Unless you own a car, a tiring but nonetheless interesting and impressive 40 minute journey on the metro is what one has to sacrifice in order to enjoy the magnificent sights of the Moscow International Business Centre; the IBC, or Moscow City as it is often abbreviated to and called, is renowned for holding Europe’s tallest skyscraper, the 75-story Mercury City Tower. Completed back in 2013, its main purpose is to offer commercial offices and residential condos. The 340-metre building is just a small part of the large array of buildings and skyscrapers, all designed by English and American architects, all concentrated in a rather tight space between the Vistavochnaya and Delovoy Tsentr metro stations.
Staring gawkily at the beautiful, modern metro station, I have arrived at my destination. The Delovoy Tsentr literally translates as the “Business Centre”. It sure is; crowds of people rushing to and fro, raising an utterly harsh and brutal din. For a minute or so, you catch a moment of complete silence as the trains dispatch, leaving the platform as bare and noiseless as it once used to be right before the opening day. I caught this moment; wandering about the beautiful, minimal and luxurious glass platform, I caught the ethereal, everlasting moment. A tremendous rush of adrenaline pumping through my heart, listening to music, I felt majestic and powerful, equipped with my camera and a few lenses in my rucksack. I grandly made my last step on the escalator and took leave, rising into the busy, rough realities of the modern world.
Of all the places in the world, there were works going on right here, right now, next to the mighty, magnificent creation of man, standing tall and free! Hammer-beating, vociferous drilling noises cutting through the cacophony of the nearby tinny radio and the solemn chatter of the crowd. Calamity!
The place was far from ready, yet the impatience of ruling magnates urged them to make some remarkable changes, for the public to be able to enjoy the IBC before it was officially complete; covering up the mortifying dust and potholes with planks and wooden boards to make a boardwalk.
The crowd seemed happy. Everyone was smiling, enjoying the warm August evening, desperately trying to ignore the loud noise of the works. I noticed that the gastarbeiters, or the working men, mainly consisted of Tajiks and men from the CIS, a fast-growing tendency in Moscow and other eastern megacities – Russian labourers are not that easy to find working about in the streets or standing next to the petrol station, ready to fill up your tank at your command anymore. It’s as if they vanished and have been replaced by immigrants from neighbouring countries. And they rarely speak Russian among themselves. If you ask me, it is very irritating, and their accent is irritating. But I found them to be much more sympathetic and compassionate when compared to the typical Russian businessman, the cold-hearted billionaire, the egotistic oligarch who doesn’t give a damn about the law or the simple people. Oh, what prejudice!
Wandering about the megacity, the Third Rome, the centre of Russian civilization, I have to confess that it is very hard to become fully acquainted and used to the environment; the slang, the various jokes that you always miss out on as a result of living most of your life abroad. Even films, books and music – you can never quite remember the name of the film that you watched yesterday, or rather can’t translate it into your native language for your friends to understand, and have to go through the painstakingly difficult process of re-enacting the final scene to give an idea what it is about, so your friends might deduct the name of that film, or book, or song, all of which you decided to watch in its original form, in English. However, this problem goes away very soon, as a matter of fact. Just being able to spend a couple of months in that environment, you begin to use more Russian words, you grow a tendency to watch and read in Russian. But you can never completely stop talking in that corrupted, so-called Runglish, a macaronic mix of Russian and English, which is quite popular in America and has been listed as one of NASA’s on-board languages.
The inevitable strikes back disastrously when one is at his most peaceful, enjoying the rural beauties of Russia and conversing with friends and family. It grows on you, a kind of nostalgic feeling of loss, so homesick and lonesome. But year by year, that feeling of utter detachment goes away faster, easier. Or rather, it subsides. I can never relinquish myself from the subtle, yet quite constant thoughts of home.
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