From the editor:
Dear readers of Moskvaer, we’re happy to announce the new bi-weekly column “Loving My City” by our contributor Elizabeth, who grew up in Bangladesh, traveled and worked through 6 countries in Asia and found her way to Moscow earlier this year. This is about her adventures in living, loving and growing as an individual who is both a local and an outsider to Moscow. And so it begins…
When I was 5 years old, my mother put me on a flight to Moscow for the summer holidays. I recall always going together with her and my brother but this particular year she sent me packing, alone.
And she, true to her motherly loving and all-knowing form, raked through all passenger information and found the person who would be sitting next to me.
“Here, YOU take care of her till you land”, mom said as she passed on my hand into his. He was shocked, surprised and almost didn’t know what to do but in the spirit of general human kindness, seemed resolved to take care of me till the end of the flight. We took our seats in the plane. I, in all of my 5 year old wisdom, knew what I had to do- bags hoisted, cabinet locked, seat belt tightened, wait for the candy, fall asleep.
Everything was going according to plan.
Having settled myself in place, I remember looking toward my left and seeing this poor man struggling with his seat belt, so I helped. A few minutes later he managed to muster a meek “thank you”. But of course I thought! Why wouldn’t I help when I’m in such close proximity and believe that the more you give, the more you’ll get.
As the plane started gearing it’s engines, having swallowed the delicious apple flavored candy that used to be a freebie in the planes of yester-years, I started cozying myself up for sleep when I heard a noise. Something uncomfortable, something that comes from the innards of someone who is about to regurgitate their lunch and without a second thought, I pull out the barf bag that’s placed in the seat in front of me, open it up in one fell swoop and proper it right under the man’s mouth as the inevitable ensues…
10 minutes later as I sat in my seat, recoiled in semi-discomfort, semi-pride of being such an “adult”.
6 months ago, as my plane was landing in Domodedovo, all I could think about was how I’ve come such a long way from this episode, Russian chocolate (Masha i Medvedi) “sel’d pod shuboii” (grandma’s welcome dish) and snow. So much snow I could drown all of the past couple of years of missed connections, failed projects and lessons in not trusting humanity too much – from the first snow I experienced when I was 8 years old with my cousin and how I convinced him we should make snow angels in the first 2 cm of snow that fell on the ground, to the snow I was looking at through my window, layers upon layers of condensed water, forming miraculous shapes and designs as it lay on the ground, untouched.
Today, I’m a a growing adult, that’s come face to face with the cold, mirrored reality of Moscow and it’s ways – as much as I want to pull out the barf bag and help someone next to me, I realize that sometimes it’s best to let people deal with their own business, in as much as I want to be left alone dealing with mine. And although years have passed since the time I needed someone to look after me as I boarded a plane to a foreign land, I am now slowly settling into a city which smiles only in the summer and celebrates the dark aspects of your soul-
“But you know, there are always some hidden moral and spiritual causes”, the family doctor allowed himself to put in.
And although I am not a Tolstoy character, I can appreciate the feeling.
Moscow – you’re enchanting. I don’t understand you. But I love you.