Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A tale of two cities – London and Moscow

We’ve been here two days now, and we’ve met high and low and some of the sandwiched in the middle, so I hope we can be forgiven some first impressions?
Do Muscovites love Moscow?
Do Londoners love London?
I think Londoners are in love with London.
I think Muscovites feel as if they are living with an irascible bear. From a distance it is alluring, enticing, soft and cuddly. But get up too close and it will swipe a paw and knock off your head.
They feel a certain pride in their guts and nerve – not many people are steely enough to live in a bear pit. They see us Londoners as soft and spoilt, are skin cuts easily and we bruise at the slightest bump – we are not hard and we probably can’t take care of ourselves in a fight.
Here, in Moscow, I heard the word «crisis» a lot.
Now we have the same crisis in London, the great crisis of capitalism and finance and the resulting unemployment, but you don’t hear the word used – recession is about as hard as it gets.
Crisis is a tough, hard, uncompromising word.
I think it’s the right word.
Maybe that’s an important difference.
Here, they tell it like it is and they don’t mind if it hurts.
If you chop down a forest, goes the Russian proverb, chips will fly.
Here, you have to say what you think and everyone knows the words that hurt and those that heal.
We blend them to a puree so that they can’t be separated.
London is a pretty and gracious city – in parts.
Moscow is imposing, monumental and its manners are brusque.
The blood runs cold for much of the time but when it heats up, it gets very hot, a dispute is a fight, and a party is a shouting and jumping occasion for banging the table and shouting to be heard.

Like most things in life, from religion to sex, it’s a matter of taste.
Since we love both places, we can only conclude that we are a couple of broad minded lost souls!

Unless otherwise stated all photographs by Elena Bruce

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