Saturday, 3 May 2008

Red Exile isn't dead - he's just been distracted...

So 'real life' has intervened in the last few weeks in the shape of punishing work schedule; quite a lot of travel; a friend (and her 46kg dog) temporarily moving in and - which has been very stressy - the search for new offices in Moscow.

of course there comes a point, blog-wise, where after a longish absence it almost becomes intimidating to do the 'here's what I've been doing' catch-up post. I have got over this, however, by just dumping highlights from my facebook account. So here we go (with more shockingly bad photography from my handheld PDA), the recent past:


Red Exile is spending another public holiday in the office; surprised how humid it is outside, which is early in the season.
May 1
I was in Prague on business
Red Exile says: "If I should die think only this of me"... I like Shiraz with my chocolate course.
April 30

Red Exile is watching the night twinkle on the Danube; a glass of bubbles to hand; a violin being played in the background.

Red Exile says "OK, so there is some football match coming up in Moscow? No, I don't have tickets and I gather the street price is edging towards Euros 1,000" - crazy! Since 'Chelski' has now won a place in this match, I am told the price is now Euros 4,500 for non-VIP tickets.

Red Exile does not have a PhD in applied sciences and therefore is struggling to work the shower in his hotel bedroom. Which was the Four Seasons - which is superb - and it's restaurant, Allegro, quite unbelievably good (and the holder of Prague's first and only Michelin star)
Red Exile I have a table with a view; a pigeon breast; a 1/2 bottle of Côte Rotie: I love life, Prague & everything…

Red Exile is now over a bumpy flight - and normal, smiley service is resumed. We thank you for your patience in this temporary service difficulty.

Red Exile I have *never* thought of the Czechs as other than opportunists and wasters and, 30 minutes in, 4 yrs l8r, I see I was right! I am inclined to be in a very bad mood after landing - partly angry at myself for having been so scared 'up there', which is silly, and partly (justifiably) because Czech immigration, clearing flights in from China and Russia, didn't open the EU Citizens line; until people like me pointed out how crazy it was that we'd have to queue with all the non-EU citizens being admitted with visas. Also, the taxi system sucks.

Red Exile says the plane is what? Late?!? Arrgh!

Red Exile Has now had Aeroflot baked goods and a drink so calmer, checked in and now only to ponder age of plane about to fly...

Red Exile says my life is *so stressful* it is no wonder I have high blood pressure and the heart of an 80 yr old. *Made plane just on time*.

Red Exile hopes everyone enjoys Thursday's neo-cold war parade - cos rehearsals for it have screwed Moscow traffic even more than usual & I am l8 4 plane. The parade is 9th May actually. That didn't make the traffic less sucky.

Red Exile notes that one of his two female house guests is on heat. The 46kg, 4-legged one. Words cannot express... They're moving on Monday. When my mother arrives... I don't get my apartment to myself for another two weeks...
April 28

Red Exile is off to a business lunch in brilliant sunshine.

Red Exile added a new photo to New offices - bought 'off-plan': what can go wrong? OK, so the building is still a 'work in progress' in a completely gutted, exterior cladding yet to be junked and re-done and completely needs rewiring and plumbing kind-of-way. But the developer *promises* me it will be ready for entry June 1st. This is good: our current lease expires 31st May.

Red Exile Madama Butterfly / Stanislavski etc: tonight Irina Arkad'eva was *a goddess*. Act 2 finale a weepy *triumph*!

Red Exile is @ v. gd performance of Madama Butterfly, fuelling up before original 2hr version of Act2.

Red Exile is at the opera, Madama Butterfly, eyeing chandeliers warily... see April 18th for the last comment to make sense.

Red Exile has discovered of himself that the pathology of his fear of flying is fear of heights. He discovered this in the glass lift of Moscow's uber-elitny Lotte Plaza.

Red Exile Apropos his new office space, a mantra: elitny. Designerny. Loftny. *Not Pafosny*. Pafosny? Think Paris Hilton, Donatella Versace, Las Vegas and anything by Dolce & Gabbana. yes, that's right 'gay' (in the sense US highschoolers use the term) and achingly vulgar.

