Four city slicker wankers were stood, cawing and joking around a strikingly beautiful woman in a business dress. The loud one was speaking English - I think he was Dutch - and had slicked back hair and glasses. The others were Russians, but weren't endowed with the same looks. Some receding hairlines and badly toothed smiles. They either cackled like idiots at every word that glamorous woman said or threw cocky eyebrows around as they no doubt droned on about how much money they were able to fill their vacuous little lives with. Maybe the woman loved it. Maybe she was just entertaining these suits and black coats until she could get rid of them.
I sat, reading my book, waiting for my class. It was 8:30 in the morning. Dirty shoes, jeans, grey t-shirt, black cardigan, no sign of monetary value. But I felt better than them. I didn't need to prove myself with designer labels and hours of grooming.
'Hello, do you speak Russian?' said a blonde woman who had invisibly sidled up next to me
It was my student's co-worker
'Ruslan can't come today. He's busy and didn't have your number'
Shit. It took me 40mins to get there. Back home I go. Leaving my seat, I handed out a haughty face, trying to look important as I headed back to the metro. The yuppies had won this one.
* * * *
My weeks have slid into an intolerable routine - here you go Laura - with classes spread out at horrid times. Business English teachers are the working world's bitches. We work before everyone else, often do nothing in the days - apart from sporadic private classes, and then work again after everyone has finished. Four of my mornings see me up and around before Moscow has fully bothered. At least the metro is marginally quieter then.
I suffer a weird sort of cabin fever. A self-imposed madness. I could go out, but to do what? with whom? and in this weather? March has been a bit underwhelming - still flirting with minus numbers and with weather more erratic than anywhere I've known. Today - the yuppie depreciation day - I had snow, wind, sun, heat and freezing cold below zero temperatures in the space of a few minutes. It's getting tiresome. I have been in a big coat since mid-October. The snow that still lingers on grass and buildings is dirty. A browning, gritty mess which, as it melts, is slowly revealing the five months of buried dog turds and yellowed urine strata. Moscow's not looking pretty at the moment.
My friends, with normal jobs, work in the week, so I am left to my own devices. It's quite a lonely existence without a 'staff room'. Lots of hours and days are spent in my room. Entombed. Sure, I could go out, but I've seen so much already that it's hard to find new things to do. Tourism is reliant on the weather and I refuse to see 'sights' when it's grey and squally. Museums are more fun with a friend. So, I go crazy. I watch films, I read, I write, I snooze, I dream about Spain and I skype people. Yesterday I spent the whole day drooling at the memory of, and the hopeful return to, Segovia. That's how bad it's got.
It's not all doom and gloom though. I still love the city, in many respects. And it still yields surprises. The other day Dmitry took me, along with his girlfriend, to an apartment building in the west of the city, just off the centre.
'We'll go to the roof' he said nonchalantly 'If the police catch us, it could be a problem...'
Code for 'it's illegal'
'Oh, and when we go in, don't smile'
We walked in to the swish entrance hall, glumly passed the concierge who greeted us, blagged the floor we were going to and entered the lift. Dmitry pressed the number 35.
On the 35th floor we climbed the fire escape stairs up to the 37th floor.
'Thank God there are no cameras'
On the 37th floor we left the confines of the interior and found a little door with a padlock, long since broken and went outside, up an old iron staircase, through a gap in a plastic roof and into the fresh air. The view was outstanding, and made more alluring by its illegality. All around were the lights of the city; the skyscrapers and roads and cars and flats. It was beautiful. Windy and freezing, but beautiful.
That was something not in the guidebook.