Valentine's Day? Was that what it was?

>> Tuesday, 16 February 2010

As you may have noticed in yesterday's post, the Potski Familiski finally has access to a car in Moscow. This is most definitely a Good Thing, and has freed us up from the tyranny of the waiting for the Taxi that Never Comes, a frequent occurrence if you live off the beaten track in Moscow. Since we've moved to our new home we've heard the 'he has a flat tire' excuse, the 'he took the wrong road and couldn't get through the forest from there' excuse, the 'he went on the wrong road and got stuck in a traffic jam' excuse, and the best one so far, 'he doesn't come from Moscow so didn't know how to get to you' excuse (which does rather beg the question, why call yourself a taxi driver?).

Now however, we are free to hop in the car at any opportunity and be late because of our own stupid misdirections rather than someone else's. This weekend we took full advantage of that, trying as usual to fit in far more than we had time for, and on Saturday drove into the centre of town to try and find a few hard to get comestibles (wrapping paper, a birthday card, and eye-make-up remover. Didn't think they were hard to get, did you? Let's just say I'll be stocking up on my forthcoming trip to the UK...).

We found ourselves in a smart department store on the Novy Arbat and whilst I was making a purchase, the Boys were approached by 2 handsome young men wearing short (VERY short) Roman tunics, each bearing a tray of heart-shaped biscuits. Of course my sons took 2 each (oh, the shame; I never feed them, you know), and munched away as I made my purchase. Or rather, I tried to. In many Russian department stores they still operate the old Soviet-style system, as I found out when I tried to pay.

It works as follows; you go to the cosmetics counter. You select your eye-make-up remover. You try to pay. There follows a confusing pantomime where the lady behind the counter explains that you can't pay here, you have to pay over there at the till. She puts the product in a bag anyway, which you try to pick up. Then there is further confusion and a bit of tussling when she hands you a ticket, but not the bag or the product. Then your husband comes to the rescue whilst you wonder which parallel universe you are in, and he takes the ticket over to the till on the other side of the store, pays, comes back with the reciept, and you are finally handed what you came to buy. Why you can't take the product to the till I don't know (it's not as if these places aren't security guarded to the hilt), but that's how it's done. Now you know, should you ever find yourself short of eye-make-up remover in the former Soviet Union...

In any case, the Boys were happily eating their biscuits, as was Husband. I was, shall we say, enjoying the view of the young men in their tunics. And then Husband and I had the following conversation...

Him: "So, now you know where to come for cosmetics, at any rate."

Me: "Yes..."

Him: "And if you fancy a free biscuit you know where to come for that too."

Me: "Well, only until tomorrow, though."

Him: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Well, don't you think that two young men in toga's offering free heart-shaped biscuits might have something to do with it's being Valentine's Day tomorrow?"

Him: "Aaaah."

Needless to say, in the Potski household there was no further mention of February 14th's being a significant date...


Anonymous,  16 February 2010 at 13:18  

If he forgets March 8th, that's when you really have to worry.

Potty Mummy 16 February 2010 at 14:12  

Hi Solnushka - well, I'm hoping the bank holiday here might act as a reminder. (I'm grasping at straws and I know it...)

nappy valley girl 16 February 2010 at 14:20  

The store experience sounds a bit like Foyles bookshop in the old days - you had to take your book to one till, then pay somewhere else and there were always huge queues at both.....

You couldn't really miss Valentine's here, it is so completely in-your-face. Even the evening news had a Valentine's themed studio on Sunday!

Iota 16 February 2010 at 16:48  

Young men in short togas, offering biscuits? I think I've taken a wrong turning in the blogosphere and stumbled into a wrong blog somehow... All sounds very suspect.

A Modern Mother 16 February 2010 at 20:07  

hiya!!! Sounds like you are settling in nicely, eating biscuits and all that. New cosmetics?! The weather here SUCKS, grey, miserable,and I think it is affecting the entie population. Other than that, all is well...

Tattie Weasle 16 February 2010 at 20:48  

I love these old fashioned countries.....!!!! Actually how were the men in short tunics?

Anonymous,  16 February 2010 at 21:05  

What a great story, I love the togas.

Pig in the Kitchen 16 February 2010 at 21:37  

ah the communist system for purchasing goods, I remember it with loathing! They have the same system in China, and bizarrely in certain French department stores, most notably 'Galeries Lafayette'. What can we deduce from that I wonder? That the French are very backward? Yes, probably.

Hurrah for the car! Valentine's day is overrated. Altho I got champagne and chocolates this year, we NEVER celebrate Valentine's day. Which is why he didn't get anything. Ooops.

Potty Mummy 17 February 2010 at 08:48  

Hi NVG, yes, I hear Valentine's Day is a big deal over there. Luckily we escaped - mainly through ignorance on our part, I think!

Iota, life in Moscow is many things, but boring is not one of them...

Modern, not so much new cosmetics, just equipment to get rid of the old ones... And yes, we're fine, thanks!

Tattie, they were surprisingly cheerful, actually!

HB - that makes two of us.

Pig, ah well. Put on the chartreuse fur lined bra I sent you and he'll forget all about missed significant dates, I guarantee it...

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