A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 078

Cold sweat in Moscow

The arctic weather in the Soviet Union, so publicized of late, has turned my mind to Moscow and given me goose bumps. A Reason for Coming to Farmington is about to be revealed.…some years ago I spent a brief time in Delhi, India, and became imbroiled in such a furor with the local population (another Reason for Coming to Farmington) that I was relieved to jump aboard an Aeroflot plane bound for Tashkent, in Central Asia. There, I changed flights and a few hours later arrived Moskva, capital of the Soviet Union.

Those travellers, who, like me, were catching connecting flights to other European destinations the next day, were conveyed to the Aeroflot Hotel, a government-operated institution in the city. There we were put up overnight, after being thoroughly processed (passports, airline tickets, personal identification, long forms in triplicate) and confined to the hotel until the time of the flights next day. That is, everybody was restricted to the building for the evening except me and a young couple from West Germany. We had had the foresight, in Delhi, to go through the harrowing bureaucratic process at the Soviet Embassy there, and obtain visas which allowed us a night out on the tiles of Moscow.

We changed rupees into rubles, grabbed a taxi, and headed for Red Square. It was late November, and while nowhere near as cold as the past week of 1987, having just breezed in from the warm climes of India, we were shivering. A light snow drifted down on the soldiers guarding Lenin's tomb. Very picturesque! The giant red stars over the Kremlin, and the onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral…yup! Rather nice! But, feeling the approach of frostbite, we darted into a large palatial building on the other side of the square. It turned out to be a supermarket, thankfully warm, but as boring as its American counterparts.

"Hey!" we said, (the Germans spoke English), let's find that Shazlanski's Bazaar the woman at the hotel desk mentioned."

Problem. How is Shazlanki's Bazaar spelt in the Cyrillic alphabet? Hmm! It would drive a tourist to drink and the Courier typesetters to suicide. We decide to venture, once more, into the icy blast of Red Square and ask a passerby. Not so easy - when no one speaks English or even German. And then, out of the shadows stepped Victor, a friendly helpful Muscovite, who just happened to speak English and German, who wasn't doing anything particular that evening, and who insisted on accompanying us to that famed haven of food and drink, Comrade S.'s Bazaar. What a marvellous stroke of luck, or a K.G.B. plot!

Victor claimed to have been a swimmer for the U.S.S.R. in the Olympic games in Munich, during which time he had mastered several foreign lingos. Perhaps, but he asked a bunch of questions that had nothing to do with the butterfly and the breaststroke. He was, in fact, an irritation, but the Germans seemed to be enjoying his company - maybe they were agents too, out to trap a poor Glasgow cop and create an international incident. Ooooo! Never mind, pass some more of those chicken hearts in liver, and pour another soupcon of that Hungarian champagne! Victor asked how many roubles we had, did a calculation, and hustled up another bottle of champagne with dessert. Yeehaa! Moscow's okay, I thought, after that wretched hole, Delhi!

The bill for the meal came at last and wiped out nearly all my Russian cash. Victor escorted us outside, yelled for a taxi, bundled us in, and said Aeroflot Hotel to the driver. I gave the cabbie my last kopecks on arrival and lurched inside. As I staggered upstairs to my room, I won a disapproving glare from a stout concierge.

"A braw nicht tae ye comrade!" I stage whispered.

"Seex o'clock, your plane for London. I call you very early," she scowled back, as I closed my door.

Irked by the memory of that Victor, who had become a K.G.B. man for sure in my inebriated brain, I began to search my room for bugs. I unscrewed the telephone, looked behind the curtains, checked the signs, but I knew they were there. Listening devices. Ugh. I must have dozed off on the bed for when the conclerge pounded my door and shouted "5 o'clock" with measurable malice, I was still dressed. Victor, and all those roubles came flooding back. And electronic bugs. The carpet, I thought, and rolled it back a little. Sure enough, fixed to the wooden floor was a metal plate about five inches square. Carefully, with a blade from my Swiss army knife, I unscrewed the four corner fastenings - and a massive chandelier in the ballroom below plunged to the ... (cont. on page 94)

Music news

Pentecostalist Jonathon Sindorf, guitar player with the Hidden Place Coffee House band, broke a bone in his left hand the other day while sledding. Only his pinky sticks out of a plaster-cast, but Jon, a true musician, isn't beaten. With a glass tube for a "bottleneck" he is now playing Delta Blues, which is sometimes called the Devil's music. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Important message

Dale Glidden says "Hi, Gram!"

Hatwatch news

Hat of the Week: A tie for 1st place (no pun intended) between Mr. J.A. Costanzo of Chestnut Hill Road in a scarlet felt job, and Foster's reporter Kris Lenfest in a striking blue beret. If you want to get ahead get a hat!

Cribbage winner

Mickey Depalma of Spring Street. Next evening - Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m.

Animal corner

The Farmyard Front, a hitherto unknown political force, was successful in bringing about a U-turn in the Planning Board's Grand Scheme of Things. Not only peacocks, but other squawkers, grunters, bleaters and moo-ers have won a half-acre zone reprieve, nay, victory, thanks to a large turn out of support at last week's public hearing. Democracy in its finest hour!

Winter Whoopee

The Lions announce a Las Vegas night in Farmington Town Hall on Jan. 24 from 7 p.m. until midnight. Big wheel, blackjack, poker, snacks and hot dogs available. I might even send over some spare haggis. (Whaddya mean, no thanks?)

School News

On Jan. 22 there will be a parent/teacher conference at Memorial Drive school, from noon until 8 p.m. At this time, the P.T.A. will run a book fair, and wish to acknowledge generous donations to the cause from local book shop owner (and Lion), Bob Colpitt.

Mrs. Turner's art class, at Farmington High School has produced an eight-foot tall paper-mache tiger, which, like all great works of genius, is the object of controversy. While some folk cheer wildly when it is trundled into the gym, to serve as a mascot for basketball games, other philistines mutter that it is worth a "technical." Between times, Tuffy the Tiger has various homes - it was the school foyer for a while, and currently has a nook in the library. But that too seems temporary. Suggestions, please for the site of a permanent and dignified 2405. Best ideas published.

Jan. 20, 1987

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