This is a special entry, ...a very special entry.  It is a report on my first trip to the Motherland, ...sometimes, often actually, I feel it is my Motherland.  Please read, if you want, and know that I am a very fortunate person, ...I too, am very special!
 
The 5 Best Days of My Life

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 I just wanted to again thank the people at (game)land for giving the best time of my life!  It is all I think about all day, everyday, ...and I am sure I will spend much more time in the years to come remembering this adventure.  Of course, it will not be my only trip to Moscow, but this will always be the best!

The picture above shows only some of the great magazines (game)land publishes.

(game)land web page

Next year I expect to travel in the corporate jet, yes?  ... ;)

Sorry if I offended anyone.  I tried to warn you that this Russian Report was from only five days of experience visiting only one city in a vast country.  I know I got many things wrong or poorly exaggerated.  I did not mean to offend.

Offending, ...the "details" of the reporting, I also warned about that.  I wanted to write everything.  My mother reads this page (Hi, Mom!) and so did my Dad before he died.  I do not consider any of this offending ;)  If I REALLY wanted to offend you with details, I would have posted pictures of the Naked Levelord in the banya!

 

Monday, April 11, 2005

My Trip to Russia

Well, it's been almost a week since I returned to Dallas, and I'm still jet lagged!  What a trip, and what a rush!  I'm just now posting an update, but as you will see, there was much to write about.

General Notes

The following are my impressions of the Russians and the Motherland.  Well, of the Moscovites and Moscow, at least.  I’m not sure what is Russian, and what is particular to Moscow.  As a Texan, I might be offended by a foreigner’s presumptuous comments about all Americans after only seeing New York City.  I do not mean to offend!

It's pretty obvious I like Russia.  I fucking love Russia!  My feelings for Russia are strangely similar to the way I feel when I fall in love with a woman.  The attraction is very obvious to me, yet it is very hard to describe to someone else.  Russia, …her appearance and manners, her customs and history, the way she talks and cooks, and everything she does is so pleasing and fascinating to me.

Before I made this trip, I expected to be impressed, but I also kept warning myself that it probably won’t be as good as I was anticipating.  I was wrong, …I fell even deeper in love!

First, I can say that this trip was the best five days of my life, …no hesitation and no exaggeration.  I know a lot of this will sound soupy and silly.  I'll probably re-read it later and be embarrassed like a teenage boy re-reading his puppy love letters, but I will tell you that it is wonderful to find someplace you can love and attach yourself.  I love my home, no doubt, but it is nice to also have Russia.

This passion is not a fleeting flash, either.  I have felt this way for many years, …almost a decade, actually.  Add to this love affair, my friends in Moscow treated me like a king while I was there!

(game)land is the greatest publishing house in Russia, with VESTNIK being a game-related magazine.  Anatoly is in charge of International PR, Yury is the Publisher of the Gaming Division, and Dmitri owns the company.

These guys, moyee bratya, paid for everything, and catered to my every need!  From the best suite at the Cosmos Hotel, to the finest food and fanciest parties, and the cab fares and pirated software, ...the dachas and zakuska, ...the vodochka, …and Alisa.

Wow, Alisa! ...a "love" affair within a love affair!  I'm so in love with Russia, and then there was you within her, or me within, or...

...sorry, ...wandered off there.

Okay, ...so, I was treated like a king.  I didn't want for anything, and I received nothing but the very best of everything!  Anatoly, Yury, and Dmitri, …you guys fucking rule!  Whenever you find yourself in Texas, please know that my house is your house, and you, too, will not want for anything.

Treated Like a King, ...Neigh! ...a Lord!

I think this trip was destined for me by some powerful deities.  Everything was perfect, in every way possible.  Even down to the weather and catching that cold you often get when traveling to foreign lands.

The weather?  I love cold and snow.  Before I left for Russia, Anatoly told me that it was still very cold in Moscow and there was still snow on the ground.  He said that I should pack a good coat and heavy clothing, ...a dear friend of mine, and he knows so little about me ;)

He complained about the late arrival of Spring.  I made a joke that I had placed an order for such weather during my vacation in Moscow.  He replied “We have had enough cold and snow, thank you!”, but I told him I had asked for one more week before Spring set in.

…and this is exactly what happened!  A very late Winter that had snow falling in April.  The weather was cold and gray while I was there, ...but on the exact day I left? ...the temperature went from 1C to 14C, ...the sun came out, ...and the snow started melting.  It seemed perfectly timed just for me.

Also, I did catch that cold, but not until the very last day as Anatoly and I were taking the taxi to the airport.  The germs were held at bay, by the powers that be (probably the vodka), until it was okay to relinquish control ;)

The Russian People

I found the Russians to be very warm people.  I knew this before going to Moscow, but I was pleasantly surprised to find they are even more gracious and generous than I had estimated.  There is a lot of body contact and touching.  There are many hugs and kisses (cheek-to-cheek) passed between them, even amongst males.  This behavior seemed to almost replace our customary handshaking.

They will say “I love you!” and often use the word “dear” if you are a close friend.  Again, even between male friends.  At first I thought this may be just a slant due to the translation from Russian to English, but they in fact mean the same as we do when saying these things.  It made me wonder we why always stop at the “I like you.” level over here.

