Tag Archives: Russia

Vegetarian in Moscow: A New Russia

When I left Moscow in 2003, it was hard enough to order a salad with no meat let alone find a veggie burger in Moscow. Thankfully, times have changed.

There are now not only places to find vegetarian food, but also growing online communities to help the vegetarian in Moscow.Even regular supermarkets carry vegetarian lasagna, cutlets, burgers, etc.

Jagannath [my city-pick favourite!] locations have full vegetarian/vegan restaurants with small shops selling everything from meatless foods and supplements to all-natural soaps & toothpaste. And the Vegetarian Card gives members discounts to vegetarian-friendly businesses around the city.

Most mainstream restaurants have a way to go before I’d call them vegetarian-friendly. But Moscow is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

Returning To Russia

Of all the places I’ve visited, the only other place that has moved me & shaped my life as much as Russia has been Tibet. And maybe I’ll go back there someday. But right now: I’m moving back to Moscow.

Since finding out I’d been hired in Russia, I’ve had three types of responses when I tell people the news:

  • Outright baffled: “Oh, I don’t really know anything about Russia”
  • Outright confused: “Why on Earth would you want to go there?”
  • Outright overjoyed: “Oh my gawd that’s so exciting! Russia!”

Darren Logo

It’s been a decision fraught with self reflection. I’ve been slightly torn because I’m very well aware that I’m not skipping into a rainbow-covered land of unicorns, to put it lightly. But it’s a nation with an amazing history and a currently political climate that I find fascinating, with all it’s complexities.

Red Square & MeAbove all, ever since I reluctantly left Moscow in the winter of 2003, I’ve vowed to go back to live & work some day. I don’t have many regrets in life. But I know that if I didn’t give Russia one more chance, I’d get to the end of my life, look back, & regret that I didn’t at least give it a shot.

So here I am giving it a shot. 36 years old. A new teacher. And moving from Toronto to Moscow.

If you’re one that said “Oh I don’t really know anything about Russia” or “why on Earth would you want to go there” or “oh my gawd, that’s so exciting! Russia!” Follow along and I’ll do my best to show what my life there is like.DSC01232

People who have never been to Russia tell me that Russians don’t smile or laugh. But I know that they do. And I’ve seen them myself. And I look forward to more.

Sign to Help Stand Against Brutal anti-gay murders on the rise in Russia

Anyone who knows me knows my love and fascination toward Russia, my second Mother Land. Living in Moscow was my first big international adventure and the experience opened my eyes to both beautiful and brutal things in our world.

Unfortunately, under the present Putin regime, there is more of the “brutal” going on in Russia in right now and it is only going to get worse. Information, publications, and educational materials that mention homosexuality are now considered gay propaganda in Russia. Possession and/or distribution of such material is now considered a criminal offense.

Please click the image below to sign the AllOut form to voice your opposition to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws:

My Marred Motherland

I used to call Russia my Motherland because I had such a connection to it and its people when I lived in there in 2002-2003. I met people whose outlook on life and the world changed my own thinking of the world and my place in it. And so I am deeply saddened by the recent (or ongoing) descent within its social structure.

Last week there was a brutal torture murder of a 23 year old gay man in Volgograd. The details are too horrific to repeat, but the rise in homophobic violence in Russia seems to be heightened by the nation’s homophobic government administrations:

  • There are bans against gay news or “propaganda”
  • President Putin has overseen a religious revival of the Orthodox Church, whose leader suggests that homophobia is one of the greatest threats to Russia.
  • Every year since 2006, Moscow authorities have refused to authorize gay pride parades/marches

And now a new book by award-winning journalist Oliver Bullough investigates why Russia is dying from within: “driven by toxic levels of alcohol abuse, Russia is also battling a deeper sickness: a spiritual one, born out of the country’s long totalitarian experiment.”

And another Russian fact in Macleans magazine this week: Russians are five times more likely to die of “external” causes (murder, suicide, drowning, car crashes) than West Europeans.

I was in Russia last summer and I know it’s not all bad. There is good and beauty all over the place. But so many of my young friends, especially my gay Russian friends, just want out. I think it speaks volumes when people want to do anything to leave their home, their motherland.

Ten years ago while living in Moscow I remember saying: give it a generation. Young people will come around to accepting homosexuality…..I’m starting to think it will take longer. But I’m hopeful that it will happen.

Return to the Motherland: A Decade After First Touching Down in Russia, I Return to the Country I Fell in Love With

My Room

This is me a decade ago in my apartment in Moscow, flanked by Russian chocolate and a crap-load of the Russian pop music that I fell in love with. I had just turned 23 and had no idea what to expect. What I got was an experience that changed me & has kept me intrigued with this nation ever since.

Now, almost to the very day 10 years later, I’ll be returning to Moscow. I’ve been there since, but this decade-mark seems a little more meaningful for some reason.

Привет, Москва!

Cheated of Childhood: Russia’s Orphans & Street Kids

I watched this YouTube video months ago & I can’t tell you how upset & saddened I was by it. I found out that stories like that of Max & Yuri’s are, unfortunately, quite common in Russia today, despite the fact that the video is dated. It hurts to see such potential in these boys gone to waste because they have no one to care for them. You can click on the link here to watch it. It’s about 20min long but if you can make it to the end when Yuri visits his grandmother’s house and gives his final little monologue at the end, I think you’ll see it’s worth it. Totally heartbreaking. But worth it:
 And if you’re capable and willing to help OR would just like to learn more: I’ve found an organization that helps orphans in Russia and the Ukraine. Click on one of the logos below:


A Return To My Motherland!

After 4 1/2 years I FINALLY made it back to Moscow, the city where I lived for 4 months in 2002/03 performing with “42nd Street.” Well hell: it was about time! I loved this city then and I love this city now!
I was able to see some of my old friends and make a few new ones along the way! I saw a few of my favourite spots & a few places I had never seen before.
Gawd….I can’t wait to go back!