Red Exile has signed an office lease!! Designer space; central & official. Yay!


Red Exile is so-near-and-yet-so-far. Do we have a lease deal or not?!?!

Red Exile was feeling wildly exuberant; but is now back under control to face the day's trials.
April 24

Red Exile is an idiot! Left ballet ticket @home! So sulking shopped at Tsum & now @Cafe Bar-boy... which is what one of the girls I know Christened café des artistes - the name just stuck somehow

Red Exile is off to the ballet tonight. German State Rhine company. Stravinsky. Rites of Spring. A dose of sanity and love in my fraught life.

Red Exile "To the FSB senior officer whose convoy cut me up today but then whose car was pranged by his own follow vehicle not breaking fast enough: hah! Tosser LOL". This was really too funny to watch. Made my morning actually...
April 23

Red Exile actually dares hope there *might* be a glimmer of hope. On the property side of things...

Red Exile has had, in truth, a $*#@ing shite day; and sometimes feels all the burden is on him as (some) just swish about... no doubt his default inner cheeriness will be back o/night. I was stressed, just leaving the office, over-worked and miserable. It happens...

Red Exile just came up with a strategy "find a 30-something woman, make her pretty and let's get her to cry on television" and is concerned that he doesn't feel cheap. It was a good strategy. And I am not cheap... 400 Euros an hour baby!
April 22

I was in Warsaw -I am not hugely fond of Warsaw...
Red Exile has too much work to do and no time to do it.

Red Exile has turned down the chance to eat escalope of crocodile. No kidding - it's available at the Intercontinental Hotel Tower's Mexican restaurant (don't ask!). The public space is crappy in this hotel, but the rooms are great and the view always good (well as good as a view over Warsaw can ever be).

Red Exile says: "well *hello!* Aeroflot you sexy thang!". They're flying brand-new A320-200s into CEE. Eat me, BA!

Red Exile knows he has lived in Russia too long: he finds the baked goods in the Aeroflot business lounge quite irresistibly alluring.

Red Exile setting of for the traditional traffic jam to Sheremetyevo airport, to fly Aeroflot to Warsaw. Ah the glamour of it all...

Red Exile has narrowly missed *death* at the ballet. An 8-cm diameter crystal fell from the great central chandelier and missed my head by inches before smashing on ground in 100s pieces. Felt cold draft of death did we. This really happened and the lump of crystal missed my head by less than 30 cms

Red Exile is off to the Stanislaski-Nemirovich-Danchenko tonight 2 them dance Romeo & Juliet.
April 18

Red Exile wonders if the 'rock song' whose chorus is "are you off your meds?: is Placebo. He laughs & luvs it. It is and I downloaded it from iTunes.

Red Exile is off to dinner with a mate from 'the small island' I now refer to the Britain

Red Exile has just used his best BBC voice to voice-over a TNK-BP corporate video. This is the second time I have done this (just to help them out for a favour - because it is crazy expensive for them to have it done in London and any old Brit RP voice will do - and because, in more weighty and feesome matters, they are also a client)
April 15

I was travelling in Ukraine
Red Exile sees this new overnight train comes with anti-terrorism advice. In the event security forces are going to storm your Chechen terrorists "run-like-f*ck in other direction" seems to be the ambivalent advice. On the new trains there is a poster by the loos with safety advice. This include in cute little pictures what to do if security forces are storming your high-jacked train. And, yes, run in the opposite direction is the helpful guidance they proffer...

Red Exile is witnessing drama @ border; 2 men arrested & dragged off train by Ukrainian troops. Unpaid parking tickets? Very exciting and the full-on paramilitary performance...
April 14

Red Exile and his friend, Johnny Walker, are at the Russian border - for processing. LOL

Red Exile has had his day ruined - 'new' landlord informs him he has been gazumped on new space. So back to Square one and now 5 weeks to Moscow office is homeless... This was a low moment

Red Exile is having a very good day commercially and meteorologically: it is a gorgeous sunny day in Kyiv; the sky is almost ridiculously blue.

