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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Reflections on Nine Years
Text Fred Flintstone

It was just nine years ago this month that Fred, Wilma, and Fred Jr. moved into their newly renovated flat northwest of Bedrock’s Garden Ring near the river. Wilma inherited the flat from her grandfather who, a veteran who had received it from the state during the building boom of the 1950s.

Now, 10 years after the Financial Crisis of 1998, with the country ensnared in the World Financial Crisis of 2008, Fred reflected on the changes in his neighborhood since the Flintstones moved in. Despite the economic parallels between then and now, the developments in the area around the Flintstone abode over the decade in between reflect the tremendous modernization Moscow has seen in this short time.

When the Flintstones moved in, their neighborhood was still a backwater with the nearest metro station five trolleybus stops away in either direction. The only sign of modern society between those two metro stations was, thankfully, a McDonald’s that the Flintstones could see from their kitchen window.

The nearest supermarket was a Ramstore, a half-hour bus ride away. At the time, the Turkish-owned chain provided the only real supermarkets in the city apart from a couple of Stockmanns — Sedmoi Kontinent, Perekryostik, Azbuka Vkusa, Billa, Ashan, etc. had hardly or not yet appeared. So, for groceries and household goods, the Flintstones relied on two nearby Soviet-style shops — the kind that used an abacus to tally the bill and where Wilma would have to ask the shop clerk to take down the family purchases from items displayed behind the counter. A little further away there was a small, cramped indoor market.

Fred Jr. was eligible for the city’s free milk program. Wilma insisted that Fred get up early two days a week to pick up the milk, kefir, and tvorog that she and her mother believed was the absolute best quality (the city would, of course, never give its children anything but). On the weekends the Flintstones would take a trolley excursion to a small semi-modern supermarket.

Soon the first supermarkets began to appear in the neighborhood; today there are two Sedmoi Kontinents, a Billa, and a Pyatyorochka all within two kilometers of the Flintstones’ door. One of the relic shops has been replaced with a convenience store, though the other one still exists, as does the open market.

A modern auto parts store opened across the street just before Fred first took to Bedrock roads in his new Zhiguli (thankfully, since the Zhiguli would make Fred a regular customer). While the modern the auto parts store resembles its counterparts elsewhere, it does have two features particular to the Bedrock market: armed security guards and stock displayed in glass-enclosed shelves that must be unlocked by a salesperson.

There were no real aptekas (pharmacies) in the Flintstones’ neighborhood; now there are at least half a dozen within a kilometer. As to restaurants, in contrast to the time when McDonald’s was it, today there are two Il Patios, two Planeta Sushis along with three other chain sushi restaurants, a Rostiks, and a recently opened Novikov pub a hundred meters away.

Out the Flintstones’ back window, a new highway is pushing through. The small forest behind was cleared last year and replaced with a small village of container housing for the guest workers from Central Asia. Traffic is backed up morning and evening.

After nine years of promises, Bedrock’s city fathers have finally issued documents necessary to demolish the Flintstones’ building and give them and their neighbors new and bigger apartments. However, Wilma and her mother are not so sure this time that the city would give the Flintstones anything less than the absolute highest quality.

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