Jul
31
2010

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Special Day

by Tara

Here we are, in Red Square, in Moscow. We can hardly believe it! The first thing we notice is not the giant statue of Lenin or the colorful oniony domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, however, but some of the tallest, skinniest woman we've ever seen, and a floofy bride holding her now-husband's hand as they walk towards an enormous stretch limousine.

Moscow Wedding #1

Russia so far seems to be the land of butt-exposing short shorts, skyscraper-high heels, skin-tight polyester see-through dresses, and over-the-top push-up bras. It seems as though everyone is on their way to the club, but no, they are just for walking around town!

Russian Woman w/ Crazy Shoes

While marveling at how the women can even walk (let alone trek around town all day) we make our way past souvenir stalls selling Soviet uniforms with the hammer and sickle on them. There are at least five tour guides shouting into megaphones in and around the square.

Moscow City Tour Sign

At the State Historical Museum, another loudspeaker rings through the crowds, informing the masses of the important items on display inside in several languages.

While Tyler is recording, I see an entourage of fancily-dressed people approaching. At its center, is another poofy white Moscovian bride! I guess its her "special day", too. I decide I'll "collect" brides today. When I walk over, she smiles and sort of curtsies at me, like a benevolent princess might to her court.

Moscow Wedding #2

Next up is Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We both cringe at the idea of standing perfectly still in full uniform during weather like this, it is hot. Just as we are leaving, the guards change. One of them high steps skillfully, lifting his legs perpendicular to his body as he marches off.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Sign Russian Guard Russian Guard

"Tyler, give me the camera, I've got to run!"

Moscow Wedding #3

No sooner have I finished photographing couple number three, when two more wedding parties appear! I think this woman's dress is beautiful. It feels sort of Jane Austen.

Moscow Wedding #4

Bride number five's dress reminds me of flappers from the 1920s:

Moscow Wedding #5

On our way to St. Basil's Cathedral, Tyler and I take a break to people-watch in a patch of shade on the vast cobbles of Red Square.

Babushka Russian Girls

While resting, we observe this woman begging in front of the history museum. She wears a permanent and painful-looking grimace as she makes the sign of the cross repeatedly, bobbing her crouched body up and down.

Professional Beggar

Somewhat to our surprise, she is making a lot of money. This is a highly trafficked area and we watch as people repeatedly fish bills out of their wallets, and set them in her dish. As soon as they walk away, the woman quietly and deftly takes the bill, folds it up, and tucks it into handkerchief in her sleeve. All that's left in her dish is a bunch of small coins. The next person comes, puts a bill in her jar, and the process repeats itself.

Professional Beggar

After less than ten minutes, by Tyler's count she has collected more than 500 rubles (just under $17 USD). We later learn that she has been a regular at this spot for years, and that she must pay a portion of her collection to the mafia and the police. Crazy!

Professional Beggar

Back on the move, we want to see Lenin's preserved corpse. Unfortunately, the line to his mausoleum stretches around the block. As we try to join the queue, the police close it off. Visiting ends at 1:00, so we'll have to come back another day.

Red Square, Moscow

Onwards! On our left, we pass the gigantic GUM Shopping Center; I love the detailed curtain draped over the section under construction:

Red Square & Building Under Repair

And then we make our way over to the bright and beautiful oniony domes of St. Basil's Cathedral:

St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

Tourists surround the iconic building, along with even more wedding parties! I hit the jackpot with this woman, striking all sorts of ridiculous poses. I wonder if this gesture is her idea, or the photographer's. Or maybe, she about to keel over in the almost 100 degree heat.

Moscow Wedding #6

Here is a nice couple; they wave at me happily as they pass.

Moscow Wedding #7

Lastly, a young woman with an older man who seems to enjoy fondling her face for the camera. It all looked a bit, erm, uncomfortable.

Moscow Wedding #8

And on that note, we head home, with eight kilometers of stick-straight walking in front of us. Navigating in Moscow has been much easier than St. Petersburg so far. After about kilometer four, having already stopped twice at McDonalds to slurp down a cold milkshake and a glass of ice water, and once at a minimarket to buy a cold beer, we tap out. The heat wins.

So, we head underground to the metro. Two stops later, we emerge and find ourselves just a few hundred meters from Evgeniy's apartment.


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4 comments

Aww welcome to Russia - land of professional beggars, mafia, and low respect for women and non-Russians. Be careful and have fun. I have enjoyed catching up on your blog.
Posted by maryfran on August 4th, 2010 at 4:45 PM
We were at Allerton Park on Saturday (also hot and humid and mosquito-infested) and the brides were a dime a dozen there too! It's odd to run upon a wedding party in the woods. I suddenly felt terribly underdressed.
Posted by Katrina on August 4th, 2010 at 5:00 PM
All of the sexily underdressed and overdressed women reminds of the Cold War period, and how the media in the U.S. used to make fun of Russian women, stereotyping them as ALL fat and lumpen (as in lumpen proletariat), wearing bulky unattractive clothing. In China, after the Red Guard era of women dressing in drab military colors and clothing, nowadays they dress all frilly & overly feminine. I wonder if something similar is happening in Russia; now that the economy has improved, women are reveling in their ability to dress up and look sexy -- Perhaps the men are threatened by it, and try to exert control through their objectification?
Posted by Jean on August 6th, 2010 at 6:59 PM
You have definitely increased my desire to visit Russia! :D
Posted by Navi on September 23rd, 2010 at 8:12 PM
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