Miriam Elder, The Guardian
The Soviet Union was notorious for its endless form-filling and procrastination. Nothing much seems to have changed, as BBC Moscow correspondent discovered when she tried to get some dry cleaning done.
On the face of it, life in Moscow is not easy. Either you’re dodging speeding cars, or praying your plane won’t crash; paying an arm and a leg for groceries, or avoiding those who have availed themselves of the country’s dirt cheap vodka. But deeper down, there is something called the “Russian soul”. Without going into the details, this means that life in Russia – life in its cultural, philosophical sense – is richer than anywhere.
1. Moscow has the best theatre in the world, making London and New York look something like backwaters. Classics such as Chekhov and Gogol are constantly reinterpreted, new plays are performed, often with subtle (and not so subtle) commentary on the political scene. It’s not uncommon to leave the theatre in tears – you’ve felt something!
2. Life in Moscow is never boring; it is a sea of absurdity. Leave the house and you might run into a horse on the street. Why? Just because. Get into a taxi and you’ll be regaled with the driver’s life story – I’ve met everyone from former nuclear scientists to a man who claims to have been to Vladimir Putin’s home in East Germany in the 1980s. Amazing fashion (that lady who matched her leopard-print hat to her bag to her shoes, or that man with the mullet to end all mullets) also falls into this category.
3. The weather. Yes, the weather. You haven’t felt the true joy of spring until you’ve made it through a Russian winter.
4. The underground scene is still the underground scene. In the west, punk rock and street art have long sold out, capitulated to commercialisation. In Russia, punk rockers Pussy Riot are in jail for their performances. Radical artists Voina have been arrested over and over for their political art. They are truly fighting the system. ME