The Russians are frequent gift givers, and I came to learn that gift giving is very important.  It's more of an insult to the person that does not provide a gift than it is to the person that was denied a gift.  Even after so many years of being friends, Anatoly and Yury insist upon bringing me something to E3 each year.

They almost always have a lighter ready to ignite each other’s cigarettes.  Strangely, however, they say nothing after someone sneezes.  When I think about it though, wishing good health or god’s blessing after the sneeze seems a bit late to do any good ;)

Similar to many Europeans, they get very close to you when they talk, and this always reminds me of how big our American psychological bubble is.  I find it cool when I quickly notice how soon my personal bubble pops after only a few conversions have passed, …barring the occasional bad breath, of course ;)

The Russian Language

The Russian language is THE most beautiful in the world.  It is the most romantic, too.  You can have your Latin “romance” languages, …if even a dead, rotting cow carcass speaks Russian to me, I fall in love.  Strangely, I find that when a woman speaks Russian, it is very feminine.  When a man speaks it, though, it is very masculine.

You learn the most about your language and culture by studying other languages and cultures.  Russian is a relatively phonetic language, but they do alter actual pronunciations often.  For instance, unless the letter “o” is within an accented syllable, it sounds more like an “a”.  “Spasibo” (thank you) is pronounced “spasiba”.

At first I thought that was weird.  Then I remembered that we do the same thing many times.  The hotel’s name where I'm staying?  …The Cosmos.  That first “o” sounds more like an “a” in English.  Same for the word “model”, and even in Texas we often say “jalapenas” instead of “jalapenos”.  I didn’t realize this until I went to Moscow.

I Think I May Be Russian, at Least in My Heart

Perhaps it is because I was looking for such things, but I found many, many commonalities with, and strange coincidences between, Russia and myself.  There were all the big things like the food and women and, of course, vodka.  There were also many little things, too, though.  For instance, I have always loved birch and pine trees, of which we had in Connecticut where I grew up.  The Russian forests are nothing but birch and pine.

At home, I sleep on a bed that amounts to nothing more than a mattress (a very firm mattress) resting on a flat board (no box springs) at about a half-meter height above the floor.  This is exactly the fashion of beds in Russia, even at a classy hotel like the Cosmos where you would normally expect super-soft, multiple-layered bedding.

I found so many shared favorites, and I felt so at home, that a few times Anatoly and Yury caught me saying “home” when I was actually referring to Russia (not simply a loose reference to the hotel).  I honestly did not realize this until they mentioned it to me.  It was weird, and I’m convinced it is my gene pool talking to me.

Everything is Better in Russia

Again, this is probably just me, but everything is better in Russia!  Even the “American” coffee which is more like our espresso.  It is deep in color and rich in taste.  There is a thin froth on the top from the oils of the coffee beans.  American coffee?  …I don’t think so, comrades, this has taste and body ;)

The women are definitely more beautiful!  Russian women, for me, are the most beautiful in the world.  Their facial structure is perfect, and I fell in love-at-first-sight so many times!  I noticed two basic shapes.  One hints at a northern origin (“Russ” means “Viking”, btw) and is similar to Scandinavian features.  The other is Slavic in nature, and I believe comes from the south.  Wherever, Russian faces drive me crazy!

Their bodies? …their bodies are firm and fit, and perfectly proportioned.  Their skin is smooth and soft, and the women have this certain glow and radiance about them, …and there is NO FUCKING SILICONE!  …just naturally-sized and well-shaped breasts.  God I hate augmentation!

Their food, at least what I was treated to, tastes better.  All of the things I ate were the very best I have ever eaten.  I also think the Russians eat very healthy food.  You wouldn’t think so to look at it – lots of fatty meats and heavy creams and high carbohydrates and beer, but almost all of the people are very thin and seemingly fit.  I noticed that my piss was that bright, colorful yellow that I usually only get when I take vitamin supplements at home.

One word I may use often that needs description, …”zakuska”.

Zakuska is a type of food, …sort of like traditional Russian hors d’oeuvres.  It usually consists of noshes like pickles and pickled tomatoes and onions, and salted herring and sprats, and dark rye breads, and sunflower oil, …and, well, actually, the definition I would always get when I asked is that zakuska is anything you eat while drinking vodka.

I did notice that most zakuskas were either salty (to induce more vodka drinking), or very absorbent (to soak up more vodka), or stomach-lining oils (to help the vodka pass with less distress).  If you have never tried Russian sunflower oil, you are missing what I call Liquid Gold.  I have been buying it at a local Russian deli for a year now.  It is described as aromatic and it has a deep and rich smell of sunflower seeds.  I have three one-liter bottles in my refrigerator and my margarine sits lonely and rotting from neglect.

You’ll also see the word “vodochka”.  This is a familial variation of “vodka”.  I like the word vodochka because it sounds like it is from Clockwork Orange.  Great book and movie, and it wasn't until I started studying Russian that I learned Anthony Burgess based much of the slang on Russian words.

I noticed that ALL Russians gulp their shots of vodochka in one quick blast.  I think many of my comrades were a little upset that I insisted on sipping mine.  When I explained that, to me, it is a terrible waste to simply throw this great tasting, real Russian vodochka down my throat like last week’s trash down a garbage chute, instead of sipping and savoring each little drop, they seemed to accept my foreign custom ;)  It is also a custom to immediately refill any and all empty vodochka glasses.  This tradition would get me into trouble very quickly if I did not slowly sip my portions!

