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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WEIRD MOSCOW




A couple of weeks ago I went to Zvenigorod and saw a camel munching in a field as I got off the bus in the middle of nowhere. On the way back, a man with a falcon on his arm ran past me going down the escalators at Belarusskaya.


So I wasn't exactly surprised to find a pensioner with a goat near where I live.


Klara Yanushevskaya and Belka, her one-year-old goat, wander up and down Tverskaya plying goat's milk, cheese and tvorog.


"Did you come by metro?" I asked as she appeared from the bowels of Pushkinskaya metro.


"No," she said incredulously, "I came by trolley bus."


Klara goes back and forth between her apartment in Dinamo - where she lives with Belka - and the countryside, where she has another 15 goats staying at an old war sanatorium.


She began keeping goats 16 years ago but she'd been thinking about it ever since she was evacuated to the countryside from Moscow as a child during the war. There, her mother sold a gypsy shawl to buy a small black goat, which bred and bred and bred. Soon they had 24 of the jumpy beasts and a pig so big it looked ready to burst. But it all disappeared after the war.


"I'd dreamt about it ever since," said Klara, a small, unkept pensioner with straggly blonde hair.


The first time I saw her, she persuaded me to buy some goat's milk by pulling out a bottle top from her bag and pouring a wee dram straight from Belka's podgy teats.


"The best is straight from the teat when it's got some foam," Klara said. I guess I shouldn't really have faked sipping the lid.


We went for breakfast together. Heading up Tverskaya with Belka trotting contentedly behind us, we popped into the local konditerskaya for some sushki that Belka will happily walk around on her back legs for, if given the chance.


"Get that goat out of here," cried one shop assistant, while another came across to prod Klara, shouting "Have you got no conscience?"


Luckily the woman behind the counter was more amenable.


"Sometimes they applaud," Klara said.


Further up Tverskaya we sat on a small grassy knoll for some milk, tasty salty cheese and sushki. Belka amused herself by butting the tree she was tied to.


It's not an easy life selling milk on the streets, and Klara seems more keen on the goats than most people around her.


Her son doesn't see eye to eye with her. Even though he has a dog and three chickens, which he keeps in the bathroom, he won't let Belka onto the balcony from his room.


And she's already lost a couple of her favorite goats - eaten by the woman who was supposed to look after them.


"How can people be like that?" said Klara, who dreams of setting up her own business and having a real farm outside Moscow.


She may not be alone. A colleague of mine was driving along Pokrovsky Bulvar one night and nearly ended up wrapped around a tree as she sped past an old man grazing a flock of goats by the side.


"Have you got his number?" asked Klara excitedly when I told her.


- Kevin O'Flynn