Florist Gump

On our first morning in Moscow, Lila and I are left to our own devices because Julien is in Siberia for the week. We have zero food and zero utensils in the apartment, and no clue where to get them.

“Maybe… we order?” Lila suggests timidly, wringing her hands, the habit of Shanghai’s utterly convenient, ultra-fast delivery still fresh in her mind. I show her my watch: it’s 7 am.

We hang out until 8:30 am and then start the ritual of shrugging into our layers and pulling on our boots. GoogleMaps says there’s a grocery shop 5 minutes away. When we get there, the sign on the door reads OPEN 24/7.

We commence the ritual of grocery shopping for the first time in a strange land. We zoom in on the milk, water, muesli. We also get: sugar, salt, toilet paper, water, a local chocolate brand, a bunch of sad-looking grapes. Lila, who was rooting around the back of the shop, emerges triumphantly with plastic plates, bowls, cups and utensils.

I would get more, but this is a dinky little convenience store, and I’m saving the major haul for a bigger shop.


The next day I discover Azbuka Vkusa, which is the “big shop” I’ve been looking for. It’s open 24 hours as well. As it turns out, there’s an astonishing number of 24/7 establishments in Moscow. They include flower shops, convenience stores, cafés, and beauty salons (nail and hair).

The school moms tell me that it’s customary to offer flowers to your host when you’re invited over, which explains the 24-hour flower shops. And the salons? “Ah, the women here love to be beautiful,” one of them says. “They take comfort in the fact that they can get their nails done anytime they want.”

On the snowy walk back home, I spot a flower shop called Florist Gump. I smile the entire way back.

Currently listening to:
Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

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