There is no diet soda anywhere, except in a few stores.  You will not find it in restaurants or bars.  I drank alot of mineral water in Moscow. Seeing McDonald’s written in Cyrillic is a real blast, and translating the menu (English words like “Big Mac” and "Cheeseburger" written in Cyrillic) is even more entertaining.  My Russian vocabulary and grammar are very limited, but I can sure read Cyrillic well now!

The City of Moscow

Moscow reminded me very much of New York City.  It has that same sort of feel, especially with the people.  Nobody smiles and they are all in a great hurry to get somewhere.  Of all the waitresses and waiters I met, not one of them smiled, ever.  However, if you can get past the stone faces, the Moscovites are very friendly people.

Moscow traffic is crazy!  Again, similar to New York City, with cars dodging and weaving and pulling off death-defying maneuvers.  Remember the scene from Bourne Supremacy? ...the car chase in Moscow?  …this is the norm!

One difference between Moscow and New York City, though, there is no honking or cursing or any expression of emotion.  I don't remembering hearing more than more car horn the entire time I was there.  When someone cuts you off, and they do this with ruthless, hairsplitting attacks, the person getting assaulted does not even raise an eyebrow.

There were no FUCKING CAR ALARMS going off, either!

They have traffic laws and such, but these are merely suggestions to drivers.  Those double yellow lines in the middle of the road indicating this is your lane and that is the opposing traffic’s lane?  …merely a minor guideline for consideration ;)

A four-lane highway is actually more like a NASCAR race with sometimes as many as six cars competing for position as they travel side-by-side down the road at 120 kph.  Traffic signs (written in Cyrillic letters but strangely spelling English words like “stop”) and street lights?  …sure, when convenient or when the other guy is driving a big truck.  Pedestrian walk lights?  They have them, but do not believe in them for a moment!

Moscow Taxis

Moscow has regular taxis like any other city.  They are usually yellow, with markings and a meter and all.  However, most people take “Moscow” taxis because they are much cheaper.  A Moscow taxi is any car driven by any person that happens to be going your way and is willing to take some money for the ride.  It is sort of like hitchhiking as you raise your hand into the street but do not extend your thumb.

A car will quickly pull over and the negotiations begin.  Many people will, in fact, drive out of their original route to be your taxi, …if the money is right.  Others even sit at popular spots simply to pick up fares.  It’s a wonderfully crazy system that works better than the traditional one.  However, you do have to remember that you’re getting into a stranger’s car.  As a tourist that does not speak the language or know the city, there are rumors that this can be dangerous.

Strange Moscow Fashion

Most of the apparently well-to-do people are wearing very long, pointed shoes, …both males and females.  I mean long and pointed, like a court jester’s boots.  The women wear very thin, spiked heals, too, with metal taps.  Get three or four of them walking near you and you’d think Budweiser’s Clydesdales were bringing in another wagonload.

The Metric System

I really wish we would just convert over here and get it over with!  Not unique to Russia, of course, but their system is so much better!  I’m sticking to the metric system in this writing as a protest ;)  Our system of feet and ounces and quarts is ridiculous!  I also prefer the 24-hour clock and ordering the date by day, month, year.

 

The Daily Notes

I took notes as the days went by, so I would not forget anything.  I have about 7,000 words here to describe only five days of experience, …I’m glad I wrote shit down ;)

The following is written from these notes.  Read and realize what a fortunate person I am and what great friends I have in Russia.  Also, be warned, …I sampled everything, and I am writing everything.  So if you don’t want to read my detailed account of a very romantic and intriguing interlude with a Russian woman, please skip the Day 3 entry…

 

Day 1, Tuesday March 29

A Long Flight Across 10 Time Zones

22 hours of sitting on airplanes and sitting in airports.  I’m not sure why flying tires me so much, with all that sitting, but it completely drains me.  This, mixed with the 10-hour time difference between Moscow and Dallas, makes for some severe jet lag.

…and why are there never any clocks in airports!  The one place you really need to know the time, and they never provide a convenient clock.

 

Day 2, Wednesday March 30

More Flying and a Late Afternoon Arrival

I finally landed at Domodedovo Airport at about 4pm and was greeted by my two friends Anatoly and Yury.   We have been friends for many years now.  I converse with Anatoly, through ICQ and email and the phone, more than anyone else in my life.  It is an eccentric relationship when you know someone so well but rarely actually see them in person.

The only time I do see Anatoly and Yury is once a year at E3 in Los Angeles, but these meetings are always very brief.  No matter, they always bring me expensive bottles of vodochka,

…god bless their souls ;)

So, these are very dear friends of mine, and now I start a whole week of partying with them in Moscow.  They said they have many surprises for me on this trip, and this I would find was more than true!

It was nearly an hour drive to the Cosmos Hotel.  They had reserved, and paid for, the nicest suite on the top floor.  I felt like a king!  I checked in and we then went to the hotel’s restaurant for a great Russian dinner.  We had incredible soups, caviar, blinis, zakuska, and vodochka.  I felt obliged to drink plenty of vodochka, as I only had five days to savor the real stuff.

We then walked around the shopping center near the hotel.  I discovered one could find many special deals on software, especially games!

