Blog Moscow

The bus dropped me to the hotel and since it was quite late, I decided to walk into the pub/nightclub for a quick bite. It was a long day and I was bushed. The club was busy for a week night. The women dressed for the night, faces painted, hair blow dried, sporting designerwear straight out of Paris or Milan. I looked underdressed in my crumpled shorts and T with a hoodie and mary janes. I decided to focus on the menu, while finding a place at the bar.

I placed my order and my gaze wandered across the room and rested on an exceptionally young, beautiful girl sitting on the stool next to me. She looked like a Dresden doll, pale skin, fragile bone structure, small perky nose, brightly painted red lips and shimmering burgundy dress. She looked a bit too over made up and I thought, oh, she’s ‘that kind of a woman’.

She was a local. Probably waiting for someone. The bartender seemed to ignore her request for an order, the maitre d’ seemed brusque. She seemed like a regular who the club staff wasn’t too happy to see.She caught me looking at her and I smiled to cover the awkwardness of being caught this way.

We said hello to each other and got chatting. To make conversation, I asked, “So, how has the USSR dissolution affected life in the country for youngsters like you?” She animatedly spoke about sanctions being lifted, the entry of coveted American and other Western brands that people craved for, are now available in Moscow. Consumerism is snaking its head higher. However, the economy has taken a hit. Healthcare is expensive and no longer provided in the manner it did, in the earlier regime. Unemployment is high. Due to lack of economic opportunities in the country, her older sister and cousins went overseas but her family never heard from them in 5 years.

She was studying aeronautical engineering herself and has dreams of migrating to the USA. She works as a prostitute to pay for her education because regular jobs won’t help her with the funds required to migrate.

I enquired, “Do your parents know?” She responded pragmatically, “I have told them I’m a waitress in the club but they are aware of what I do. But they pretend to believe me and I pretend to let them believe so. They are ageing and are not working so who will support me and the family?”

I looked at her in amazement – filled with respect and understanding. I felt sheepish at the thoughts that had swirled around my head.

A few minutes later, a Japanese man in his 50s walked towards us and they spoke in whispers. She turned to me gave me a hug, “Dasvidaniya!” and smiled away into the night.

This was more than 5 years ago. I remember her once in a while and hope she is able to live her dream.

The incident taught me something, too.

Treat people with kindness.

Because every face is a story that could use a little more love.

Love and light!

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