Russia, September 28, 1999
With all the dust and notice, you'd forget there is a crisis on!Its 9am on a Saturday morning, and I am wide awake. I was not planning on being in this state, at this hour on a Saturday, but the sound of a pneumatic chisel hitting the pipes that run by my bed was hard to ignore. My housemates and I are in the vortex of the Moscow living curse, remonting.
All over this city, in more apartments than I can imagine, the new wealth of Moscow is showing itself in the apartments of the lucky and the smart. The New Russians are buying big, roomy, but dilapidated apartments in the center of the city. Once they have an apartment with a great view and tons of room, they gut the apartment to the very support structure. All is tossed, from the worn doors to the beautiful Soviet furniture, and its replaced with the best that Russian kitsch can produce.
A bit of a mess!
Granted that the Russian may not have a lifetime of IKEA exposure to orient them to good taste, but usually the remonts are not even close to good taste. Unfortunately, our apartment is no exception. We have wall to wall carpets covering beautiful wood floors, bedroom walls covered in full-length mirrors, and a budeau in the bathroom! A little over the top, but at least its not like some apartments I've seen where a waterfall in the living room is the center of attention.
So now, I have two new neighbors. An interesting young couple bought the apartment below us, and so far they have torn out the entire inside of the apartment, and now are building an amazing love nest. I haven't seen the inside since it was a shell, but I have glimpsed the arches and such they are building. The apartment on the other side of the podyez is also under remont, for the Director of a large Moscow company whose name I forgot. In his apartment, the workers are cutting a hole in the wall to make a balcony! Gotta love people with more money than they know what to do with.
Remonted all the way to the superstructure!
All this remonting is doing an interesting thing to the real estate market. The price of large, unfurnished apartments climbs steadily, while the price of remonted apartments drops. Seems everyone wants to have their own styled apartment, and are unwilling to pay for someone else's dream pad.
Ok, they have started banging on the pipes again. I can't take this at 9 in the morning, but I am not about to follow in my housemate's thoughts and actually ask, "I wonder what the laws are on when to start working?" This is Russia!