Why, ...here's one I worked on even, ...and for less than 100 rubles ($3.00) !  They must have very benevolent publishers and distributors in Russia!

I just HAD to buy a copy ;)

We then headed back for the hotel and I crashed by midnight. 

 

Day 3, Thursday March 31

The Really BIG Day!

I woke up at 5:00, jet lagged to hell, and watched Russian television until Anatoly called me at 10:00.

We took the Moscow subway to the city center (there is no such thing as “downtown”).  The subway was a rush.  You take a steep (45 degree) escalader down about 60 meters.  The Moscow subway is one of the largest in the world, and the cars are packed from wall to wall with commuters.

You have to literally squeeze yourself into the subway car, and you become very familiar with the Russian people as your bodies unite into one swaying mass.  Little old ladies are notorious for being quite aggressive when pushing their way in to find a spot close to the middle of the car.  I loved them and their attitude.

We had a great breakfast at a small bistro that also served as a night club.  I often ordered omelets for breakfast while in Moscow, and the Russians have a great variety of these.  Most often they blend the ingredients into the eggs and then cook and fold the omelet, as opposed to the American fashion of dumping the ingredients into the cooked eggs like a pocket.  The Russian omelets are very tasty and delicious.

We next went to the (game)land and VESTNIK offices.  They have incredibly high security, similar to a company the size of Electronic Arts here in America.  They differ from EA in that the security guards had that special stone-faced stare in their eyes as they looked you over more than once, ...and I was escorted by one of the editors of the magazine!  I’m not sure if this is typical for all businesses, or if this is particular to (game)land.

Anatoly and I then walked around the city center for a few hours.  It snowed a little, off and on.  We saw Red Square and Lenin’s Tomb and the Moscow River and the Bolshoe Ballet House and many, many cool churches.

It was so cool for me to see these buildings and places in real life.  I've seen so many pictures of Moscow, and I also still remember the ominous feel many of them had during the Cold War.  I spent 3 years listening for Soviet submarines in the U.S. Navy in the late 1970s, and here I was in Red Square!

I finally got to meet the Great Tolstiy, too!  He is also a long-time, good friend that I only now get to meet in person. We ate dinner at a nice restaurant.

The Russians do not have lunch, but instead eat breakfast, dinner, and supper.  Dinner is a late lunch for us.

I had my first taste of kvas at the restaurant.  If you go to Russia, make sure you try kvas!  It is a semi-fermented drink made from bread.  Although hard to describe, being sort of like beer but more sweet and having a rounder taste, it is delicious!

I also had seven vodochkas that afternoon, which will become more important to the story that follows later this same day, ...I mean evening, ...no wait!  I mean early the next morning.  If I drink during the day, I get tired and I am a complete waste by the time the night arrives.  Being a complete waste was not in the schedule, however!

Anatoly, Yury, Dmitri, and I went to a very cool Uzbekistani restaurant for supper.

Incredible food!  The best were the sheep balls ;)  I also found the ethnic aspects very interesting!

The food was served in the Eastern fashion, with everything placed at the center of the table and everyone sharing.  This was one of the many times I was introduced to the Russian sense of warmth and closeness, especially between friends.  We Americans are so uptight and hermetically sealed from each other, as compared to the Russians.  One person would grab a round of bread and rip off a piece with his bare hands, quite aggressively and with a lot of hand contact.  The molested wad was then handed, sometimes thrown, to another person to eat.

They would also take a skewer of meat, bite off one piece for themselves directly from the skewer, and then pass it on down to the next person.  I felt like family and very much at home.

I dove into this dining custom with enthusiasm and I wondered why we are so restrictive amongst our friends back home.  I mean, if I'm so worried about germs on my friends’ hands and mouth, then they shouldn’t be my friends, and vice versa.

We left before midnight and Anatoly and I headed back for the hotel.  Oh yes, I had a few more vodochkas with supper.

On the way back to the hotel, I commented to Anatoly about how tired I was.  Remember, this is still only my first full day in Moscow, ...I'm severely jet lagged from the two days of flying before, I had woken up at 5:00 with barely 4 hours of sleep, it was now 19 hours later, after a day of walking and eating and vodochka drinking, ...and I am a old man!

Anatoly suddenly got a disappointed and semi-shocked look on his face.  He then said “I hope you are not too tired, Richard!  We have arranged a special surprise for you at the hotel!”.  My mind wondered, but not for too long, because it was pretty obvious what this surprise was.

We got back to the hotel and sat in the lobby.  Anatoly made a phone call on his cell and said that a "special friend" was on her way to meet me.  By now I knew exactly what the surprise was!  I was so tired and really not in the mood, really, even for my first Russian “girlfriend”.  However, Anatoly told me that they had gone to great trouble to find me a quality girl and this event could not be rescheduled.

Okay, I’m game, I don’t want to upset the schedule or international relations.  Anatoly’s cell phone rang once more, and he told me to wait while he went out front to meet her.  It’s a good walk to the street from the hotel, so I lit a cigarette while Anatoly went to get her.  I think Anatoly was nervous, and I know I was nervous, …very nervous!

Nervous?  ...I haven’t been with a woman for 5 years, and this was my very first “professional” date, ...and she was Russian, ...my ultimate fantasy!

I sat, and then my cell phone rang.  Anatoly told me to come on down to the street to meet the girl and get introduced as we walked back to the hotel. 

