The Moscow Life
Late summer in Moscow brings out the last of us who have been laying low and working too hard, or just hiding out during the long winter season that we know can stretch into April; and so by August or thereabouts, the clock is ticking on Moscow’s summer. I am out on the streets seeking that late summer fix of warm and sunny afternoons and evenings. With no summer dacha in my life, I spend my time strolling, or sitting in some of the hundreds of outdoor cafes scattered in parks, along the tree-lines boulevards, or just tucked away in a courtyard behind some unfriendly looking Stalin-era apartment building. Since summers here can bring evenings that look like afternoons and stretch on into the late evening, I can lead a double life all in one day – work for eight hours and then play for eight hours, all before total darkness sets in at midnight.
My “nightlife” tends to rotate among the watering holes of the expat world of Moscow. And aren’t we a mixed bag, us expats! Some of us don’t even like to be called expats. And, are we really “ex-patriots”… as in never to set foot in our native lands again? Of course not! We are not exiles; nor are we loving it here so much that we never think of going home. In fact, we think of going home all the time, but for one reason or the other, we can’t. So we do the next best thing – we seek out other expats and rub shoulders, hypothetical, if not actually. And we seek each other out for all the typical social needs of the human animal.
Let’s take a break from being in Russia…let’s talk English (or French, or German, or Japanese) with folks who don’t look at us funny as they peer over at us in the Metro, on the street corner, or at the markets. Let’s go where everybody knows our name, to paraphrase that great American TV show, CHEERS. It was not for nothing that CHEERS ran for years and years – we in the U.S. loved to watch the same old crowd at the Cheers Bar hang out and share the little dramas of their lives week after week. Living your life as an expat in Moscow? Gather together and share the experience. Most of us have that place that we like to hang out in, knowing we will be greeted with the Russian version of a welcome – keeping in mind that most of our watering holes are owned, operated and profiting on us by Russians. That’s OK by me… just so they display that rare Moscow smile made just for me. I admit it; I am a sucker for a Russian smile of all kinds – just so it is directed at me!
My favorite expat watering hole in Moscow? I know you’ve been there at least once – Scandinavia! That great courtyard filled with giant leafy trees… That bar set up just inside the entrance to the courtyard… Those heat lamps and lap blankets ready to keep you warm if the night gets chilly… And smiling waitresses! A margarita or a mojita? No problem!
So come on out to the Moscow we have grown too used to – warm, sunny and dry. Its not gonna last! A chill in the air is around the corner. Get out while you can and join your fellow expatriate and always compatriot friends at your favorite indoor, but I hope outdoor, hangout. Cheers!