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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BABA' BABO




That's it. I am completely bored now. I have had some fun with this column, but it is time to call it a day.


It is not that there are not fun things to do in the Cucumber. New clubs keep opening weekly. For example, just last weekend saw Res Publica open its doors and out-and-about stalwart Owen Matthews was telling me about another place with a DJ on a crane that goes up and down. (Why? you might ask. That's the Cucumber, I'd answer.) I didn't make it to either of these, having been distracted by the strip-a-thon at Titanic. The management had combed the Cucumber in search of the best looking and bustiest women in town and had them all on stage in G-strings at once. By the end of the evening, every nook and cranny of the club had some teen vamp thrusting out her buttocks and caressing her breasts not inches from your face.


The bunch with which I went to this particular soiree included two English chaps in for the weekend (and I use 'chaps' for a reason), who had the classic "I never knew Moscow was like this" experience. But for those of us who live here, it has all become grist for the milling about at nightspots that occupies Cucumber weekends. Havin' it over the weekend has taken on (for me, anyway) an Evelyn Waughesque element of Decline and Fall.


Griping? Well, yeah. Maybe. It is no longer a question of mad evenings, but the lack of adventure. For the chaps over from ol' Blighty, the Big Cucumber still offers a big experience. Things go on here that you'd never get away with at home: Ladies' Night at the Ugly Duck to name one. But they are all variations on the same theme. It has become less inventive and shocking, more debauched and base.


Having adventures is an art. It takes a lot of time and effort. Nine times out of 10, your evening will be dull and insipid. But the 10th ... It is the 10th that makes it all worthwhile. I count myself as lucky. Fate has thrown me some classics over the years, not all of them pleasant, but all of them intoxicating.


Going to Titanic to see a score of beauties get their kit off is amusing, but it is hardly adventurous. Really, naked girls and huge quantities of illicit substances are par for the course. The venues change, but no one is doing anything particularly fresh. The essential quality of adventure is missing -- unpredictability.


When I first arrived in this city things were far from predictable. I spent the days standing outside the White House talking to the communist demonstrators and soldiers on the perimeter and spent the nights getting blasted at places like Penthouse or Bogdan Titomir's house. The tanks rumbled across the Kutuzovsky Bridge to pound the White House with shells and the tusovshchiki were talking about where to hold the party that weekend.


It is this suspension of reality that makes life so real here. It was that you had no idea what will happen in the next few hours -- let alone the next months -- so your life became an immediate succession of minutes, hours and days. A few months in the Cucumber were worth years of personal experience elsewhere. There is still a feeling of being alive in Russia that is bludgeoned to unconsciousness by the predicable routine of the developed world. But as the horizons are stretching out over the calendar, years in Russia have a meaning that they didn't before.


Many of the old guard have left to escape normality. It is selfish on my part to miss the worst. My heart bleeds for the Russians who have to live through the hell of post-communist Russia, while I sit out the pain in my comfortable apartment with my expat pay. So I do not regret the leveling of chaos. I am going to stay. It has been an unforgettable time for me.