There is a proud tradition of constructing strong and sturdy buildings in Russia. From the thick brick and mortar stability of the Kremlin to the massive concrete and steel "Seven Sisters" that ring Moscow to the vastness of the elegant and impressive Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia has demonstrated throughout history that she can build.
So why, then, am I in the only building in all of Russia that might possibly have been imported from, say, China?
The building I live in is nearly 20 stories tall, and each floor has four apartments tucked into the east side of the building (the west side is a garbage chute and stairs). The elevator ride to my floor is a bit scary, but the ride down to the first floor is a hell-raising venture! The elevator doesn't sit on it's tracks well and wobbles violently from side to side if the passengers aren't perfectly balanced. Sometimes it stops at random floors; other times it just loses power and stops!
If Mr. Irish and I are using any combination of appliances that draw more than 5 amps the breakers switch off and we lose power in our apartment. Just to clarify how much 5 amps is, if we are cooking something on the stove and turn on the electric kettle at the same time, we lose power. In these cases one of us grabs the flashlight my mother gave me before I left for Russia, wrestles with the jailers keys to get out of the door, and then enters the common hallway where the fuse box is. We then take our life in our own hands as we poke our finger through a mass of disorganized wires to flip a little plastic switch with the fingertip. Amidst a burst of sparks the power comes back on.
These things, however, are expected in Russia and I can live with them. What I can't live with is the drunken goon who occupies the flat above us.
The walls to our flat are pure concrete and are so strong that I can't nail anything into them. The floors seem to be made out of plastic wrap. Right above us lives a man and a woman. There might possibly be a child (in addition to the man) but I'm not sure. I do know that the guy upstairs has no job because he is home all day and all night. Mr. Irish and I also suspect that he's not Russian because we can hear him talking (all the time) and it's not a language we recognize. Katerina confirmed this, as well. In fact, I don't think he speaks any language known to humans on earth.
He has a deep, mumbling, slurring voice that sounds as if though he were always drunk. Better yet, he sounds as if though we live below Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh, except that Tigger is always drunk AND has down's syndrome.
Tigger has a routine that he follows every day. Tigger is always yelling at his wife. He yells and and shouts and generally treats her like crap. He spends his mornings singing drunken songs and banging his fist in rythm on a table. He then starts a construction project, drilling and hammering above my bedroom while blaring bad Russian pop music, usually beginning around 10 am but sometimes as early as 6. This goes on until the early afternoon when he begins to vomit disgustingly loud with floor-shaking convulsions. Mr. Irish gets the bulk of the vomit noises from his bedroom. Sometime in the evening he passes out for an hour or two before waking up and screaming at his wife a bit more. At night he has a friend over and they blare music and drink and yell above my room (on Sunday night that lasted until 4 am).
This unemployed drunken wife-abusing idiot is quite possibly the worst neighbour I have ever had to endure, and I am powerless to do anything about it. After our Halloween party Mr. Irish and I were told that our neighbours could complain all they want about us but we had no rights to complain about them because we were foreigners and the school has a good deal on our flat.
The only thing I can hope for is that Tigger, in a drunken fit, accidentally drills a hole in his head and dies. Then I'll sleep peacefully.