Arriving in Moscow in 2010, I optimistically thought I’d give myself a few months to understand the place before I dared write about it. A year later, it was obvious I could wait a lifetime, so instead here’s a random collection of my observations and experiences in the Russian capital, veering from classrooms, polyclinics and producti to bars and dachas and the circus, via metros, marshrutki and, yes, traffic jams.
It features some people I know – Irina, my long-suffering Russian teacher; my friend Yevgenia, who is building her own dacha; Volodhya, our building’s caretaker – and many I don’t, from the drivers I hitch with to get cheaply around Moscow (normal here) to the babushki who shout at me because my children don’t wear snow trousers in September.
It can’t always be trusted, as, despite my efforts, my Russian remains embarrassingly bad, and for much of the time I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. It’s also not intended to be a whinge, and – when it is – it should at least have the decency to be funny.
Oh, and it isn’t really Mrs Putin’s, so don’t get confused. Hers has a flashing blue light on top.