||Expat living, there ain’t nuttin like it! Now that I
am willing to spend most of my paycheck on housing, I am living like a
king. I am here, chilling in my new apartment, eating Cheez Balls,
watching the neighbourhood on closed circuit TV, listening to the hip
freshest tunes, enjoying life.
I am literally chilling in my new apartment. At 18-20C,
(65-70F) it is chilly inside, of course not like the -15C street, but
still not 75F. The landlord cannot fix the heat right now because
Moscow has a central heating system for the entire city. The pinicale of
state planning brought us an entire city on the same hot water and
heating system. There are no thermostats in Russia, you get
whatcha get because a central plant pumps the steam to all the buildings
in a given area, regardless if you want it or not.
Usually the city goes through a cold spell in the fall where everyone
is freezing because the heat isn’t on yet. Then, in spring, the reverse
happens, with a warm spell where the heat is still on. In some
apartments, usually in the northern cities, like St Peterburg, people
have to open their windows in the dead of winter because the heat is on
so strongly. That, unfortunately, is not the case with my
Now, if I am going to be fat and happy in my place, I have to add a
bit of Americana, that is where the cheez balls come into play. You
can find real Planters Cheez Balls in random kiosks here, like the one
at the end of my street. I felt there was no better way to relax,
expat style, than with pure American junk food.
Yes, I have closed circuit TV. I know it sounds strange, but
here it is more practical that luxurious. I am living a bit above
the norm, and here, as anywhere, there are people who would want what I
have. The TV is fun to watch. One camera shows the main door
to the building, the other shows the entrance to my apartment. Both
are in black & white, but it adds to the view. I can see most
of the block with the main camera, and I enjoy watching the comings and
goings of my neighbours. The camera in my keyhole is kinda boring.
The scene doesn’t change.
One of the things that Arthur (my housemate) and I bargained for in
our lease was a new stereo system. Now I have a hip Moscow station
on that plays a wide mix of music. Unlike America, where each station
has a specific format, country, rock, classical, etc, each station in
Russia plays many different kinds of music. There were only three
radio stations in Russia for a long time, so they had to be diverse in
Now there are so many in Moscow, that specific formats are starting
to emerge. I have the radio set to one of the last, non-formatted
stations, so I might hear jazz, blues, Russian folk, African, or Arabic
music over the course of a week. If I get tired of the radio,
there is always a CD from the CD market here. All the newest
releases, some even before the states, for only $3 a pop. Match
that Tower records!
Life is good… today.