A colleague whom I have loved working with has been gone almost since school started, and I knew that she was unexpectedly quite sick and would be out for a while.
I've sent her a couple "thinking of you" texts and just kept expecting to see her back at school any day...
Today I learned that she's got cancer, and that she was forced to leave her family here in Moscow to travel VERY FAR AWAY to where she's "officially registered" (where she comes from) so that she can get the medicine and care she needs for treatment.
I have heard so many Russian colleagues complain about the ordeal of getting "registered" to actually be considered residents of Moscow, but this takes it to an entirely new level.
It is VERY hard to do so if you're not originally from here... You can rent in the city, but you can't become an official resident unless you own property (or so two other Muscovites have told me—and even then it's not 100% certain). And there are times when you're required to go back to where you're officially registered—makes me think of Jesus heading to Bethlehem—such as when there is a mandatory census. You also can't vote unless you're in the place where you're officially registered. Considering that most ambitious high school graduates leave small towns to head for the bigger cities with universities and business opportunities, that means disenfranchisement for upwardly mobile educated citizens...
In any case, my friend can't afford to pay full price for cancer treatment, so she has to leave Moscow—where the best hospitals and doctors are located—in order to head "home" for what will likely be inferior medical care. In the process, she also is separated from her husband and child, both who must stay here for work and university—at the time when she needs them the most! And then we, her friends, can't even help out by bringing her meals and taking her to appointments!
I LOVE these special-edition matryoshkas that are coming out as Russia gears up for the Olympics... Going to to have to pick one... Must say that the skier is right now my favorite, especially since my family has tickets for the Men's Alpine Skiing Downhill Finals (Medal Event). All of these dolls are being sold through the official Sochi Olympic site.
Matryoshkas are popping up everywhere as a symbol, too... They're in porcelain, wood and on toys, etc. One of the villages for the athletes (where the downhill skiers will be) is all decorated with Russian kitsch including matryoshkas, too.
On the coffee machine at school given to the teachers by parents: "Break (meaning not allowed to use it) from 8:30 a.m. (20 minutes before 1st period) until end of last class (almost 5 p.m.)". Uh, yeah. Because coffee is a drug we now can't even drink in the teachers' room with the door closed. Not even decaf. This is *not* a religious school... Weird moments in Russia...
Married mom to two girls navigating the unexpected twists and turns of life in this impressive and sometimes daunting city. We're finishing up our ninth year of living here, and the city has changed so much during this time! I taught French and Spanish back in the USA and now I'm the Head of Foreign Languages in a Russian private school. We initially came here for my husband's job—but now he'll be transferring to London in September 2013. My job & volunteer position at the Sochi Olympics—and the girls' schooling—will keep us in Moscow for one more year until we join him there next summer.