Her name was Alisa and she was gorgeous!  She was 23 years old and a dancer (I later discovered), and she had an incredible face and body.  By the way, she knew maybe 20 words in English, and I even fewer in Russian.  Anatoly acted as interpreter during the walk.

When we returned to the hotel lobby, Anatoly said to me in English, and her in Russian, that we should go on up to my room.  He then gave her money for the cab ride home, and left the hotel to go home.  He said he was very tired, …"You're fucking tired?", I thought to myself ;)

The Hotel Cosmos has strict security.  You must show your room pass, and even your passport at times, to a very stern-faced guard at the elevator, or you do not get to your room.

The hotel is filled with it’s own set of glorious professional girlfriends, and from what I understand by researching on the internet before I came to Moscow, it is easy to get these girls up to your room.  It often requires a separate charge for the security guard, but it is not a problem.

However, bringing a girl from the outside is definitely forbidden.  She is not part of the System.  I'm just then remembering this information as we approached the guard, who simply looked at me, looked at Alisa, looked at me again, and shook his head.  No words, no facial expression, just the cold eyes peering and the head slowly swaying back and forth.  I asked a few more times, but only got the same response.

We walked back into the lobby and I called Anatoly to explain what happened.  He suggested trying again, but this time offering some rubles.  Ah yes, the rubles!  So Alisa and I tried again.  I had a wad of 100R bills and started peeling them off one at a time.  The swaying of the guard's head only increased in intensity as each bill was flipped.  Alisa was no help in this situation, and she actually looked a bit frightened by the encounter.

Okay, so this is not going to happen.  We walked back to the lobby again and I phoned Anatoly to tell him what happened.  To be honest, in the back of my head, I was sort of hoping this meant the deal was off and I could just go to bed.

No way!  Coupled with the Russian pension for never giving up on any venture started, I also later found out that he had already paid her a large sum of money for 2 hours of “friendship”!  By Moscow rates, this was an expensive date. 

Anatoly asked to talk to Alisa, then to me again.  Okay, Plan B, I will take a taxi with Alisa to her apartment in the city center.  This is a half-hour drive, a time length that would later seem like a small eternity.

It's now a little after midnight.  I'm alone in Moscow on my first day, my head is nearly dead, my body is almost visibly shaking with anxiety and anticipation, and I'm with a woman who shares no language capacity with me, ...and I am getting into a crazy Moscow taxi to go to her apartment in the middle of the city!

Alisa and I sat in near silence during the ride, with me praying I would have enough wax on my wick to do this thing, and her, …well, I have no idea what she was thinking, but she was smiling alot.  She had such a nice smile.  Did I mention already that she was Russian?

We got to her apartment.  It was very nice.  The exterior of many buildings in Moscow, especially the Soviet Era-aged ones, are a bit run down, dirty, and even look menacing to one’s health.  The inside, though, is always immaculate and filled with new furniture and the latest electronic amenities.  This was her apartment building and her apartment.

She has four roommates, all young and pretty, and three of them were watching porn in the living room on a big screen television.  They giggled a bit when they saw me, and there was a slight air of unease amongst all of us, probably because of the language barrier.  I also had the impression, though, this sort of "take home" order was new to them.

We went to her room and sat on the bed.  It was awkward, not having any means of communicating with each other.  Soon, though, one of the roommates came in and asked if I wanted chai (“tea”).  I felt more like I was visiting a girlfriend’s place, in the usual sense.  It was so nice!  ...and my nerves were calming down by the minute.

What was really nice, on the broader sense, was my realization that this version of the boy-meets-girl relationship is so secure and certain.  There were no questions in my head or doubts in my mind about what would happen.  Even with a close girlfriend, one you've been with for years, you’re never quite sure what will actually happen during the tryst.  Tonight?  …it was like ordering a limo, ...I knew exactly what would happen, and this removed a lot of my usual stress and anxiety.

Cool, so we’re in her room and on her king-sized bed.  Alisa asked if I would like a massage, using mostly hand language.  I rapidly replied “Da! Da!”.  Actually, I nearly melted when she said "massage" with her thick Russian accent.  It was sinking in, I was with a Russian woman, in her bed, and she can only speak Russian!  ...a fantasy come true!

We undressed, down to the underwear, and I noticed she was missing one of her little fingers.  It is amazing how almost natural a hand looks without that finger, maybe from watching too many cartoons all my life.  I tried to find out what happened to her, but she only said “young”.  I reached for her hand and I kissed her right where the finger should be.  She smiled with both embarrassment and comfort.

She then proceeded to give me one of THE best massages I have ever had, an order of magnitude better than any of the professional masseuses I have experienced.  My eyes were closed as she rubbed and soothed my back, legs, arms, and hands for almost 30 minutes.  During this time, trying desperately not to fall asleep, I would open my eyes to see that first she had removed her bra, and then later her panties.  God, she was gorgeous!  Perfection in the female form!

I think the language barrier added to the romance.  I know it did for me, both the inability to talk and the Russian accent when she did speak.  I wonder what she thought of my American accent.  I think we sound like dogs barking, but I understand that Russian women like the American accent.  I didn't really care, I knew what was going to happen either way ;)

Soon I was on my back and also completely naked.

