My friend R has just came back from her trip back home in Russia. So I asked her how things are back home and she told him how hard life was there. People are working for long hours with little pay and are barely scraping through. One example she gave me was their trip to a bowling alley. The cost of renting a lane was EUR30 and that does not including the entrance fee (just to get into the facilities one has to pay!) and other incidentals like refreshments or shoes.
It was also her husband’s first trip to her homeland, as they had met in Syria and got married in Europe. H, her husband asked, who could afford such places when the cost is exorbitantly high. She pointed out to him the other patrons at the bowling alley, mainly big burly men with thick gold chains with young, thick made-up girl friends. Only the “businessmen” could afford to bring their girlfriends to hangout at such places while normal people would just peer in from outside.
R told me when she told her mum how much the outing to the bowling alley cost, her mum remarked that the amount they spent for that evening was equivalent to her monthly pension. Can you imagine, R told me that her mum spends 80% of her pension paying for just the basic electricity and water bills.
The transition from communism to free economy has hit the normal people the hardest it seems.
I guess the usual story goes, the rich gets richer while the poor gets poorer.
R was also suffering the blues since she came back. Her sentiments are often felt by us women when we get back here after a trip elsewhere. Because she suddenly remembered how good it was to have freedom and mobility, to have it all taken away in our life back in the gilded cage.
Yes life here is fairly good and comfortable. We have a bowling alley at our doorstep which we can use anytime without additional cost. But, all at the cost of the loss of our mobility and freedom.
I also updated her on the goings on in the compound while she was gone. And I related the story of one neighbour, who in the quest for her personal vengeance, had tried to close down the playgroup. Also, some of the rumours going on about some of our neighbours.
R said something which I thought was most profound, living in this closed gated community somehow can bring out the worst in people. Its like a test almost of who we truly are. The ones who are prone to be having affairs, would have one. The bored ones who like to gossip will do just precisely that. The rude and racists ones become more so. And some people just lose all ideas of what real life is all about.
The others, the ones who wouldn’t care less for the gossip and the affairs in the end just stay at home and make themselves busy.
And so our conversation ends. I was just so glad to see R back here again because I was just so tired of the gossiping and meddling women.
But I still am pondering, what has living here made me?