Monday, 25 January 2010

Is your handbag comfortable?

Husband and I had our first night out without the children since we arrived in Moscow on Saturday. We went to a restaurant in the middle of town where I made a number of interesting discoveries...

a) Borsch is actually quite nice (and a little spicier than I anticipated). I know, with my long history of association with Russia, you would have thought I would have got round to trying it sooner, but for some reason the thought of beetroot soup never appealed... However, to celebrate our Moscow adventure I thought I should probably kick off the meal with something locally relevant. Well, it was that or a shot of vodka, and I thought I should save that for a time when there wasn't going to be a walk to the metro along icy streets afterwards.

b) Following 6 weeks of a total lack of gym attendance, it seems my body is a fickle thing and a dress that had fit perfectly pre-Christmas now... does not. Dammit.

c) Superstition assumes a whole other level here. Shortly after we arrived in Moscow a friend told me not to leave my handbag on the floor as the Russians think it bad luck. This may have something to do with the fact that very often the ground (when you're outside or in a public area, at least), actually is quite mucky. Inside people's homes, however, shoes are always - but ALWAYS - left at the front door, and floors are usually mopped every day to collect the dust that seems to get everywhere (that's what you get when there are power stations actually inside the city, I suppose), so it's rarely a problem. However, in the spick and span swanky restaurant last night, the floor seemed faultless, so I put my handbag next to my feet under the table. The result? Within two minutes our waitress sashayed up the to table with a look that clearly said 'You poor deluded ignorant foreigner' and, I'm not joking here, brought up a special doll-sized miniature chair, which she placed on the floor next to my seat. For my handbag.


  1. No I'm not madly keen on beetroot myself but may be tempted to try the soup now. Congrats on a night out with husband so soon after the move. Love the idea of a special chair for your handbag ;-)

    The fickle figure? I'm thinking of going for the shapeless sack look myself. Everything that hasn't spread outwards is heading south at an alarming rate. Quite depressing really!

  2. The handbag thing must be general Eastern Bulgarian cleaner does it too...

  3. I LOVE Russia for that chair for your handbag thing. How brilliant is that? Wonder if everyone in the UK will think I'm nuts if I try to implement it over here ...

  4. What an excellent idea - how about shipping some of those chairs over here? Could be the start of your yummy mummy internet business which is the 'must have' for every woman over forty!

  5. I've heard of hooks for handbags (in places like All Bar One where you'll probably get too drunk to notice someone nicking it) but never a chair. What a great idea. Congratulations on finding a babysitter so quickly - I think it took us 3 months.....

  6. Not to be pessimistic... but the handbag thing might be to do with crime, too...

    Hope you're settling in x

  7. Oh sharon darling - apparantly all the best people (myself included) are working the shapeless sack look right now. Although of course in my case it's disguised by several layers of down-filled
    quilting to combat the cold....

    Keren, thanks for commenting; and as I said, I imagine this particular superstition is based in common sense. Still. A chair?

    Tara - try it. It would make a great blog post!

    MH, yes, I foresee a new trend sweeping the world - and you heard it here first.

    FK, are you suggesting I'm over forty? (Oh. Right. You're my sister. I suppose you would know.)

    NVG, ah yes, the babysitter; have to say that finding her was courtesy of a very kind friend who lives nearby. Thankgod for Dutch networking!

    Liz, crime? In Moscow? Oh no, you must be thinking of somewhere else...

  8. I hate putting my bag on the floor, it always gets covered in a layer of sand.

    In future, I shall insist on a handbag chair at all times. How civilized!

  9. That, is fabulous. Was it upholstered too?

    Borsht is great food, I had a temporary Russian flatmate who cooked buckets of it and I never did get a recipe come to think of it.

    Also, I can't believe you've already had a night out without the kids. We've not done that for months and we have two friends who owe us babysitting. You are SOO organised!

  10. There's a very posh restaurant here in Chicago (Tru) where they give your bag a footstool. I must admit I almost laughed out loud.
    However, I may have a solution for you. I was on a rare shopping outing today and saw lovely jewelled bag hooks. There's a flat bit that goes on the edge of the table, and it has a long-ish hook where you put your bag, to hang right beside you.
    The next trend I feel.

  11. Lorna, you had to throw in the reference to the beach there, didn't you? (Yes, I saw your post about smugly checking the UK weather report!)

    Sparx - it had to be done (the going out, not the chair, that is). After spending 3 weeks in pretty much sole charge, I needed TIME OFF!!!!!

    EPM, a 'jewelled' bag hook? That has 'Russian market opportunity' written all over it! Maybe you should send me a sample and we can explore opportunities...

  12. A special chair for your handbag - how great is that !

  13. It's common in Mexico as well. The concierge at our hotel told us it's something about all the money running out of your purse if it's left on the floor. In Mexico, they have purse stands. Almost like a small coat rack! By the end of my trip, I was a bit disappointed if one wasn't brought to the table!


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