A continuous traffic jam, big furious men hunched over their steering wheels, pounding the horns of tiny decrepit cars. At times the air is rancid with exhaust.
A carefully constructed sandy beach in an ancient arched cellar, where pale hipsters in cheap imitation Ray Bans drank warm vodka shots from plastic cups. Then danced barefoot in the sand, digging in their toes.
I read in the Moscow times that the first Starbucks recently opened here. On opening day, those who could afford it came & bought their decaf soy lattes. Others quietly slipped in & stole all the toilet seats for their homes.
And the cigarettes. Everywhere in cabs, shops, elevators, bars, cafes, airports, trains - a whole nation with white smoke running from its mouth.
I kept wondering why KFC here had dispensed with the image of the Colonel, and instead used the image of a smiling chicken in a chef’s hat. I eventually reached the conclusion that Colonel Sanders looks too much like Lenin.
Have I painted an unpleasant picture? Don’t get me wrong – I prefer this place to London. This place has a life that London has lost, this place feels a little unhinged, dangerous. And it's changing - everything in Moscow is a little fucked, but the skyline bristles with cranes & construction. Homogenised, over-polished London, with its rules against smoking, running, ballgames, chewing gum, & public drinking has... lost something.
By comparison as a city, London seems to have been neutered.