Unlike in Europe where renting or sharing an apartment is perfectly normal, your average 30-something Russian considers this a shame. If you didn’t buy your own place in Moscow by the end of your twenties, you’re a loser, period.
All of my ex-girlfriends, when they walked into my beautiful nest with its panoramic view overlooking the Sadovoye Koltso up to the Kremlin, asked me, "Dima, do you own this apartment?" Usually it was the second or third question they’d ask. When I’d answer that I rent it, I could see my worth drop in their eyes, and they’d reassess our potential future.
If I’d lied and said I owned it, of course I would get more pussy. When any Moscow girl sees decent real estate she already imagines growing flowers on your balcony. Unfortunately if you work as an office slave, buying your own apartment is close to impossible.
Personally I consider borrowing money from a bank to be pure evil. I usually blame Americans for this cult of borrowing. We Russians never used to understand what it means to live on credit. These days anyone can easily get credit from a bank without thinking they have to pay it back double when it’s due. Still this doesn’t keep me away from my shiny Citibank credit card.
Most of my friends inherited their apartments from their well-off Soviet relatives; only a few bought them. My friend Boris didn’t have rich relatives so he got a mortgage for $100,000. After few months of thorny bureaucracy, we all got invited to his new castle.
For this kind of money all you can buy is a one-room apartment well outside of the MKAD, an area technically belonging to Moscow region called Balashiha, but in middle of a forest in reality. It takes almost two hours to get there even on weekends because of the traffic from all the Cherkizovskiy Rynok visitors. The local militsia officially belongs to Balashiha, so it takes them 40 minutes minimum to show up when there’s a problem. But even still, when you own even this property, it changes things.
Before moving to Balashiha, Boris lived with his parents not far from Ostankino in one of Moscow’s typical spalniy rayon (residential region). To celebrate his new apartment first we decided to say goodbye to his old neighborhood, so we went to a local club-restaurant called PERSONA GRATA.
I don’t know much Latin but persona grata sounds to me like a powerful VIP name. May be even too VIP. I have never been to this place and started imagining that it’s something like a secret underground club in the woods of the Botanicheskiy garden.
But then reality hit, and I was standing in front the Ostankino TV tower facing a restaurant offering billiards tables, a sushi hall and kalyan all-in-one. Posters on the entrance promised two dance floors with drum and bass music.
I am not a big drum and bass fan because to me this kind of music punches me in the stomach too much. But I felt I had to review it for authenticity’s sake, to show the eXile reader what these splalny rayon clubs are like.
Everywhere outside of the club is generously littered with empty cans and beer bottles. Not far from the entrance, I saw some local chicks getting drunk on Jaguars, Casanovas or other cheap but very smelly booze. We saw an underage girl freezing in just a shirt, as she tried lifting her mood by drinking Trophy, a kiosk drink-in-a-can that has twice the alcohol content as normal beer.
After a walk through endless dark corridors I met crowds of local characters. Most of the clubbers were high on "speed" so you could hear their bullshit about tripping or dancing while babbling to each other. Many of them were staring at depressing paintings on the walls which obviously were put up there to make this place look cultured.