Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The mirror crack'd...

My Russian course continues.  Getting there in time for the 10am start each day is mostly straightforward, but occasionally I find myself too late to catch the mashrutka (local minibus shuttle) that I was aiming for after dropping the boys at school, and so need to wait at the roadside until the next one appears.  This is fine - I usually have plenty of time - and is also a usefully humbling experience as other parents from the school whiz past me in their newly polished, invariably black tinted window'd 4x4's, checking emails or chatting on their iPhones as they sit in the back seat whilst their driver takes the strain of the morning Moscow traffic.

I'm not jealous, surprisingly.  I could be in my own car (slightly more beaten up perhaps, and certainly less polished, but without the added (in)convenience of a driver to pay / deal with / negotiate with / have sitting in the driveway burning petrol to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer) if I chose, but so far in doing this course I have decided it's infinitely preferable to speed along in the bus lane (in the mashrutka) than it is to deal with the stress of the morning jam and finding somewhere to park myself.

That's why, this morning, I was waiting for the minibus when a Russian neighbour pulled up and very kindly offered me a lift.  I hadn't seen her for a while, so was glad to have the chance to catch up, although I must admit I did wonder if I had made the right choice when, after I climbed into the car, she warned me that would be doing her hair and make up on the journey.

All very well - except, she drives herself.

This however is clearly something she does often as she was able to negotiate the jam-packed junction where 6 lanes become two, complete her morning beauty routine (including curling her hair with a pair of heated tongues), and hold a lively conversation with me, all without breaking her metaphorical stride.

I did find myself offering to hold her handbag at one point so that she didn't have to reach onto the floor of the back seat to reach the mascara and lipstick inside it, but I've lived in Moscow with it's hellish traffic and interesting driving habits for nearly 4 years now, so that wasn't what disconcerted me about this journey.

No, what disconcerted me was when she asked me if I had any work done.  On my face.

(My answer was that no, I haven't, and don't plan to right now but as with so many things in life, I would never say 'never'.  Ask me again in 5 years, and who knows?)

This conversation in itself is not unusual here - lots of women have botox, fillers and such like - but rather the subtext.  As I jumped out at the cross roads of a busy junction to walk the last few meters to the school where I'm having Russian lessons, I was left asking myself the following: was she asking because she wanted to know if I had had work done on my own face?  If so, was she she looking for recommendations?

Or, was she asking because she was trying - not so subtly - to suggest that I should think about it for myself?


  1. Don't overthink it. You'll drive yourself nuts. Oh and I once had a friend who would drive to work (on the freeway) doing her nails. There was once an article in Dallas (where I lived at the time) of what women were stopped for while driving - the winner by a mile was the woman who was driving while attempting to put on a pair of tights.

  2. Or was she just testing your vocabulary, knowing that you were on your way to your class? Did you know the Russian for "botox", "wrinkles", "second mortgage", etc etc?

  3. I'm positive it was a compliment - she probably wanted to know who you went to for such a natural look! ; ) If it's anything like Korea, discussions about botox/fillers/surgery/lasers and everything else are completely run of the mill anyway.

  4. I'm with Ms Caroline - she must have been admiring your glowing complexion. You should tell her it's natural English rose.

  5. Potty, you mean you did not quip about this being your 'other face', because the everyday one was in for repairs?
    Or something subtle like that.
    More importantly, did you ask her if she had had any work done? Now *that* might have been interesting!

    LCM x

  6. EPM, I would say 'only in America', but since it could just as well happen here...

    Iota; you're not suggesting we had this conversation in Russian, are you? (*laughs hysterically*)

    MsC - that's the choice I'm going with, anyway!

    NVG, 'natural English rose that could perhaps do with being taken inside out of the wind and rain', perhaps.

    LCM, what do you take me for? Of COURSE I asked her. She said not - but that she was thinking of vitamin injections (whatever on earth they are). I suspect very expensive facials, however...

  7. I always do my nails in the car. Thanks to the South Circular, I would probably have time to do my hair too, though I might draw the line at the tongs! Hilarious! And no, she definitely didn't mean you needed work done, are you kidding?

  8. So do you think SHE has had any work done??? Time to check furtively behind her ears (or is that for something else?)

    Impressed at the array of beautification she manages in the car, the ride on my train journey is so bumpy these days I've had to avoid putting on any make up (or at least that is my story and I'm sticking to it)


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