Pros and Cons

Things that have gone well since I have arrived in Russia:

1. My flat has WiFi. I will be entertained.

2. My flat also has air conditioning. I will not melt.

3. I was hoping my flat would have either WiFi or air conditioning. It has both. Whoop!

4. My flat has a number of vases of plastic flowers. They’re tacky and delightful. Just like me.

5. My flat has a conservatory. Beat that.

6. My flat has a giant TV and on some channels you can switch off the Russian dubbing and listen to the original language.

7. I can now read the Cyrillic alphabet without too much hassle.

8. My Polish really makes understanding Russian far less difficult.

9. The people seem friendly so far.

10. The shops in Russia are open on Sundays. So much better than France, Germany or Spain.

11. The Russian version of a pound shop or a two-euro shop is a 37-rouble shop, which is charming.

12. This city is green and leafy and full of trees.

Things that have not gone so well since I have arrived in Russia:

1. My baggage and I are still separated. The people at the airport were phenomenally unhelpful. I was told yesterday that my bag was in Moscow. I was told today that it’s in Kiev. It might come this evening. It might also come in a week.

2. My kitchen smells of cured meat.

3. There is a mysterious large bucket in the bathroom, beside the toilet. It is full of water. I don’t know if there’s a leak, or if someone was interrupted while cleaning, or if there’s something peculiar about the plumbing that means you need to have a full bucket of water beside the toilet at all times, just in case.

4. Every light fitting and lampshade in Russia was chosen by an elderly woman.

5. The last two people to do my job here were both called “Richard”, so every single piece of course documentation refers to me as “Richard”. I guess I’d better get my Richard on.

6. My flat is on the fourteenth floor and the lift is incredibly slow. It will break down. It will.

7. I have yet to successfully send a text message from Russia.

8. Today I heard a (relatively young) man utter the sentence “Once my wife died, I had the time and money to learn Russian properly”.

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