions of estonian gay porn. All you need to do is to get to know which stand sells what kind. You can easily check by the clothing of the sellers. My favourite is Aleksei (who dresses as a late victorian english merchant) selling avantgarde movie dvds and Margarita (actually it is a common name in Russia)(who wears tight red blouse with some trillion priercings and a purple hair) selling japanese manga. The only goof is the language options in the dvds. They are all dubbed (please try to imagine a post-soviet guy, talking OVER the original dub..yuck!) in russian but you can always find in original languages. So ask the sellers if the movie is in a language that you can understand...and the most critical part is not to be tricked! They will say yes to your every question (even though the film is only in russian with chinese subtitles)..so ask them to show it in their TV sets in their stands (yes most of them have it). All you need to do is to have a basic russian :) I think I don't need to tell about mp3's, CD's and other digitally pirated stuff...and stay away from baltic gay porn.

Originals: Who would need a dirty pirate copy when you can buy a shiny and a glamorous original for an addition of 50-100 roubles (2-5 $)...God bless the Russian Government Cultural Policy. And it also doesn't look good when you have a chic flat with shelves loaded with shabby pirate dvds :) So do something for the good of "yourself and the society" (oh, it sounded like a socialist propaganda hehehe) and buy original...so I think I have avoided any lawsuits here...and stay away from "original" baltic gay porn.

Booze: Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time nearby the vodka shelves in a local supermarket. Not that I am a drunk (not yet) but there was a long queue and the cashier's incompetency had reached lyrical levels when she stopped working and ran away to the back alley in tears (please wait for my views on russian work ethics). So I enjoyed my time, checking the hundreds of vodka labels that this country can offer. Actually I prefer my vodka with something to supress its neutral and evil tastelessness (especially Red Bull or apple juice) but I have seen that there are more than 10 brands (with lots of variants) even in a medium supermarket. The cheapest starts from 1$ and the most expensive was 50$ (a collectors edition..actually there will be nothing to collect after you have consumed all that liquid). If you like some pre-made cocktails, there are also a lots of variants, starting from gin-tonic to vodka-melon. But don't ever forget that this is way different than what you sexy portuguese barman is shaking for you, it is ethyl alcohol and some artificial aroma. So don't be a regular russian (drinking those alcoPOPs near the metro exits) and get yourself a good plastic shaker from a nearby IKEA and make your own genuine cocktails...but; what the hell it is so cheap!!

Nightlife: I admit that this is a topic by itself. I have seen many places and many clubs; but I can say that (as i already did in my latest Wash Dosug interview) Moscow is the best so far. You can get everything you want: Get wasted, get laid or get ousted from a club. All you need is basic russian and basic bank account with 5 digits. Don't forget that nobody is interested in a sweaty tourist (especially a poor one). Forget about what you are told or what you have fantasized...Wait for my hottest tips for "how to get" in Moscow club scene..

I think I will add some more as I spend more time in this city...till then, God bless Mother Russia

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