×
Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

A Guide for Parking, Swearing and Weeing

???????µ???? ?????????????‡?°: Muscovite’s code

Just when I thought I had mastered the complexities of being a longtime foreign resident of the Russian capital, the Moscow City Duma has decided to produce ???????µ???? ?????????????‡?° (Muscovite’s Code) to help us foreigners assimilate.

Although it’s still being discussed, a few suggestions for proper behavior were given as examples. Some are easy to follow: ???µ ?€?µ?·?°?‚?? ?±?°?€?°???° ???? ???????€?µ (Don’t slit the throat of a sheep in the courtyard). No argument from me on that one, and besides, I think it’s against the law. ???µ ?¶?°?€???‚?? ???°???»?‹?? ???° ?±?°?»???????µ (Don’t grill shashlik on the balcony). I don’t have a balcony and besides, I think that’s also against the law. ? ?°?·???????°?€?????°?‚?? ????-?€?????????? (Speak Russian). Potential problem. Does that mean I can’t speak English with a friend in public? And finally: ???µ ?…???????‚?? ???? ?????€?????? ?? ???°?†???????°?»???????? ?????µ?¶???µ (Don’t walk around the city in national dress). Big problem. Do I have to throw out my jeans, sneakers and down parka?

I appreciate that a large influx of foreign workers into a city may create tension and misunderstanding. Since the code’s compilers plan to consult with members of the various diasporas, as a responsible member of a diaspora I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to fit in with Moscow life based on the behavior of some of the native Muscovites I see and engage with on a daily basis.

1. ?“?€???????? ?€?????°???‚?µ???? ???°?‚???? ???° ???»???†?µ (Swear loudly on the street). This is an ancient tradition, testified to in the earliest descriptions of the city. Although swearing on the street waned during the Soviet period, it seems to be making a spectacular comeback in our days. For example, I am awakened every morning at 7 a.m. by a foreman swearing loudly, creatively and expansively at the construction site next door. Why, just this morning I learned a fascinating new use of prefixes.

2. ???°?€???????‚?µ ???°???????? ?‚?°??, ?????µ ???????° ???????????°?¶?µ?‚ — ???° ?‚?€???‚???°?€?µ, ???° ???µ?‚???????? ???»???‰?°?????µ — ?? ?¶?µ?»?°?‚?µ?»?????? ?‚?°??, ?‡?‚???±?‹ ?????° ?‚???€?‡?°?»?° ???° ???€???µ?·?¶?µ?? ?‡?°???‚?? ???»?? ?±?»???????€?????°?»?° ???€???????µ ???°???????‹ (Park your car wherever and however you feel like — on the sidewalk, on a playground — and preferably so it sticks out onto the roadway or blocks other cars). In fact, if you can figure out how to park it in a tree, go for it.

3. ?????????° ???‹ ???‹???????°?µ?‚?µ ?? ???°?€???µ, ?????€?°???»?????‚?µ ???°?»???? ?????¶???? ?·?° ???????‚???? (When you are drinking in a park, relieve yourself behind a bush). Walls are also acceptable, as are entryways and even — disgustingly — elevators.

4. ???° ???µ???? ?€???¶???µ?????? ?¶?µ???‹ ?????‚?€?°?????°???‚?µ ?„?µ???µ?€???µ?€???? ???? ???????€?µ ?? ?‡?°?? ?????‡?? (On your wife’s birthday, set off fireworks in the courtyard at 1 a.m.) Make sure that you have 37 of your closest personal friends with you — preferably drunk and loud — as well as a pack of howling dogs.

5. ?•???»?? ???‹ ?€?°?±???‚?°?µ?‚?µ ?? ???°???°?·?????µ ???»?? ?€?µ???‚???€?°???µ, ???????????‚?µ: ???????????°?‚?µ?»?? ?????µ?????° ???µ???€?°?? (If you work in a store or restaurant, remember: The customer is always wrong). And if you work in a bank, learn how to snap your window down on the hands of a client who has been waiting for 45 minutes as you say: ???µ?€?µ?€?‹??! (It’s my break!)

Unfair? Absolutely. But honestly, have you ever seen someone killing sheep in your courtyard? Are you upset by the sight of colorful native garb? Do you care if street cleaners chat among themselves in Tajik?

The code may be a good idea, but only if it’s distributed to everyone.

Michele A. Berdy is a Moscow-based translator and interpreter.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more