The Memory Box

>> Monday, 16 July 2012

Vegemite Vix has written a post asking expats what they would put in their memory box from their current country of residence, and bearing in mind that since in the 6 days I've been back in the UK on holiday, if I've been asked 'What's it like in Russia?' once, I've been asked 50 times, that subject's top of mind for me right now.

My memory box would be huge. There is so much to living in Moscow - and so much living to be done in Moscow - that it's hard to know where to start, but here are a few choice memories...

Like Vix, I would have to include a transport ticket; specifically a Moscow Metro ticket.  So many expats never venture onto this wonder of the world, and yet it really is spectacular; not only in appearance, but in speed and efficiency.  Sure, it can be smelly in the summer, and confusing if you can't read cyrillic, but once you've mastered the latter (and done your best to avoid the former by not travelling in rush hour in the heat of summer), it's fantastic.

Then, I would have to reference my increasing interest in photography, inspired by how photogenic this city can be.  I would include one of the black and white photographs I've taken on the Metro.  It would be hard to choose which, but right now I think it would probably be this one.

I love the way the spirals send you off into the distance, and how you can see the uniformed inspector just walking into the shot on the right hand side.  This shot, for me, represents not only so much of the imagery of the Metro, but also that I am becoming increasingly aware of my surroundings and have the presence of mind to just stop and take the shot when the opportunity arises.

I would also include one of a series of books featuring 'Phoebe's Walks', to remind me how Moscow is a city that is fantastic when experienced on foot rather than from the back seat of a car.  Phoebe Taplin, who compiled these walks, is an acquaintance of mine who during her time in Moscow not only had the presence of mind to research and write down these works, but provided an invaluable service for many expats by inviting them to join her on her walks, giving many of us the chance to do what we might not have had the nerve - initially at least - to do on our own in what can seem like a vast and hostile city.

I would include a recipe for borsch, for kharcho, and khachapuri  (from this site, here, run by a friend), to remind me of the best of Russian and Georgian cuisine.  And one for vanilla cake, to remind me of  how, in spite of everything, I've managed to find time to bake for my kids.

There would of course need to be a photograph of the traffic - but I'm not going to bore you with that here.

And of course, a recipe for Moscow Mule - preferably one from Strelka, a restaurant I love on Bolotny Island and which has fantastic views of the Moscow River, the Kremlin, Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and the totally over the top statue of Peter the Great.  Why the Moscow Mule recipe?  Because nothing chases away the winter chill like a vodka cocktail with a ginger kick...


vegemitevix 16 July 2012 at 21:18  

Wow that is such an interesting post. It completely changed my preconceptions about Moscow. For some reason I thought it was old fashioned and clunky, not at all like the stylish - dare I say beautiful? - metro. Gorgeous pix and I'm heading over to check out the Borscht recipe and of course (you know me) the Moscow Mule! Vix x

Potty Mummy 16 July 2012 at 21:53  

Vix - you definitely dare say 'beautiful' - because it is. And that isn't one of the swanky ones. Find some images from Mayakovskaya if you really want to see an amazing station... As for the cocktail, I don't think Strelka has the recipe on their website but essentially it's their home-made ginger made (complete with crystallised ginger) with an extra tot of vodka in it. Yum...

nappy valley girl 18 July 2012 at 00:46  

Good post, and you make Moscow sound quite enticing! I think you may actually miss it when you leave....

Zoe Alexander 18 July 2012 at 17:21  

Wow! Moscow is a city I'd like to see but I've never had the opportunity! You certainly paint an intersting picture of the city and I have to say it sounds enticing! Many thanks!

Looking for Blue Sky 19 July 2012 at 23:18  

Wow, I've never been to Russia, it sounds attractive reading this - and interesting that you also focused on food and transport for your memory box :)

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