It’s been hot in Moscow. Russia’s heatwave even made the International Herald Tribune headlines this morning.
Heat in Moscow is different than the bright Mediterranean heat in Italy or the humid, palm tree greenhouse in Florida. Warm-climate countries specialize in dark, cool, tile-floor homes, and flowery balconies to catch the breeze.
Russians, on the other hand, aren’t really used to dealing with the relentless heat. Freezing cold, long winters, massive snowdrifts, and nostril-freezing wind chills – YES. Humidity, relentless sun, and melting asphalt – NO.
Russians have winter perfected to an art form – with their radiator-heated apartments, red carpeted walls, tea with lemon, and fur coat obsession. This summer heat wave, however, seems to have caught Muscovites by surprise. Stores have sold out of air conditioners, ice cream stands are gleefully raking in profits, the State Duma has cut down on their working hours, melting train tracks and asphalt are slowing transportation to a halt, and drown victims are reaching all-time records in the Moscow River. You can see it in people’s faces – the babushki especially in their pastel-flowered dresses, look startled on the top of the metro stairs, waving plastic fans, or unhappily deposited in sweltering heaps on park benches.
Economist husband and I have been hiding out in our air-conditioned living room eating ice cream for the past 3 weeks. There are no complaints here though – we’d much rather have sweltering heat and sunshine than cold, sleet and gloom!