Pause for thought...

>> Friday, 22 January 2010

It's very easy to get caught up in daily life here, just like one does wherever you live.

The school run might consist of pulling a sledge along snowy tracks rather than jumping in the car and driving through the bijoux streets of Chelsea, but it's still, when all's said and done, the school run. A trip to the supermarket may involve a taxi ride along busy roads to the biggest hypermarket in Europe (more of which another time), and leaps of faith once you get there as to whether the tin of tuna you're buying is in brine or oil, or whether the bread you're purchasing is going to taste like cardboard, but you're still doing the weekly shop. Petty frustrations such as having nowhere to hang your coats or dry your laundry are solved by the same ubiquitous solution - an Ikea trip - that you might resort to back home.

But every now and again, the enormity of how our lives have changed hits me.

For example, as this morning, when I was walking through clouds of glitter as the humidity in the air was transformed by the freezing temperature into sparkling ice crystals (oh-so-pretty, but very drying for the skin, sweetie). As at the Parent Teacher Organisation (henceforth to be referred to as the PTO, because something tells me this may not be the last time I mention them) coffee morning I attended for parents new to the school, where everyone in the room introduced themselves and I was one of only 2 or 3 new parents who was an expat for the first time. Lists of previous postings as long as your arm were trotted out and nobody batted an eyelid. Or as when I climbed into a taxi with the boys and, after helping them knock their feet together to get rid of the snow (taxi drivers understandably prefer that you don't bring it in to their car with you), listened to them wish the taxi driver 'good morning' in Russian.

It's not all great, of course. I'm bored with not having curtains upstairs and having to get dressed and showered in the dark until that situation's sorted, and with not having an iron yet, which means that my already limited wardrobe is restricted to whatever doesn't look too creased. (Oh, alright; same old same old on that one, really).

I miss having my family close at hand and long conversations on the phone with my mum and my sis (although skype should sort that out). I miss the easy camaraderie and the chatty coffees with my 'mum friends' that I used to have pre-school pick-up in Baker & Spice or Paul's. I miss my girlfriends, who I've known for so long that we can use short-hand in conversation and know immediately what we're on about when we refer to the packet of chewing gum one of them always used to take with her on nights out at the student union.

I miss the ease and convenience of my London life (the supermarket round the corner, the two tube station 5 minutes walk away, the 4 Starbucks at each point of the compass, and the streets and shortcuts that I know like the back of my hand).

But all of that will still be there, waiting, when we finally head home (whenever that may be). There will be new friends, and new shared histories, to add to the old ones. Maybe I'll even manage to break myself of my addiction to Starbucks' hot chocolate.

And in the meantime I am determined to make this adventure - living in Moscow - as real as possible. Athough maybe not quite so real that we actually eat the bread that tastes like cardboard...


Heather 22 January 2010 at 11:55  

all sounds rather exciting, the Russian language terrifies me. we have quite a few Russians living in our nearest town they always sound so angry when they talk with the language being so harsh...or maybe they're all just really upset Russians in our town.

Footballers Knees 22 January 2010 at 14:04  

Excellent post, so descriptive, it's as if I was there. Wish I was! (Well, sort of!).

Liz@Violet Posy 22 January 2010 at 14:12  

I've really been enjoying your posts this week about your new life. Like you say it's an adventure - sometimes you might have to say that to yourself a few times like when you're trying to find your duvet, but it's going to fabulous. xx

nappy valley girl 22 January 2010 at 16:07  

You sound as if you are doing incredibly well after only 2 weeks. The language barrier must be very daunting - at least out here everyone speaks the same language (even if they don't always understand my accent)Definitely get Skype, and a decent webcam, for talking to friends and family. And remember - apparently spending time abroad makes you more resilient and able to meet challenges (or according to some article we read in the FT, anyway...).

Mwa 22 January 2010 at 16:35  

I hope you get to know lots of those expats soon - I bet they all have the same problems so solutions could be shared.

Expat mum 22 January 2010 at 18:45  

Brilliant attitude. It will serve you well.
No iron - think about hanging stuff in the shower just after you've had one to steam the creases out. Ooops - I should have checked whether you had a shower first. Hope I didn't rub salt in any wounds.

Calif Lorna 23 January 2010 at 00:02  

I've just caught up on all your new posts, it sounds as though you're so organised already.

School, supermarkets, house all sorted, I'm so impressed.

I'm sure you'll be settled in very soon and making lots of new mummy friends.

sharon 23 January 2010 at 03:08  

With that attitude you'll be 'at home' in Moscow in no time at all PM.

Noble Savage 23 January 2010 at 16:26  

I love your positive outlook and excitement about your new adventure. Such a great thing to possess in what would make many people depressed and miserable. And now you get to say "From Russia with love" in seriousness. ;-)

Bush Mummy 23 January 2010 at 20:43  

I remember feeling just like that when I moved to NYC for nine months in 2000. But the weird thing is that when you come back, everything will be EXACTLY how it was when you left. You think you might be missing something, but you really are not. And you will be having the much bigger adventure.

We do miss you by the way although obviously it doesn't feel like you are that far away..

BM xx

Potty Mummy 24 January 2010 at 10:41  

Heather, yes, I know what you mean about Russian; it does sound quite aggressive (Especially when you can't understand a word that's being said...)

FK, well, here's hoping you will be soon enough!

Thanks Liz - and it's the duvet cover, actually. Where the hell did I put them?

NVG, thank god for skype, yes! And as for being more resilient - I'll let you know when I notice that. How about you - have you found that?

Mwa, yes, I'm hopeful that they do!

EPM, we DO have a shower - thank heavens. (So, no salt on that one - although I'm sure you can think of plenty more!)

Lorna, here's hoping!

Sharon, it's amazing but it does seem to be working out that way. Although I have to say that we're very fortunate with the neighbourhood we live in - a lot of the grittier realities of living here are not on our doorstep.

NS - I know! And can you believe I haven't done that yet? Note to self - use that without irony soon...

Thanks BM - and thank heavens for the internet; the world is a much smaller place because of it,I don't feel anywhere near as isolate as I might otherwise have done.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings 24 January 2010 at 13:38  

It's going to be an adventure, that is for sure. I know I couldn't leave my family and move that far away. You are much braver/adventurous that I am!

Potty Mummy 24 January 2010 at 14:13  

Hi Lisa, the thing is, it really doesn't feel that far. I just spent 20 minutes chatting with my sis on skype - and the amazing thing was, this video call was free! So we're nowhere near as isolated as you might imagine

Sarah Ebner 25 January 2010 at 19:46  

Got to wish you luck with all this - and say that PTA/PTOs are scary enough in the UK, let alone in Moscow. Look forward to hearing more about it...

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