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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Six ideas that will make a packet

Recently we had occasion to toast the four-year anniversary of our arrival in Moscow. We reminisced about all the terrible hardships we had to endure -- although of course we exaggerated awfully -- in those times when we were deprived of Western luxuries. In those days life was a lot harder for Westerners. (But also less dangerous. In my first year here I thumbed a lift to work every day and was never accosted by overly familiar or criminal drivers.) I still remember how overjoyed we were with the opening of a Pizza Hut. At last, a restaurant where our son Tom would be welcome! By now he has eaten there so many times that for him the words restaurant and Pizza Hut have become synonymous. I remember how I used to fantasize about going to a dry cleaner or renting a video. My prayers have been answered. Nappies, baby milk, moon-boots and even peanut-butter are now readily available and I no longer have to import them myself from Holland. Even so, I still have a number of wishes left, and for the benefit of all you astute businessmen out there, I am now going to provide -- free of charge -- a list of 'opportunities' which will guarantee your commercial success! 1. A Car wash. It would be handy to have car-washes at various points in the city. Not just for me -- think of all those proud BMW owners who want to show off their shiny cars but don't feel like taking a bucket of warm water up and down in the lift every day. Not too expensive, please. Five dollars a time is more than reasonable. 2. A health food shop. A shop that stocks macrobiotic goods, unsprayed fruit and vegetables, wholewheat bread, oatmeal biscuits, baby food without sugar, seaweed, soya milk, vitamin pills, bran -- in short, all those products which would help to make our lifestyle here a bit more healthy. 3. A spare parts shop. The hose of my Braun vacuum cleaner is broken. The dryer of my Zanus wash-and-dry combination is out of order. The remote control of our Phillips television doesn't work anymore. What's more, I need a component for my food processor. A shop that supplies spare parts for all established makes and carries out repairs could count on me as a regular customer. 4. A Furniture Shop. A simple bookcase, a bed, pillow cases, a standard lamp or a coat rack; all these items may be acquired although with some difficulty. But mostly they are too ugly and too expensive. Mr. Ikea, Moscow awaits you. 5. A sandwich shop. A pastrami sandwich, French bread with brie cheese, a bread roll with fresh salad and fresh fruit juice. Why is it that there's nowhere to go for a good, cheap, quick lunch in this city? The hotels only offer decadant tidbits like smoked salmon on toast and Moscow's solitary luncheonette is always full. 6. A cash machine. So that we can draw dollars and change them into smaller currency. At a bureau de change recently it cost me 6000 roubles to change 100 dollars into smaller notes! Any other requests for business or services required? Let me know, and I'll be sure to bring it to the attention of the businessmen among our readers at regular intervals.