Red Exile now has a very deep and abiding love of Ukraine; its tragic and compelling history - the more you get to know it the less like Russia it is.
You learn a lot about Ukraine in the long drive between Kyiv and Lviv and back - abandoned villages and the wrecks of old collective farms testifying to the waste of Collectivised farming, it's failure and - actually - the enormous post-Soviet decline in Ukrainian agricultural output. Land reform is desperately needed to modernise and rejuvenate Ukrainian agriculture.

At the same time, as you drive past vast, pompous - but now sadly forlorn - Soviet-era memorials to WWII (more to bludgeon home a message of loyalty to the Ukrainians than a message of celebration) you realise how awful it must have been to be Ukrainian and part of the USSR. Wondering around Lviv today it is almost impossible to imagine that this bright, smiley, European city was once Soviet. It is totally unlike anything in Russia.
April 13

Red Exile is about to have a hearty lunch of Turkey liver; veal, sour cream & dumplings & all trimmings. It is not cuisine minceur, but do eat at café Amadeus.
April 12

Red Exile is enjoying his birthday in Lviv, in which the whole history of Middle Europe can be seen. The ebb and flow of empires; the heterogeneous sweep of its European architecture; but still defiantly European (Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-classical, Art Nouveau...)
April 11

Red Exile is enjoying cafe society in Lviv; which is charming. Drinking champagne, sitting outside at the Vienna Café where people-watching is great fun

Red Exile is leaving lunchtime for the 5hr roadtrip to Lviv. The guy driving asks "do you want 'fast' or 'safe'?" - what the heck: fast! LOL.
April 10

Red Exile is having a fascinating day in Kyiv.

Red Exile s at the UKR border post, on the train, watching a beautiful sunrise. He is now though hungry & *very* thirsty!
April 9

Red Exile Has just realized that as he is on tne slow-overnight 'express' - 13hrs - inexplicably it has neither restaurant nor bar. Nightmare!! This is the second time I have done this! memo-to-self: only Train #1 (Moscow-Kyiv) and Train #2 (Kyiv Moscow) have buffet cars. The others *don't*

Red Exile en route to Kyiv & then Lviv.

Red Exile is somewhere between despair (back to office property square 1) and elation (deal done). Only in Moscow do we live by these 2 emotional gears and no others. That last sentence, BTW, is probably the truest thing I have ever written about life in Moscow.
April 8

Red Exile did have to smile as he was cut up this morning by a rickety old Lada with *diplomatic plates*.
April 7

Red Exile has had just the most sublime & wonderful night at the ballet; even if his body won't fly dream a soul can. Sometimes good performances make my purple-prose-restraint short-circuit.

Red Exile wonders what you say to a week that is pretty-much ruined before it has begun... hello? Property-related - a great development I was hoping to take was snaffled up - even though I had agreed terms with the developer - by a Russian bank.
April 6

Red Exile woke up this morning dreaming about the future of capitalism. Last night he tried to dream about Tuscany. Oh well...
April 4

Red Exile is back to the drawing board: 8 weeks and counting to find new offices - or else it is hot desking in my front room! Another potential site fell-through (because this one was pretty far from a metro station and, in any case, I just learned that this particular station is about to close for a year's remont; which ruled the property out completely.
April 3

So there you have it. Normal service will now hopefully be resumed...


Anonymous said...

You should have a twitter widget on your blog page =)

Red Exile / Красная Ссылка said...

LOL - actually I do *right hand panel, under the oil price chart). But I haven't yet faffed about to improve the template it is using. The code is from my friends at Edelman.


I love Praha. I was there back in 94 when it was still emerging out of the Soviet shadow. We followed local group to this wine cellar where everyone dressed like Elvis as his music was playing. I must say I did enjoy my experience there, including the shot the locals gave me. I don't know what it was, but it did send me for a loop. Not to mention the apartment I stayed in, I had to use the bathroom that was outside with no heat in the middle of winter.

Red Exile / Красная Ссылка said...

LOL - rest assured that the Four Seasons, Prague, now has plenty of hot water! It is a magnificent hotel.

mmonk said...

it's nice to be able to travel to so many places for work.