APT HUNTING – Part 1
A Tale Of Shoe Removing and Ms *Marina My Estate Agent
Anyone who’s ever gone house hunting or flat hunting knows that the art of the latter is a delicate one between estate agent, tenant and landlord. It’s like a Waltz, can’t speed it up, gotta have a feel of things and when the rhythm is right, when the feet are aligned to the music, magic happens. So in other words, when you find the right place, you know it from the moment you step in it.
Now prior to moving to Moscow, one of my colleagues had kindly helped me find a place, however the landlady was in a major hurry to rent it off and so i had to let it go. This woman (the landlady who ditched me) performed a dance with me, she emailed me, Skyped and even went as far as sending me pictures of her life in the countryside and her son. I thought jackpot, Russians are lovely people, engaging, patient. But hold on to that, she made a 360 degree turn around on me. From nice lady who speaks English wanting to help with where to buy good snow shoes to angry and rude Russian woman who just wanted money. So in the end i had way too much on my plate to deal with a grown up throwing a tantrum, i opted out.
In a way i’m glad that experience happened, for one it gave me an idea of what sort of place i should be looking for and in what price range/location and secondly i would’ve missed apartment hunting in Moscow! This city is truly a tale of two extremes, old and new, rich and poor, rude and nice, smiling and frowning. It’s all in the two extremes, hard to find something just in the middle and it makes life slightly uneasy as I’m so used to the middle ground of the English. I don’t think everything should have a grey area but it can’t be too extremes either.
So I was allocated a wonderful (and I say that a little loosely) lady called *Marina, to help me with the flat hunting. *Marina and I got along very well, she gave me tips, how to take care of myself, where to buy things (when i have money), where to learn Russian, you get the point. She also had a lot of information on everyone she helped. I was slightly worried about what to say in-case the next recruit had to hear about me. So I kept everything light and fluffy and let her talk. She became like my mother. Mostly great, very kind, sometimes pushy, strong willed when needed and a great negotiator. I felt i was in good hands. She really did take me under her wing and became a great pillar for me in the first two weeks in Moscow. 🙂
So here I was the second day in Moscow, I was flat hunting. This is going to be fun.Ahhhhhhhhh NOT! But I’ll tell you know why.
TAKING YOUR SHOES OFF
One of the first things one has to do when entering Russian homes is to take your shoes off. The city is damp, dirty and you don’t want to carry all your crap inside someone else’s house. I’ve read in Japan and other Asian countries (yes and African) the same notion is practiced. I love the idea, it’s respectful. When you do visit someone’s home you may be lucky to be given a pair of slippers or end up walking around in your socks.( you want to make sure your socks match because it really is embarrassing when you find out you have to take off your shoes and your socks don’t match because you were not planning to take them off.) I’ve learned the hard way. If it’s not slippers then they’ll go as far (if you don’t have to buy them yourself) plastic covers like in the hospital. (Note: i guess i understand the idea when you’re flat hunting, who wants to clean up after every showing)
However, having said that, taking off my shoes every half a hour, with my feet hurting from walking (mostly because i just had too many layers on and couldn’t move), because when you wear three pairs of socks (now don’t judge me, we ladies tend to layer even our tights and it’s cold and I’m black, what do you think is going to happen?), shoving your feet in and out of Primy shoes is…well let’s just say a pain.
If you’re reading this line then you’re still awake, thank you, so here’s some moments from my flat hunting in Moscow, before i found the ONE.