5 things that annoy me in Moscow

While I have loved and am still loving my time in the former Soviet motherland, I have my rage moments. It's no secret that no country is perfect, instead each country has its own, special rage triggers. Here the five things that most commonly make me want to pull a Michael Douglas a-la Falling down 

5 – VIP mania

It seems a many Russians, mainly of the moneyed variety are obsessed with the idea of VIP. Any excuse to show off or distinguish themselves in some way will do,You could probably market a turd here for $100 - proved it had Dolce Gabbana embossed on it.

Every club has various levels of VIP bullshit  that the team is also thrown around very loosely. You will most frequently encounter it at the cinema buying a ticket when the ticket lady asks you: ВИП или эконом? Naturally you say ekonom an your girlfriend's vagina spontaneously becomes drying than the Sahara Desert  The answer is always Ekonom. 

The special VIP seats are usually right next to the standard seats, it’s not like you get any special treatment or a view box or anything. It’s the same deal with the VIP bowling lanes which are, you guessed it, next to the normal bowling lanes. Thus in conclusion, VIP is bullshit.

4 – Face control in clubs
I kind of ranted about this here, but for those who don’t know, face control is a type of dress/attitude code for getting into clubs. The rules behind face control are a mystery - sometimes you need to be an arrogant douche to beat face control, sometimes you need to be dressed in a certain way (informal, super formal etc) but one thing is for sure, it’s unpredictable. I’ve seen people get into clubs, come out for a chat on their mobiles and get face controlled on the way back in, it’s that fucked up. 

Every time you plan a night out, you need two or three backups in case you get faced by a dynamic duo of Mullet/skinhead rocking security guards acting as your personal fashion judges.

3 – Oxrankiki (security guards)

If you've been to Russia for any stretch of time you will have probably noticed the ubiquitous ochraniks. Not only do they look at you like you are planning a heist, they in almost every store, from large to small, cinemas, swimming pools, gyms – you name the place and there they are, giving you the thief look.

Even KFC in Russia has security guards, protecting that delicious chicken booty. 

While it might sound like a good idea to have all that security around, you should see these security guards in action - or lack of. For example, walking into a cinema they might look in your bags but their searching skills are on the level of a small child who has not yet graduated bag-searching school yet. I could (and probably will one day) smuggle a Ukrainian gymnast prostitute into any cinema of my choosing and they’d be none the wiser.
Security is everywhere, they're douches and they suck. 

2 – Value for money

Now I don’t know about other cities in Russia, but in Moscow value for money is a concept which has almost no meaning. Whether or not this affects you depends on your pay check I guess, but I know that for a lot of Russians their wages most certainly don’t keep up with inflation. 

Rich Russians buy products and pay exorbitant premiums solely for the VIP factor without considering cost.

Not getting value for money here starts with that average cup of machine coffee for a million dollars, spreads to you paying up to four times the cost for clothing and ends with you paying 36000 roubles per month to share a cardboard box  with a terburculosis-infected homless glue sniffer near a metro station on the yellow line. 

Sadly there has emerged among some Russians a somewhat class-based, elitny mentality which translates into you shelling out big time.   

1 – Queues

Oh boy, number one always was and always will be waiting in massive lines, although the size of the line isn't always the problem.
What I actually mean is the way queues are formed. Russians don't really have any rules for standing in lines, it's shockingly brutal free-for-all, but there is a particular maneuver they pull that gets me every time, allow me to expand: You have a window with a teller behind it (this used to happen to me all the time in Sberbank, but happens on the street too), you are waiting behind one person and have formed a queue to the left, then, someone else arrives and joins the queue from the right. Why, I don’t know, but then another one or two people join the queue to the right and you are now in the minority queue. The situation is made worse when it’s babushkas that are doing the forming. See the neat diagram i made:
I noticed this also happens a lot when buying stuff from kiosks too. Rarely a day passes that I don't see this move / become a victim of it.
Thankfully, these days I do my banking online and have since become a calmer, more serene expat because of it

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jake on December 18, 2009 at 4:20 AM said...

Haha! #1 has happened to me many times in Russia and Ukraine as well. Too funny. People dont try that crap here in Los Angeles.... well, in the Russian district they do (naturally). -1916home.net

PS.. Great blog! Ive enjoyed reading it all day!

Lt. Columbo on March 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM said...

happens all the time! glad to see you've shared the pain lol

Anonymous said...

this blog in unbelievable, thank you so much for investing your time into making it a fantastic read!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I found your blog while looking for a way to venge myself on a particularly difficult and rude russian client (i am a designer working on a beer project)and it made me laugh- can't help asking tho, are you REALLY english? Your spelling/vocabulary are so american. Just curious to know...
I'm a brit in France and there are a few things here that drive me nuts too. Chin up!

Lt. Columbo on February 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM said...

yeah, im a brit, but most of my friends here are american, so my speech and style has been affected /bastardised :)

Lt. Columbo on February 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM said...

russians can be a nightmare to deal with at times though. the rudeness and arrogance combos etc

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