Expat life can be difficult, exotic, plain boring or all of the above. I’ve been telling you a number of stories of my various (mis)adventures in different countries, and it’s time now to tell you something again about my life in the country in which I actually am expat-ing at the moment: Moldova, in Eastern Europe. So here is an example of one of my ordinary, lazy expat days in summertime Chisinau, the capital. Be warned, it’s shallow, but that’s me.
In Which I Get My Toes Done
It’s a beautiful sunny June morning and I stroll over to my Salon de Frumusete for a pedicure. It’s summer, you need pretty toes. They love pretty toes here in Moldova, so I cannot stay behind.
My Romanian is pathetic, my Russian non-existent and my beautician’s English is barely there. So, instead of a chatty therapy session in which we discuss the heartbreak of nail fungus, our food addictions and the curse of corruption, it will be a quiet time of rest, relaxation and meditation.
She settles me in a comfy seat in a small individual treatment room and I lower my feet in a foot spa with lurid lime-green water. Then she flees.
I’m left alone for more than ten minutes which gives me ample opportunity to study my little cell while my feet soak. It’s tastefully appointed in gray and silver and offers a shelf with various knick knacks among which a bloated frog of toxic green glass. It stares at me. I stare back. It’s perching on the edge of the shelf as if ready to take a leap and land in my lap.
Eventually the pedicurist comes back and starts working on my toes. She says nothing. I say nothing. I watch her work. God gave her a mousy face, but she’s made the most of it with makeup and hairstyle. They know how to do that here in Moldova, and I admire that. I’ve no talent for making-the-most-of-myself, so I struggle through life as my mediocre self. It’s sad, I know.
Eventually I walk out of the salon with lovely blue toe nails. Why blue, you ask? Just ‘cause.
One thing is for sure, I’ll never make a living as a foot model. Fortunately I don’t have to.
I stroll back home along he shady Chisinau streets. I stop at my neighborhood magazin alimentar (grocery store) to buy some kefir which comes in cartons, like milk. I love kefir. It’s a cultured milk product like yogurt, but better. If you’ve never had it, try it.
For lunch I have a glass of it along with a bowl of raspberries which you buy here by the kilo for the price of onions. As I eat I watch
the news on CNN What (Not) to Wear. I hate that show. I’m sure they’d tell me my blue toe nails are not age appropriate.
In Which I Go to My Book Club Meeting and Drink Wine
In the afternoon I go to my Book Club meeting. We’re a small group of expat women of various nationalities. Once a month we meet at the house of one of our members.
I arrive and take off my shoes. It’s what you do in Moldova. We say hello, kiss, hug and get settled. We discuss several books, talk about war crimes, about having multiple wives, and about gory childbirth details. All the while we snack on rose petal turnovers, sip yummy Moldovan wine, and admire each other’s toes.
Afterward I walk home, accompanied part of the way by two friends. The weather is perfect. We’re cruising through a friendly residential neighborhood, but the broken sidewalks are ankle-breakers and the weeds grow abundantly in unkempt patches of dirt along the streets. But even weed(s) can be interesting, so I take a few photos. And yes, it is what you think it is, at least so says one of my friends who points it out to me. And no, I’m not picking a bouquet.
At home again, I check my email, make a salad for dinner later and shower. It’s only five thirty, but it’s time for our masseuse to arrive for our weekly massage.
In which I Have an Hour-long Massage in My Own Home
Don’t you just love having a massage? It’s so relaxing. All your stress just melts away. Unfortunately, having one in the US or Western Europe costs you half your retirement pension. The other negative of those expensive stroke-and-knead fests is that afterward you have to get dressed, climb in your car and drive home. By the time you’ve battled the rat-race traffic, done your shopping on the way, picked up the dry cleaning, and arrive home, you’ve run out of serenity is and you’re ready to have a full-blown stress attack all over again.
But here in Moldova, we have a young masseuse with steely fingers who comes to the house, gives me and my prince a long massage, and then departs. We’re left behind, semi-asleep, all greased up with no place to go.
Life is good.
P.S. There are other days, not quite like this one.
Tell me about your mellow shallow days, wherever you are. Never have one? Clearly you are a better person than I.