Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kheppi Khelloween

...and now you know the Russian pronunciation for "Happy Halloween"! Some days, I completely forget I'm in Russia.  I speak English all day, and I go to/from work and meeting my friends without anything to remind me I live in Moscow.  On other days, however, I'm sharply reminded of where I am.  Halloween was one of these days, as were the several after leading up to today.

As I exited the metro at Mayakovskaya to walk to work on Halloween, I immediately noticed that I would need to take a different route.  The babushki (I taught you this word twice already. If you don't remember, you have no one to blame but yourself) selling gloves/socks/magazines/you-name-it had been replaced by metal barricades and more police than I have ever seen in one place.  Despite REALLY wanting to ask one of them what was going on, I reminded myself that they are not my friends. I had to keep reminding myself of this as I fought the urge to pet the police dogs, but it became easier when I noticed some of them wearing muzzles.  Yikes.  After figuring out how to get around the barricades, I saw that all of the Mercedeses, BMWs, Audis, Lexuses, and Range Rovers that normally line the street leading up to the EF building had disappeared as well and been replaced with big trucks and buses....probably explaining how every cop in Moscow got to Mayakovskaya.  There was a big traffic jam in front of our building, and as I wove through it, someone started blaring an instrumental version of a Cheburashka song (for those of you unfamiliar with this, Cheburashka is an old Soviet cartoon that is still popular.  I'll post a youtube video below to help you out here...don't say I never did anything for you!)  As I stood in front of EF with a face-splitting grin on, the usually grumpy security guard walked out, laughed saying "Great music, eh?", and then held the door open as I entered.  The only average thing about my morning was that it snowed, like every other day.  At work, we all dressed up (I was Sherlock Holmes. Chien drew a mustache on my face, Vanessa lent me a magnifying glass and bow tie, and Nicole lent me a checkered jacket. I'll try to post pictures soon) and had fun classes...again, a day out of the ordinary.

At this point, many of you are probably wondering what the whole police-and-barricades situation was all about. On the 31st day of each month, protesters gather in the square to support the right of peaceful assembly in Russia.  The Russian government is none too happy about this, and the result is a swarm of cops.

We also have a holiday this week: Day of Russia.  This means that I get Saturday and Monday off, in addition to my usual Sunday.  In short, a gift from Russia to workers (Edit: it has been pointed out by a friend that the holiday is actually Unity Day , click on that link to learn more. Still a gift thanks to the glorious days off).  This coincided with a teachers' party at work on Friday, where we ate too many cookies, drank cocktails, played Mafia, completed a team-building exercise, and were finally told (officially) where our new school location will be (answer:Starbucks where we play Mafia on Thursdays.  Hello daily coffee fix, goodbye salary).  I spent my Saturday off reading in bed, playing board games with Ulianna and Chien, and then going to English Social Club to meet friends at Hudson Bar (where they had special election day shots and cocktails...I didn't try any, but it was a cute idea) before going to a bar called Casa Agave, where we celebrated Day of the Dead by eating Mexican food and dancing salsa. Lyuba, Gleb and I literally ran to the metro to avoid being stranded, and I thought about how I never expected to sit in a Moscow bar listening to salsa and reggaeton, but there it was. Today (which is Sunday) I left the house only for groceries and plan on spending the rest of the day inside, but tomorrow should be another fun, relaxing day before getting back to work.  What did you guys do for Halloween?!

The little fuzzy thing is Cheburashka.  He is not a boy but also not an animal.  Hope that helps clear things up a little.

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