I tried my very best to move on. I really did. However, the alluring, sweet voice of the topic called out my name in such a way that I just couldn’t resist. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the musings of movement lives to see another article.
Surely you have exhausted this theme from every possible angle there is already? I hear you ask. That’s what I thought. Then I encountered Russian train stations.
Have you ever been betrayed by the very thing you held in high esteem? That’s exactly what I experienced two weeks ago when I stepped into ‘Kurskaya Moscow Station’. It was like a child being told on Christmas day that Santa Claus did not exist. In fact, if you had ripped my heart out at that very moment, I wouldn’t have been any more hurt than I already was.
Perhaps I should explain the reason behind my melodramatics. In my first ever ‘Movement Musings’ article, I mentioned that train stations where one of my favourite places, mainly due to my uncanny interest in observing people travel to different destinations. Alas however, this statement is no longer absolute. After my recent trip, I can sadly conclude that this love does not extend to stations in Russia.
The bombshell first dropped during my initial feat: obtaining a ticket from the kiosk. A serious of unfortunate events meant that I had missed my earlier train. In any normal station, this could be sorted by a simple exchange of tickets or an extra fee to catch the next one. However, this was not a normal train station.
After a few disastrous attempts (mainly due to my inability to read Russian signs properly), I finally located the right queue. Although I couldn’t really call it a queue; it was more like an obstacle assault course where you had to dodge every persistent customer pushing past you. If you managed to survive this game of tug of war, then you headed over to the cashier, ready to face your biggest challenge yet: the worker behind the counter.
Up until this point, I really had thought the saying that all Russian female workers are militant was just a myth. Nevertheless, it seems that stereotypes exist for a reason. As I headed to the kiosk, I was greeted by a glare that could have made even Putin stop in his tracks. By this time, I was already suffering from a mini nervous breakdown after basically being manhandled in the ‘queue’, so my skills of constructing a simple Russian sentence were not at their finest. However, it seemed like my ability to speak full stop, evaporated once I came into contact with this woman of steel. Let’s face it: any conversation that starts with the three words ‘help, late and ticket’ is not going to go down too well.
Following several agonising exchanges of words later and more waits in shambolic excuses for queues, I finally managed to purchase a new ticket. Nevertheless dear readers, in a Russian train station; this is just where your ‘adventure’ begins.
Here is a piece of advice for anyone planning on catching a train in Moscow: bring a compass. After being handed a slip of paper that had more writing on it than a car manual, I now had the laborious task of trying to establish where exactly my train was departing from. Navigating oneself through the plethora of different floor levels feels more like ambling vainly through a complex maze. When I eventually reached the right platform, I was greeted by more militant female workers who demanded I showed them ‘my documents’ before insisting that I should not stop walking until I was in the correct carriage.
One would assume that this is where the nightmare stops, however, the torture goes on. In the first ‘Movement Musings’ article, I also stated that you find certain types of passengers on any form of transport. Once again, this list will now have to be torn up and re-drafted for the sake of Russia. Instead of the stereotypes of pompous businesspeople, pushy mothers and the friendly talkative that I am used to, I was greeted by a whole new array of sojourners. This included rowdy drunk men who insisted on parading about shirtless in order to show off their beer bellies and bitter ‘babushkas’ (elderly ladies) who would growl at you if you so much as hiccupped accidently anywhere next to them. Needless to say, this made my nine hour journey more than a little bit ‘interesting’.
I am aware that I sound grumpier than a baby who has missed feeding time and so I will stop there with my rants for this week. You can however, take away two things from this article. Number one; don’t miss your train in Russia, it’s not worth the hassle. Number two; better still, don’t ever bother catching the train in Russia at all!