Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Crazy Neighbours

Life in Moscow is certainly never dull. For some time now I've had a complicated relationship with my neighbours who live down the hall. The apartment belongs to a monolingual Russian couple and their kid, the wife seemingly spending most of her time inhabiting the landing.

To spice up her life, in recent months she's taken to listening for any female visitors of mine, and when she hears the telltale click of stiletto's, she leaps out from the apartment and launches a volley of abuse in our direction, accusing these poor innocent girls of being prostitutes, and occasionally rating them against their immediate predecessors.

Shortly after New Year, I arrived home one evening to find a huge mass of clothing, boxes, and other detritus piled on our landing, accompanied by a large handwritten sign. The sign indicated that the wife had returned home that afternoon to find her husband in bed with a back alley hooker from Khabarovsk (her graphic description of said hooker was not flattering), and as such he could now find alternate accommodation. Apparently he came home a little later, was a little perturbed to find his underwear and other belongings strewn in the hallway, and ejected the wife and kid for a month.

Yesterday evening, I was surprised to hear a knock at the door, and this incredibly drunken couple and their friends were outside my door, entreating me to join them for shots and celebrations for Vladimir's birthday. We immediately began to drink shot after shot of vodka, eat all the traditional Russian delicacies, from black bread with sale (lard), to pickles, Strogonoff, Salad Olivier and more types of pickled zakuski than I could jump over. Vlad was determined to get a loan from me (the subtle differences between investment banking and personal loans was lost on him), while Marina continued her abuse of me and my lifestyle, and vowed to find me a "nice" Russian girl to marry (although she also made several graphic offers of herself should I be willing to pay). I introduced them to DJ Кэм and brought over a bottle of Smoko (home-made Swedish liquor). We sang in Russian and English, they plied me with endless gifts of DHL clothing (his employer), and made me wear a Nerpa* hat.

8-10 shots later, I staggered to the door to get ready to meet my friends for dinner, and returned many hours later (tiptoeing as usual) to find a bag of fresh fruit outside my door as a gift from my new friends. While Marina will no doubt continue her abuse (with hopefully no more offers of herself), I felt honoured to have these wonderful, warm, if somewhat quirky people welcome me into their lives and share their hospitality and celebrations with me.

*A Nerpa is a rare freshwater seal from Lake Baikal.


cmotes said...


I read this three times, each time thinking that this could not be real.

In the photos, which one is the husband?

cmotes said...

How did the husband/wife go from hating each other after the prostitute incident to knocking on your door seeking your companionship?

Cam said...

Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up...

The husband is the skinny guy in the brown sweater dancing in the first pic.

As for the second question- I can't answer that one, maybe it has something to do with the beautiful new (20RUB/$0.80) jewellery she was showing off last week.

Randal said...

Nice shirt in the photo with you and the Nerpa hat :)