It’s been 1 month and 13 days since I started my adventure as an ESL teacher in Moscow. I work for a company called Simply English, and they couldn’t treat me better. They have sorted everything for me – an excellent timetable, a bank card (which I used to pay for tickets to Saint Petersburg for my birthday!), a fantastic work environment where I feel welcomed whenever I come into the office, a SIM card, great accommodation (with some questionable wallpaper – but that’s part of the charm) and of course, my golden ticket to Moscow: my Troika card.
My Troika card means that I get unlimited 30 day travel on most, if not all, public transport around Moscow: from the cramped, how-on-earth-are-we-all-going-to-fit marshrutki to the sprawling metro that thunders underground to deliver me from station to station.
As my role entails a lot of commuting around Moscow, I spend at least half my time hurtling from one metro station to another, often from one end of the line to another. On one hand, this means that I can spend a lot of time a lot closer to a lot of Muscovites than I would choose to, on the other hand it means that I know the exact stations where I am most likely to be able to get a seat without a beady-eyed old lady eyeing my young legs and demanding that I give up my seat. (I always do, but they don’t leave a lot of time between getting on and scoping out possible young ‘uns to shift).
The Moscow Metro is jammed full of avid readers, whether they’re using e-readers or crinkled paperbacks, and I have joined them.
The great thing about the metro is that you can really dedicate this commute to ‘downtime’ before a lesson. Sure, I may be pressed up against a door when in the heart of the purple line, but it’s a lot more feasible when equipped with a good book and the promise of a seat once I change onto the grey or dark green lines.
So far, in one month and thirteen days, I have read:
- The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov (this was an absolute slog to begin with, but really picks up in Part 2)
- The Power, by Naomi Alderman (a welcome relief after the swamp of information Bulgakov made his readers wallow in)
- An Almond for a Parrot, by Wray Delaney (wasn’t particularly crazy about this one, but it was an alright read, even though I was glad that not many people can read English in Russia and couldn’t peer over my shoulder at some of the more…alarming passages)
- Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes (I had to stop myself from crying on the metro at this one and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t read it to pick it up as soon as possible)
I’m just about to start The Brothers Karamazov (or The Karamazov Brothers, however you want to translate it), by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m a bit nervous about reading another Russian novel due to the fact that all of the Russian authors that I’ve read are keen on handing you various tangents, a plethora of description and thirty different names for each character, however, what better way to switch off from constant lesson planning and Russian speaking than to immerse myself in a new novel?
Of course, when I forget to bring my Kindle, it also helps that the metro has free Wi-Fi.