Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Greetings from Moscow

This won't be a terribly long post, but I wanted to say hello to everyone back home and pass on a few details from the last three days. Jet lag is still an issue. We're 8 hours ahead over here and my body refuses to adjust to the new time. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that we're far enough north that at this time of year it is only dark for about 4 1/2 - 5 hours. It's still full light now and it is 10:00pm Moscow time.

We've seen Dilshor (soon to be Dylan Joseph) twice now. The first day was a brief, supervised visit. Today we spent a bit of quality time alone with him. He really started to open up today as we played with him indoors. There have been so many official things to take care of, and traffic is so awful here, that those two visits are the extent of our interaction. That said I have a good feeling about him. He's very alert and inquisitive. He crawls well and shows a desire to be up on his feet. If you hold him in the standing position, he really tries to not go back down to his knees. We'll see him again tomorrow morning and I'm sure even more new traits will come out.

Here are some observations:
- Despite the best efforts of politicians, our two cultures are growing more and more alike. In it's way it inspires hope in me. The western influence in Moscow is huge. The change has even caught up with the older folks, but clearly the youth are driving it. As we waited for examination by one of the 8 (not a typo) doctors we had to see today (more on that later), I observed an older woman, really the stereotype of a strong, stout Russian woman in plain sensible clothing, pull a kerchief from her large purse and unroll it only to reveal...a cell phone! The internet is everywhere as well. Currently one company, Goldspot, seems to dominate the Wi-fi market, but I would not be surprised to see competition come. There are hot spots covering most of the city. There are billboards for western goods everywhere. There are car dealerships everywhere (not only Lada, but Audi, Mistubishi, Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, etc...) I even saw a Chevy dealer. At one point, the view of the Kremlin was blocked by a monstrous wall on which was painted an ad for Cartier. Did I mention the traffic?

- The worst part of being away, by far, is not seeing Alexandra. Missing her, combined with the sleepless nights, makes the nighttime seem interminable. I truly feel like we've been here more than 3 days. It's not as bad while we're doing things, but when there is idle time, it's really hard.

-Oh yes. Moscow is really expensive, especially the hotels, so after the first night at the Marriott Renaissance, we moved into an apartment. I'm glad we did so for more than just reasons of money. We've had to go out on the streets on our own and do things. It's still an intimidating city, but less so to me now. Other than the obvious architectural and civil engineering differences, it does remind me of NYC. The billboards and neon add to that.

-Note to Austin: It's a Windows world over here. Better tell Steve jobs to get an Apple store in Moscow quick. I've only seen one person walking with an iPod.

"Driving on New Arbot Street"