My Moscow – Krasina Street and Byelorussky Station

buildingWritten by - Marina Kashpar

I live and work in the centre of Moscow, although this is a rather flexible concept because the city itself is stretchable. My Moscow incudes places I can get to within an hour’s walk. The journey I want to tell you about is my 45-50 minute walk to work every morning.

I live in Sadovaya Kudrinskaya Street. My block is in the middle of a yard off the main road, a line of buildings completely blocks out the seething, boiling noise of Sadovaya Kudrinskaya. I wake up in the morning and going out through the arch onto the main road and once again realise that I am in the heart of vast city. I am hit by the pulse of low pitch horns – favoured by those who drive big black cars and police cars – various sirens used by others, melodies from mobile phones, which all merge together into a cacophony of sounds, into the sound of the city centre.

I love this large city sound. I love the rhythm of city life, the spontaneity and tension of every minute. In Moscow, just like in London, New York or Paris, you can just stand at a crossroad and watch as the kaleidoscope of city life twists and transforms in front of you.

signsBut all the same, I do have to get work on time. I turn onto Krasina street, away from the noisy town towards Byelorussky station. This street used to be called Zhivoderkoi, an old Russian word for knacker’s yard. There used to be slaughterhouses and meat stalls here on this street which lies just beyond the perimeters of the old city centre. As I walk past the meat shop ‘Myasov’, I imagine the steers tied up and frightened, how the smell of blood and fear lingered, although to be honest I only get these feelings during dark autumn or winter days when the mornings are always frosty and dark, and, walking purposefully to work (instead of being tucked up in my warm bed), I feel I am going to the slaughter house myself.

beggarKrasina street crosses Gruzinsky Lane – which is quiet, almost suburban; quite unlike the centre. But such serenity doesn’t last long, as the lane leads into Gruzinsky Val, which is in the vicinity of Byelorussky Station. Almost immediately, at the crossroads of these two streets the lively trading life of the station surroundings begin: small shops abound, where you can find everything from matches to fur coats, kiosks with cigarettes and newspapers, cheap books and magazines. By the station there is a market where street sellers flog a variety of goods on their stalls from sweets, to honey, toys, rugs and even bed linen. Here, in an inviting way, ‘people sandwiches’ advertise some product or other. These are people with huge pieces of hardboard with advertisements on them, strapped onto them, back and front. Traders, speculators, lure newly arrived people from the station to their dens, and all of this noisy, shoving, shouting crowd seems to move together as one whole. I always walk slowly by the station, firstly because you can’t walk quickly – there are so many people, and secondly, a woman’s curiosity forces me to linger at the stalls, scrutinise completely unnecessary knick-knacks; take aim for a totally useless yet fascinating Turkish consumer good, browse amongst the books. The delicious feeling of being at a market never leaves me.

streetI cross Leningradsky Prospect and enter the labyrinth of the Tverskaya-Yamskaya streets. Another 15 minutes and I am at work. The streets are boring, there is nothing to look at – mostly 1970-80s buildings, so in my mind, I am already at work. I work out what I have to do first, what I mustn’t forget to check, who I should phone… One more turn and I am on Pravda street. Curious that it is precisely on this street with its loud name (Truth!) that there are a multitude of buildings which have something to with big-time Russian mass media. Yet another of the paradoxes of modern Moscow.