>> Monday, 21 November 2011
I think that perhaps I should be quite offended.
Today, I took a formal guided tour around The Moscow Kremlin for the first time. (I say 'The Moscow Kremlin' because most old Russian cities - and indeed, many cities outside Russia proper - have their own 'Kremlin', as the actual word means 'fortress'; not something you might be aware of if you've never visited here).
It was fascinating, and I'm very glad I did it. Shame it was ruddy freezing and that it's taken me nearly two years of living here to get round to it, but there you go...
Anyway. The moment that caused offence. To enter the Kremlin one has - of course - to go through a security gate manned by armed soldiers. You step through the metal detector, submit your bag for a cursory search and that's it, job done. At least - job done for the four ladies I was on the tour with.
However, after I had gone through the standard procedure, the soldier pulled me to one side and mumbled something in Russian. I couldn't hear it properly so asked him to repeat it - and then I still couldn't understand it. At this stage, he realised I spoke English and asked me very matter-of-factly if I had any guns in my bag.
Guns? In my bag?
Well, I laughed and said no, of course not. But when I discovered that none of my friends had been asked the same question (we were clearly part of the same group), it all became horribly clear.
The soldier thought I was their body-guard.
I guess you can't blame the poor man; two of my friends were tricked out in expensive fur coats, whilst the other two were looking significantly more designer-clad than dressed-for-warmth North-Face branded me, but still. A body guard? I mean, I knew my hat was bad, but really...