Last night was an interesting night. As you all may know, I’m an English teacher here in Moscow, and my job primarily involves traveling around the city (which incidentally, is a great way to explore it). One of the companies whose employees I frequently work with is Yandex, aka the Russian Google. This week happens to be their 20th anniversary, and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is going to be visiting. Thus, security was jacked up like no other. Every single main entrance to Yandex was blocked off by metal fences and Kalashnikov-toting police, and I was told that employees had to carry their passports and work I.D.’s to get in. I mention this because it meant that getting inside the building for my lesson was a no-go; Yandex’s campus is spread over several buildings, but last night’s lesson was in the Mamontov complex, which isn’t where Putin was going to be. Consequently my student and I decided to take a 90 minute stroll around the neighborhood.
For starters, Yandex is located in the city center, in the southwest by Park Kultury; the surrounding neighborhoods are very cozy, so it’s always a fun time going there. It’s also an easy ten minute walk over the bridge from my personal favorite park, Gorky Park. While we didn’t walk to the park, we strolled further down the road from where we met, and ended up at Frunzenskaya metro station! Muscovite weather, in the best of times is inconsistent, and lately the weather’s been a bit wet. Thankfully, it was a perfect night, so we were able to take our time and just relax. I’m very thankful for not being cooped up in the office, because we both saw new things/explored more than we ever would have.
I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it, but maybe ten or so minutes into the walk, we passed by a military university. One thing I think is interesting about Russia is that universities are very open and just seem to be subtle about their entrances. I mean, this university was right by the road, and if it wasn’t for the presence of uniformed guards at the gate, you wouldn’t have known it was there! Seeing stuff like this is why I will always love walking around Moscow. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned this to anyone who will listen, there’s never not something new in the city, and it’s a pleasant surprise finding out what’s changed!
Eventually, we made our way back to Yandex after reaching Frunzenskaya. As we had about twenty-ish minutes to kill, we decided to walk by the river. As I’ve posted in the pictures below, Moscow River looks fantastic in the daytime, but this was the first time, in three years mind you, that I’ve been by it at night. Yeah, it’s alright. On the way back, we walked by the massive Ministry of Defense, which looked both intimidating and fascinating. Being from the Washington, D.C. area, you’re used to seeing the Pentagon. However, I would even go so far as to argue that the MoD looked bigger and more foreboding!
In terms of lessons, this was the single most unique one I’ve taught in my four years as an ESL teacher. At first, I was feeling nervous about teaching that lesson during the massive lockdown. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to chat and take in the sights. So I guess, thank you, President Putin!