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The Help

Like so many big cities Moscow relies heavily on cheap, legal and illegal, migrant workers to do the jobs no one else will do; low paid service jobs like cleaning and sweeping. They uphold any public or private place; offices, apartment blocks, fitness clubs, stores, banks, beauty salons, discos, restaurants, streets, train stations, airports, etc. The invisible people who keep the interior and exterior spaces clean and tidy. In Moscow most of them come from the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. According to recent data from the Federal Migration Service (FMS), about 14 million immigrants arrive in Russia every year. Seventy-seven percent of them come from the former Soviet republics, while an additional 10 percent from the eurozone. More than 2 million illegal immigrants move to Moscow every year, along with 400,000 legal ones.

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And the street sweepers.

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This is the view from my window. The sweepers I meet every morning and evening live here.

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Watch this little film shot and meet reality.

Also check out this interesting photo blog by Denis Sinyakov documenting migrant workers in moscow.

Thank You Guys!

Update

If you missed this, then sorry, it has been so long since my last post. As time has passed I have found it increasingly difficult to pull myself together to do it – even though it takes so little time and effort to do it. I guess my vitamin D level has been low, Moscow bites to the bone as Connie says. So I hope this update is not too long for your taste.

What happened in December? Well, apart from working, I went out with some guys from the Danish Business Chamber, after a “Julefrokost” (Christmas dinner) at the Danish Embassy.

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At work I participated in five so-called Advisory Boards, so I traveled a lot to our shopping centres in the regions.

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I also went to Prague with the Commercial Concept team for whom, I am still acting Manager – ending probably begin March.

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Then I went to Denmark for Christmas and New Year. Watching Disney Classics on the 24th, as I have since childhood.

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This is my vegetarian version of the traditional Danish Christmas dinner, with a “roast” made by my uncle. The rest of the family had pork roast, duck, white and caramelised brown potatoes, gravy, sour condiments, etc.IMG_2385

And New Years Eve, Nanna and I were partying, after the mandatory speech of our Queen.

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And 1st of January the mandatory speech of the our Prime minister.IMG_2431

Back in Moscow after a long holiday, my first weeks have been very busy, and I had been ill in DK with among other ailments a blatter infection, which died hard. I had to get antibiotics here in Moscow. An important realisation for me though was, that it is only now, that I fully embrace living here. It is only now I get a totally warm feeling in my stomach thinking about my Moscow and my Russia. I live here now, my home is here.

Besides work, and after I got well, there has also been room for going out and discover some more of Moscow night life. Here it is an amazing bar hidden in the cellar of this Chinese noodle shop. Go through a black curtain, down a flight of stairs, and wooptie. You wouldn’t know in a million years.

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Amazing isn’t it, Moscow is a discovery, you have to know people or get hints to where to go, because you simply do not find it – as a foreigner. Outside again, my colleague Valeria is tangling a horse, that came across.

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Together with Nikita, who is not a Russian guy, but a fantastic Danish woman, and sadly soon is returning to DK, I went on sightseeing, like on the History museum. But also we also went to Kamchatka, not the far East, but a conceptual, Soviet style retro restaurant, where you can get all the dishes from back then. service was also Soviet style, we waited half an hour to get served.

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And afterwoods next doors to the fancy Vogue Bar, where we had to laugh when the waiter put a fork and knife at my plate for this piece of chocolate.

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Then there is just left to show my Moscow winter landscape. Ice, Ice, Baby.

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Gulag

A bleak view of my beloved Russia’s past I had yesterday when visited the Gulag museum here in Moscow, My biggest learning was that there actually were so many of these Stalin-time Soviet labour camps, and most of them not in Siberia, but scattered around Moscow. According to Wikipedia, in March 1940, there were 53 separate camps and 423 labor colonies in the USSR. The camps were used for petty criminals as well as political prisoners. Approximately 14 million people passed through the Gulag labour camps from 1929 to 1953. A further 6-7 million were deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR, and 4-5 million passed through labour colonies. The total population of the camps varied from 510,307 in 1934 to 1,727,970 in 1953. According to a 1993 study of archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953.

There is a special exhibition running at the museum at the moment, The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia based on a 1997 book by David King about the censoring of photographs in Joseph Stalin‘s Soviet Union through alteration via airbrushing and other techniques. The most famous  example of Stalin retouching is probably this photo and subsequent falsification of Lenin addressing the troops in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, May 5, 1920 – with and without Trotsky and Kamenev on the steps to the right.

 

First Snow

I couldn’t believe my eyes, when I drove into the office parking lot this morning, it was covered with snow! On the 26th of October. No snow on the road, only when I entered the office premises. And me in my ballerinas well prepared for Russian winter attack , trying to avoid wet and cold feet. Maybe I should just have checked my weather app like I always do during summer.

The view from my office…And I have no gloves or hats, since I thought I would bring it, when I come to DK for Christmas. So I had an excuse to go shopping this evening. Excuse the light.

Walk Tall

Russian women are fashionistas. They love to dress up. In fact, you are more likely to be too casual at any event than to be too dressed up. So they love fashion and with fashion follows heels – high heels. Everywhere, at any occasion, in rain and snow, Russian women wear high heels. I am impressed. Well, they rarely look like the boot below here, that’s just for fun, but see the examples further down this page. Photos, I sneaked taking pretending to check my phone 🙂

Ukraina, one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters

I went to a business meeting Friday afternoon organized by the Danish Business Club, where I have become a member.  The topic was “Successful Service Orientation in Russia – case Hotel Ukraina“. This 5-star hotel is one of “Stalin’s Seven Sisters“, a group of Moscow skyscrapers designed in the Stalinist style and built from 1947 to 1953. Ukraina is the second tallest of the “sisters” (198 meters, 34 levels) and more than 500 hotel rooms. It was the tallest hotel in the world from the time of its construction until 1975.

The main speaker was  the Training and Development Manager of Hotel Ukraina, Radisson Group. A woman and Danish. This old hotel has recently been restored, refurbished and now looks amazing!

A Night on the Town

I have had a visit from Paul, who is a previous colleague, who came to Moscow to hold some workshops. So, Olga and I took him out on a night on the town. First, we went to this super nice, trendy restaurant and club, Reka, where you have view of the Moskva river. Here we had good food and a lot of whine. I am sorry if some of the photos of this blog entry are a bit blurry or stirred, but I might have been a little stirred myself, when I took them.

Then we went on to a club called Gypsy around the corner, where the DJ did all he could to keep us warm on the partly open air, rooftop dance floor. Even a little rain did not stop the crowd from rocking to the tunes.