>> Monday, 16 April 2012
Many, many years ago, back in the mid-1990’s when I first visited Moscow, I was struck by the number of florist stands in evidence. Although things have changed in Britain on this front now, back then there might have been one ‘proper’ florist on most UK high streets, along with a green grocer selling tulips or daffs depending on the season. There was rarely more than that unless you counted the sad looking carnations piled into buckets on garage fore-courts – and I don’t. Or didn’t, back then.
In 1995 Moscow however, there were tsveti (flower) kiosks on every corner and outside every metro station; tiny admittedly, but still there, a beacon of colour and cheerfulness amongst what seemed at the time to be rather a lot of grey. I was touched by the number of girls on dates who proudly carried a single flower for the evening, if perhaps a little puzzled that more substantial bouquets weren’t much in evidence. If anything, however, I imagined the reason for this would be the sheer inconvenience of carrying a bunch of flowers around with you; yes, they’re lovely to look at, but have you ever tried to get one home undamaged on the metro?
Ah, the sweet innocence of youth. Fast-forward 15 years to 2010 and it was my first International Women’s Day (or March 8th) in Russia. Like any good wife I made it clear to Husband that flowers were expected – no, mandatory – on this day of days, and so, not wanting to disillusion me quite so soon after we arrived here, he delivered. A very lovely bouquet it was, too, and out interest, I asked him what it cost. When he told me the penny finally dropped; the reason those girls walked around holding a single rose as if it was worth it’s weight in gold? Well, it more or less was.
On learning this, I promptly announced that whilst I loved flowers, I preferred trips ‘home’ more, so we’ve not had so many flowers adorning our house here in Moscow over the last couple of years. I’m guessing that the reason they are so expensive is due to the cost of shipping them in from warmer climes / Dutch hot-houses, although Russian friends of mine disagree, muttering darkly about middle-men and greed. Whatever the reason for it, I hadn’t realised how much I missed having that splash of colour around the place, especially during the colder months, until this weekend when we had some friends over for dinner and one of them brought us the most beautiful bunch of tulips.
So, whilst looking at them nodding cheerfully at me over my lap top screen as I write this post and they take over our dining room table (did you know that tulips continue to grow once cut?) I wondered if, in these credit-crunched times, flowers really are so much more expensive here than back in the UK. I decided to do a little comparative price research; a bunch of 15 tulips from our local tsveti stand , versus what people are paying for the same back in the UK; in which country would they cost more?
Let’s just say that whenever we eventually move 'home', I’m not sure Husband will be bringing me many more bunches of flowers than he does now...
This post was first published on my other blog, 'Diaries of a Moscow Mum' over at The Moscow Times Online.