It was very obvious how “happy” I was, with 19cms proudly pointing straight to the ceiling. Instead of massaging the front of my body, she began to give me the best felatio I have ever had.  This girl was fantastic!  She did that cool rubber-in-the-mouth application so that I barely knew I was wearing one.

She then lay next to me and we cuddled a bit.  I was now going out of my head with excitement.  I normally do not like to rush things, ...you know, the nice slow progression from kissing to foreplay to the finale is so much better than wham-blam-thank-you-maam, …but I immediately rolled on top of her and started in.  She was so warm, so soft, so firm, …and so tight!  In so many ways, she was the ultimate of all my previous encounters, ...and she was Russian, so she was also my fantasy!

I usually, well, from what I remember, can last a good hour or two, but I was soon winded.  Being old, fat, out-of-shape, and fatigued bares a heavy load.  So we paused for a cigarette.  While smoking, she would reach over to me and stroke my mustache, and she would say “Moi Mushketior!” (“My Musketeer”).  Everything she said in Russian was incredible, but this drove me absolutely nuts.  “Moi Mushketior!”

We finished our smokes and she turned to me to ask “Jacuzzi?” with the same beautiful Russian pronunciation.

“Jacuzzi?”, I returned, barkingly?  She headed for the bedroom door and handed me a towel to cover myself.  I’m thinking this will be one of those small bathtub conversion Jacuzzis, ...but no! ...it was a four-person full-sized Jacuzzi in her bathroom!  She gave me an incredible soap down, with the water jets pulsing, and I nearly melted in the warm, bubbling water!

We returned to her room and "cuddled" some more.  The radio was on in the background, softly playing contemporary Russian songs.  She quietly sang to me as we lay and petted each other.  Her voice was so sweet, and singing to me in my beloved Russian? …I’m having a hard time believing this all happening, ...this ultimate of ultimate fantasies of mine, ...in bed with a Russian girl, singing to me in Russian, ...and on my first day in Moscow!

I took the opportunity to "appreciate" her body in the dark (this is when I found out she was a dancer) and gave her a massage.  She continued to sing softly.  She was so firm and tight, …and perfectly proportioned, ...and tight!  Honestly, with no exaggeration, I could barely get one finger inside her.  This was not for a lack of lubrication on her part, either.  My goodness, what a body, ...both inside and out.

Her singing was now turning to pleasant ummms and oooohs.  I believe these words contain the same conveyance in both languages.

I kissed and licked her all over, and soon her subtle moans increased in frequency and amplitude.  I thought about her roommates, and then I didn't.  I still had my finger inside her, gently poking and prodding her G-spot, and then the true reward came!

A girl can fake an orgasm with her voice and body motion when your dick is inside her, but the finger knows all.  There is no way to fake that surge of quivering spasms in her vault and the sudden rush of fluids, ...and then, of course, you get pushed away very quickly as everything is too sensitive to touch anymore.  That's the only time you enjoy getting pushed away by a woman ;)

Wow!  ...where was I?  ...oh yes, in Moscow, with a beautiful Russian woman!

This routine repeated a few more times, …her room, visits to the bathroom for a soak, once for a nice shower and lathering of each other’s body, until it was nearly 4am.  I was pretty well spent.

Hmmm, 4am, …she was paid for 2 hours, but I got an extra one.  Perhaps the romance was not only on the American’s side, ...or perhaps she only didn't know how to say "Get the hell out!" in English ;)

Wait!  …4am!  …and I’m in the middle of Moscow, in a strange woman’s apartment, and I need to get back to the hotel somehow!  Moscow is a nice city, but like most cities, it is very dangerous at night, especially for tourists who can't speak the language and who don't know the routines.  Moscow is especially notorious for corrupt taxi drivers who like to drive you around for hours, or even worse, take you out somewhere to beat the shit out of you and steal your money.  No options, though, I had to leave.

We got dressed, and Alisa made sure I had collected everything.  We went out to the street and she waved me a cab, one of those crazy (read: "creepy" at this time of night) Moscow cabs, and I got in.  She explained to the driver where I needed to go as she gave him the money.

We took off and I was in immediate panic mode.  I mean, what a day, and now I'm in a Moscow taxi completely vulnerable, and praying to any and all gods that would listen to an atheist at this point to please, please deliver me home to my hotel safely!

It was a long drive.  I couldn’t remember how long the original drive was, and the panic in me made the time go by very slowly.  I also did not recognize any of the buildings, of course.  It was dark, very dark, and the streets were empty of cars and people.  I tried to act cool on the outside, but inside my brain was scrambling for any contingency plans it could muster.  There were none.

The driver did, in fact, bring me straight back to the Cosmos, and I was very relieved.  I gave him a very nice tip!

I immediately crashed and I don’t think I have slept more soundly in many years.  Breakfast the next day was the best breakfast I had ever eaten, …wait, that’s stolen from Fight Club!  … ;)

 

Day 4, Friday April 1

KRI Begins

This was the first day of KRI, the Russian equivalent of our E3 in Los Angeles.  It was, in fact, very similar to E3 with only the size being smaller.  I got the chance to meet many of the online friends who I have known for so many years.  I also got to see the latest Russian games.  These guys have a great sense for game.  I expect many other westerners will be saying the same thing in the next year or two.

Anatoly and I held a Question and Answer session for two hours, and this was followed by a few visits to the (game)land booth so I could sign stuff for their fans.

