March 27, 2003 Tver, the City of Beautiful Women

Posted in Rodger's Russia Book | Posted by rodger |

We are in Tver. Leo and Marina came up to Moscow for two days and we returned to Tver with them yesterday. We are returning to Moscow in a few hours. There is a commuter train from here to Moscow that costs about $1.50 for the two and a half-hour trip – or more accurately – WOULD cost $1.50 if they had not canceled 4 of the 8 scheduled trains. This means that the few trains still running are not at the times we need and will be standing room only. Russians will sell a ticket for train where you have to stand up for 3 hours – no problem. When Larisa asked the “nice woman” behind the counter if the trains were running, she said “I can’t be bothered with all this crap, look at the damned board!” No wonder they’re all pissed off all of the time.

In a few hours we will be picked up by the driver that we hired and be taken on the three hour trip for 1000 rubles – about $30.00

Tver is very different from Moscow. Out here people claim that Russia plans to put an Embassy in Moscow so that they will have embassies in all nearby foreign countries.

Prices are about half of Moscow prices, and we are staying in luxurious three room suite for $80 a night. It has a large bedroom, a dining room complete with luxury furniture, and a living room. I would have booked a smaller room, but in Moscow any room under $120 is a pigsty. I thought that we were taking a chance on even booking an 80-dollar hotel.

This is medium sized college town. It has a concert hall, movie theater, library, and several universities, but it still looks like Tijuana. Leo says that the city is improving at an astonishing rate, but the pavements are still dirty and cracked and up close the buildings are in bad need of paint and plaster. Beautiful buildings but…. Apparently there was no money for maintenance during the last ten or fifteen years of communist rule and the buildings show it.

The old “who gives a damn” attitude still rules most common Russians. They put a brand new entry door in Leo’s apartment building a few weeks ago. A few days later someone ripped up the padding on the inside of the door. It’s like a world populated by juvenile delinquents who never pick up after themselves.

Tver has central heat like Moscow. I learned how they regulate the utility usage. If your block uses too much hot water, the central station cuts you off without warning – for a few hours or days or a week. When we got up this morning, we found out why our luxury suite had very nice electric heaters in every room.

On the other hand, I treated Leo and Marina to breakfast in the hotel restaurant. We had several small cheese and ham sandwiches (Russians call it “butter bread”), sausage, Lox, some caviar on toast, tea, coffee, pastries – and a bill for $4.00

There are several dating agencies in town, including the one that introduced Leo to Marina. The local legend says that they are here because of Tver’s second name, “The City of Beautiful Women”. It was so known, it is said, because the major industry even before socialism was cloth manufacturing. The industry attracted thousands of young country girls into town to work the looms, resulting in a century long surplus of women. I don’t know about the truth of the legend, but there is enough pulchritude in town to get a married man in trouble just for looking.


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