August 01, 1997

Moscow in Sunshine and Tears

Moscow in Sunshine and Tears

Что ни город – то норов.
So many cities, so many customs.

Russians would surely not refrain from applying the above saying to their capital, referred to as “my dear capital, my golden Moscow” (Золотая моя столица, дорогая моя Москва) in a famous song written in the 1950s. The City on the Seven Hills – город на семи холмах, i.e. Moscow, is not only famous for its nights (e.g., the famous song Evenings near Moscow – Подмос­ков­ные вечера) but also has its own customs and habits.

Muscovites are very proud of their city, some reckon presumptuously so. Russian rulers used to say “Москва – третий Рим, а четвёртого не будет” (“Moscow is the Third Rome, and there won’t be a fourth”). Visitors from the provinces like to take their Moscow cousins down a peg or two by calling them spoiled and arrogant. In return, Muscovites have christened such detractors лимитчики (from the word “limit,” for these visitors could only obtain temporary – or limited – employment and had to get a registration permit within a limited period of time). So, the лимитчики would come to work in Moscow, in search of that much-coveted Московская прописка (Moscow registration permit).

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