During the Q&A session, Anatoly acted as the Great Interpreter.  I must say I was impressed that he could listen to me for 1 to 3 minutes, remember what I said, translate it into Russian, and then repeat it to the audience.  After which, he did the same in reverse.

After KRI, I was invited to have an old-fashioned, traditional Russian dinner at Anatoly's house.  I was deeply honored by this.  To give you a sense of how honored, this was almost as precious as a night with Alisa, perhaps even more.

Two of Anatoly’s friends joined us, as well.  The Russian household still has many of the qualities we used to enjoy here in America.  Anatoly lives in a very nice apartment with his Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother, Father, and little brother.  His family is warm and cordial, and they immediately made me feel like I was one of them. 

They made a special setting in the living room, as there were too many of us to fit in the dining room.  His Grandmother and Mother also cooked so much food it wouldn't have fit in the dining room anyways ;)  What a layout!  …and everything was homemade.  We started with the best borsht I have ever eaten (I love borsht), dabbed with sour cream from a local dairy.

We drank compot, a special fruit drink made from cherries.  The cherries are picked and quickly boiled in water to kill any fermentation.  The jars are then sealed and the compot is aged during the Winter.  We had raw bacon (a Russian delicacy) and blood sausage and other meats.  There was a sort of tortellini, of which I forget the name.  There was plenty of zakuska and cheeses and… …there was a ton of food!

All was ultra-delicious and this was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

After dinner, we sat and talked.  Sometimes Anatoly was there to translate, other times not.  Although I could barely understand what everyone was saying, I could see that they were very concerned that I was having a good time.  I was!  Soon, we started taking pictures of each other, and then the gift giving started.

Russians are the most generous people I know.  Similar to what we know as Southern Hospitality, whatever is theirs is also yours.  I had brought gifts for them, being an educated American.  I brought a nice Native American bracelet for Grandmother and Mother.  Both were made from American-mined silver and native blue turquoise.  The turquoise matched the blue Mother was wearing so well, you’d have thought I was psychic.  I spent a pretty penny for those bracelets, and I was glad I had...

...because they tried to give me half of their house in gifts!

I brought some Levelord-related game gifts for Anatoly’s Father, and this also was great because Grigory had drawn a cool picture of me as a gift.  So, we traded our tokens of art with each other.

Notice Grigory's mushketior facial hair, ...he and I are cut from the same piece of lumber ;)

 

Day 5, Saturday April 2

More KRI

More KRI events, and meeting more efriends.  There was a KRI party sponsored by Nival that night and it was very cool.  Anatoly looked worn and weathered, but I had a great time.  There were topless dancers and waitresses galore.

As happens here in America, we centered on one particular table as our headquarters.  Eventually, though, I got up from our hang out spot and started to roam around on my own.  Anatoly had been closely guarding and protecting me during the KRI event, and I would soon discover why.

(game)land paid for this entire trip.  They treated me, as is obvious by now, like a king.  In return, they expected exclusive rights to the Glorious Levelord.  I was not to speak to any other magazines.  This was, of course, the way I intended things to run even if they hadn't said so. .  However, I was not remembering the Russian characteristic of never giving up and not stopping for any obstacles.

Even before I left for Moscow, I had other magazines’ reporters trying to cajole and even coerce me into providing them with interviews and such.  I told them about (game)land and my exclusivity to them.

“Come on!  Just sneak away for a few moments…”.  I had to make more than a good dozen denials, often repeatedly to the same person over the course of many days.  Russians do not give up!

The party was even more severe.  There I was in person, and once Anatoly was not at my side, I had a few of them try once more.  They also had a good belly-full of alcohol now.  At times I felt like I was being pursued like the lone harlot on a French colony. 

I tried to maneuver back to the table where Anatoly was headquartered, but I kept getting approached, from multiple sides.  Plus, the place was sprinkled with beautiful topless dancers and waitresses, so it was hard, I mean it was difficult to stay focused. 

Finally, it got so bad that I started hitting the call button on my cell for Anatoly.  It was too loud to talk, so I just kept calling and hanging up until he came to rescue me.

There was this older woman that kept a constant vigil around our table with her broom and mop.  If even the smallest piece of trash or cigarette ash fell to the floor, she was on it.  When there was nothing to sweep or mop?  …she swept and mopped anyways.  If your feet were in the way, she would look at you with a firm face and quite aggressively poke at your shoes until you raised them.  Then, after cleaning the floor under your feet, she would look back at you and smile one of the warmest smiles you could hope to see.  I loved her.

At 23:00 the party ended, and Anatoly and I headed back to the hotel for a few rounds of beer and vodka at the hotel’s bar.

The drive home was an especially harrowing flight in one of those crazy Moscow taxis.  This guy really didn’t care about traffic lanes and signs.

 

Day 6, Sunday April 3

The Dacha!

Yet another incredible day was planned for me.  Anatoly and Yury had reserved a cabin for the three of us at a nice dacha (country retreat) 2-hours drive outside Moscow.  I had a great time just watching everything as we drove, but the dacha was even better.

Anatoly and Yury shared a room, and I had my own.  I was a king in Russia!

At first Yury thought the dacha manager had reserved the wrong cabin.  There was only one big bed in the middle of their room.  The manager showed us that it was actually two separate beds pushed together.  She separated the beds and left.

