Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Excuse me, is that your GOAT...eating your purse?

We met great friends recently at one of our fave Georgian restaurants in Moscow called Khachapuri.  (Side note...Khachapuri is a type of melt-in-your mouth bread served with melted cheese and egg poured in the middle.  Safe to say all Georgian food is packed with flavor - delicious sauces, lots of nuts = heaven!).  

Khachapuri - all world!

We arrived at the bustling restaurant and began the 5 minute minimum required undressing process...the removal of layer, upon layer of cold-blocking accoutrement.  During this exercise I happened to glance down and notice a medium sized dog (caught him from the rear view) wandering about the restaurant.  This was strange, I thought, as we’ve been to this lovely restaurant many times and never caught a glimpse of a dog roaming about.  Unlike most of Europe, dogs are not so welcomed in eating establishments in Russia.  

And then I did a double take...................this was no dog....................this was a goat...............yes, a GOAT!!!

Now this restaurant is no road-side, throw your peanut shells on the floor, bare lightbulb from the ceiling kind of joint.  It is a well-lit, cozy, more of an “upscale” kind of place.  Never have we seen a goat here, nor a dog, not even a mouse.  And this was no ordinary goat....he was dressed to the nines wearing a very stylish, expensive, Burberry winter coat - apparently custom made as it fit him to a tee with zipper up the back and red trimmed side pockets.  The side pockets were for.....carrying a spare tin can?  He was also sporting a diaper, (bonus for everybody!), and of course a hoop earring.  It was the most bizarre -- and perhaps intriguing thing we’ve ever seen.  My first thought - where is sanitation control?  We’re about to order a couple rounds of food, drinks, dessert...are we supposed to share with the goat?  Then I quickly remembered we’re in Moscow where anything and everything goes.  The goat stays.

"Ummmm...tasty shirt..."

Throughout the night, the goat meandered about the restaurant - sniffing around, grazing on dropped crumbs and munching on the contents of open purses on the backs of chairs (not kidding).
Our friends arrived before us and witnessed the goat’s exclamation when the live piano player stopped playing to take a break:  “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”.  His version of “ENCORE!”?
As the night went on, the little fella came to grow on us.  He had obviously passed obedience school with flying colors as he was quite polite and mingled nicely with the crowd.  He was also down right cute and appeared to have just had a bath - well manicured hooves, nicely combed fur.  Fresh from the salon!  

Hi little fella...

Towards the end of the night I felt my paper napkin disappearing only to realize the goat needed a snack. Our friend, Margo, tried to feed him some lamb, which he balked at.  Must have been an acquaintance. “No thanks....that’s my friend, Bob.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And the winner is....


I contemplated ending this blog post here as kind of a "nuf said!", but, actually, there’s more to the story.  I think it’s clear my blog is in no way a repository for political banter but I would be remiss not to share our local observation of the political history that has taken place in Moscow over the last 75 days. 
We have had a unique and, I think, special opportunity to literally walk out our front door and observe the protests first-hand.  A political hum started here in Moscow back in December that has worked into a protest anthem that's being sung by Russians loud and clear.

In Moscow, from all accounts, after speaking to many locals, the contempt isn’t necessarily with Putin, although there’s plenty of room for argument there.  Putin is often viewed locally as a stabilizer of the country over the past decade or so.  From what I’ve observed, what Russians most want is an end to corruption and unfair elections.  Those sound like reasonable requests.

Police poised with a brigade of water guns...that were not used.

It’s an interesting phenomenon -- to walk among protesters. (Side note:  we haven’t run out to actively mingle with the crowd....we literally could not walk to the gym, the grocery store, the metro without being engulfed by throngs of opposers).  It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in the U.S.  We left, of course, before the “occupy X” hysteria took residence in big cities across the U.S. and in other necks of the worldwide woods.       

White ribbons worn as a statement of solidarity

The first big organized protest took place shortly after the Duma (their government) elections in early December.  Some accounts say upwards of 60,000+ showed up in a park next to our apartment.  Amazingly, no violence reported.  The protestors were well dressed, academic types - the emerging middle class. 

Several other protests took place over the last several months and again after the presidential election on Sunday and a day after the election this past Monday.  This activity will go down in history books as the loudest political “voice” the Russians have had since the Soviet Union fell in 1991.  It’s been amazing to hear their voice just outside our windows. Is the Kremlin listening?  Time will tell...