Russia? Not Surprised!

I am unsurprised at the problems of the visitors and journalists covering the Olympics at Sochi.
 
It is, after all, Russia.
 
I have not been back to Russia since the late 80s, but I was in the best Moscow hotel — built by Finnish workers, but then maintained (or not…mostly not) by Russians.
 
I was traveling with my newspaper Editor and the Producer of my TV show — both beautiful women– and we checked into the Cosmos hotel about 2 am, and after looking at my bathroom, which looked like it had hosted a herd of cows and not been cleaned. I headed down the hall to my friend’s room only to meet them coming to my room, to see if MY bathroom was as bad as THEIRS!
 
The place was the pits! I was in the elevator at 7 am going to the lobby to meet my friends to take a morning walk, and next to me in the elevator was a tall Englishman, who looked at me and said, “Yank, huh? How long you been here Yank?”
 
I told him I had just arrived.
 
“What do you think of the place, Yank?
 
I told him that I thought it was the “pits.”
 
He laughed! “I have been here six months, Yank! This is Moscow, Yank, and THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT’S GOING TO GET!”
 
He was right!
 
I am certain the Finns built a grand hotel, but the Russians had not maintained it. We noticed in the lobby when we arrived that there panels hanging from the ceiling — that should have been a clue, but in those days the Cosmos was where all tourists were housed. Since we were all media people — so-called “opinion molders” we assumed that the Russians were putting their best foot  forward.
 
This WAS their best foot!
 
As we were checking in, we were sent from the desk to a kiosk in the center for our keys. The desk did check-in, but a separate desk gave out keys. This was the Russian method to insure full employment, but my friend, Commander Pete Bucher survivor of the USS Pueblo asked for a separate key so he and his roommate could come and go separately.
 
The Babushka behind the second desk, dressed exactly as your minds-eye pictures her, pulled herself up to her full 5′ height (and weight), and announced in a loud voice the words repeated by everyone in the group when we encountered bureaucracy(soften):
 
“VONE RRRROOM, VONE KEY!”
 
Russia has always been a Third World nation, but it gets a seat at the table because it has nuclear weapons.
 
What it didn’t have while we were there, was running hot water in hospitals…or clean restrooms anywhere.
 

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