I am the proud owner of a charming pet American.
I’ve often noticed that many foreigners in Russia have a pet Russian, I guess I did in the days before I knew that city and then, later, I had kids to go to the shops and so on.
So I knew that a pet American was a necessary part of the equipment I would need for this research trip. At first it seemed the closest I would come would be two Russians; one who had been in New York for a couple of years, understood the world and is astoundingly generous with his apartment and wifi and baking equipment, the other a 12 year old boy.
Oddly the ruthless efficiency you see in every taxi driver and Korean store owner extends to the US visa service.
So I am here with an American.
That changes everything: they know stuff about America.
Granted I could have found a more dynamic and organised American: one who owned a fleet of helicopters, and had fresh Alpine trout delivered each morning by stealth bomber, but they’re all twats the rich ones, and not having a twat around counts here.
Figuring out a new country is like doing a constantly shifting 3D jigsaw puzzle: having someone along who knows where most of the pieces go is invaluable.
K, my own American replaces all the helicopters and so on with a good brain, a sharp wit, and the knowledge of what exactly a Kmart is and why it might matter to someone. The fact that she’s as bumblingly idiotic as I am and laughs as uncontrollably at everything just adds to the joy.You need a guide to a big, new city.