I noted that this was the very first time I had seen Russians exhibit what I considered American behavior.  I would not have been surprised if Yury and Anatoly simply shared the one big bed.

Yury laughed and said it's not that, he was just concerned about rolling over in the middle of the night and forgetting it was Anatoly (and not his girlfriend) sleeping next to him.  Anatoly agreed that he shared the same concern ;)

My dacha, ...the room was comfortable and cozy.  The countryside was beautiful.  There was more snow than in Moscow, and the forest was half birch and half pine trees, my two favorites.

Anatoly and Yury wanted to rest a bit, but I had no intention of wasting time with shut eyes.  I sat outside, in my T-shirt, and enjoyed the cool, crisp air.  I also walked in the snow, and my Wallabees now have stains made from Russian snow, real Russian snow.

We had a great dinner, including raw venison, killed and prepared locally.  This was absolutely my favorite Russian delicacy.  We drank vodochka and beers while we played pool.  We then drank vodochka and beers while we bowled.  I think the pool and bowling were only vehicles.

Then we went to the banya!

The banya is similar to our sauna, but Russian style.  First, you get completely naked and stay that way for the entire venture.  No towels or little shorts to hide your dick, just you and your friends flapping in the free air.  I have no problem waving my dick around, but I was very embarrassed by being so fat and flabby.

Side note: Russians do not get circumcised like we tend to do ;)

The bayna is a VERY hot steam room, where you whip yourself and the guys next to you with eucalyptus stems.  This is followed by a life-threateningly dip in ice water.

Then you sit and chat in a third room, and drink vodochka and beers, and eat zakuska, only to repeat it all again.  After three or four of these sessions, you feel great.  Personally, I think you feel great only because you have survived it all!

I took pictures of my banya experience, but fortunately for your eyes, I will not post those.  Instead, just a nice picture of Yury and I, ...with clothes ;)

 

Day 7, Monday April 4

The Heart is Starting to Sink

We spent the first half of the day at the dacha.

Yet another great breakfast and yet another variation of omelet.  This time is was like a delicate souffle.   We walked around a bit before it was time to leave.

Anatoly and Yury kept trying to explain how much better the place was in the Summer, and I in turn kept reminding them that I prefer the Winter and snow and cold.  Sometimes I felt more Russian than the Russians ;)

We then had a wonderful ride home through the Russian countryside and back into Moscow.

We stopped at Anatoly's home first to drop him off.  I thought about the incredible supper I had there a few nights before.  I was very sad because that night was now only history.

Then Yury took me home.  This was the until-we-meet-again scene with him.  The bummer about becoming attached to anything is that you will ultimately have to say goodbye.  I hate saying goodbye.

I "rested" and packed at the hotel that afternoon.

That night I had another supper at a different Uzbekistani restaurant with Dmitri.  The food at these places is beyond words!

Anatoly and Yury did not join us this time, rather I supped with Dmitri and some of his acquaintances.  I hadn't seen Dmitri much so far, and it was good to have dinner with him.  I was also sad, though, because my other two friends were not there, and this was my last night to be with them.

In their stead, there were two Swedes, one Dutchman, and a half-Brit/half Swedish guy.  I noticed we did not practice the Russian style of eating shared foods.  The food was served on communal plates in the center of the table, but we did not eat like family as we had done the previous time.

There was the typical Uzbeki entertainment, of course, and they also had cock fights (no-feathers-harmed sparring sort of fights between two roosters that I think were more interested in fucking each other rather than fighting).

I fell in absolute love with our waitress! She was drop-dead gorgeous and to win a smile from her made my heart race.  I'm glad that she didn't know I would buy her a house or car at the mere asking ;)

One of my favorite experiences in Moscow was when I would catch the eyes of a woman, smile at her, and received nothing in return.  Not smiling is typical for Moscow.  I would smile again, sometimes even a third time, and then she would return with this soft, delicate half-smile.  I felt a sense of sincere acceptance and acknowledgement.  The waitress did this, and she was a beautiful creature!

 

Day 8, Tuesday April 5

It Was So Hard To Leave!

Now my heart really is broken!  Again, I felt just like a teenage boy losing his first girlfriend because he has to move to a new town.

Usually, toward the end of vacations, I start to look forward to returning home.  The familiarity of home and all the comforts to which I am accustomed.

Not this time!  I really did not want to go, ...who would ;(

Anatoly and I sat in the Cosmos' cafe for three hours, waiting between check-out and the time to grab a taxi to the airport.  He went all the way to the airport, an hour drive each way, to make sure I made it safely.

I have such a good friend in Anatoly.

The plane ride from Dallas to Moscow was grueling but not so bad.  Most of the time was spent eagerly anticipating the week ahead.

The trip back?  ...complete misery and depression!  I was so unhappy.

One thing did brighten me up for a moment.  You will think I'm making this up, but I swear it is absolutely true...

...I had a connection in London.  While I was on the plane, slowly taxiing for take off to Dallas, I started thinking "You know what, Richard?  You could hop off this plane, get a return back to Moscow, and get a room in the Cosmos.".  I could call Anatoly and tell him I decided "Fuck it!  I'm not going back!".

Just as the words "Fuck it!" crossed my brain, an airplane with the words Phuket Air passed by my window.  I nearly shit in my pants and was now completely convinced that this trip was destined by the gods!

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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 17:06


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