Welcome to Moscow


I walk into a mobile phone store to get myself a Russian SIM card and someone asks me what I want, in Russian.  I suddenly understand how different written and spoken language truly is; all the time I’ve spent learning written Russian is useless now.  Maybe I’m tired, I just spent forty hours awake getting here from Australia, but even then I know that I never really practised speaking and feel like a complete idiot.  I fall back to asking in English for a SIM card and the guy turns to the woman working next to him to see if she would like this customer.  We have a faltering three-way conversation during which I manage to sign away my life with my passport number to acquire a card that I’m assured will work in every city I’m going to visit across Russia.  As I’m leaving the shop to return to my meanderings on Old Arbat street here in central Moscow, I become aware that something is terribly wrong.

In Russian, that’s pronounced ‘Moo Moo’
This is a franchise Russian fast food joint.

My experiment back at my hotel on combining Russian, English and continental brekafasts is causing political turmoil in my stomach.  I think the continental breakfast has surrendered, but thrown in a processed meat hand grenade for the rest to deal with.  This probably doesn’t mix well with the sausage and egg English assault who are negotiating with the Russian blini for the return of the cheese it’s sheltering.  None of this is going back the way it came in though.  No, some dissident bacon has opened the back door and is determined to lead a revolt.  I know I have about five minutes to find a toilet or suffer terribly.  My hotel is still fairly close, and I decide that making it back there is the best option.  Why I don’t just head into McDonalds, I don’t know; but it does always feel like entering a temple to the worst kind of soul destroying denizen from the nine hells.

I do, however, make it back to my room just in time and I’m greatly relieved.  I return much more happily to my wanderings up Old Arbat street.  I notice a sign that looks like a snake drinking a martini.  For a moment I think they must have some wild club inside that serves wildlife oriented cocktails.  Maybe they have shows involving women and snakes and a drunken pig in a fishtank underneath the bar.  Perhaps for a fee you can get photos with the pig.. or the women…maybe both, who can tell what these crazy Russians are into.  Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read the Russian writing next to it to reveal it’s just a pharmacy.  If you visit Moscow and find that club with the fishtank, by the way, please let me know where it is so I can visit and claim my free drinks for the idea.

I would like a fishtank for my pig please.

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