Lena Melnikova: Dark rumours in a city suffering a nightmare of heat and smog

Share
Related Topics

For weeks now, life in Moscow has been like living on the set of a Tarkovsky film. We haven't seen blue skies for ages – just various shades of a bright-greyish nightmare. But yesterday was the worst ever. I did not want to get out of bed to face another obnoxiously hot morning. Overnight, the wind blew more smoke in from the blazing forests and moors around the city. The smog settled among the trees and apartment blocks, obstructing the sun and views of distant buildings.

The smell of burning gets into your clothes, hair, even the furniture and curtains. It makes your throat itch and eyes water. Most people are coughing, complaining of headaches and nausea. The carbon monoxide level was 10 times above normal yesterday. No one knows what the health implications are.

But it's the only topic of conversation. The shops have sold out of air-conditioning units and fans and no one knows when more are due in. Even our pets are suffering – I try and walk my dog, but it's sad to see her snuffling around in the dead grass, with no fresh air. At home, she lies around listlessly.

In offices, no one bothers about a dress code anymore – it's all mini-skirts and shorts, see-through tops and flip-flops. The latest fashion is for face masks like the ones people donned during the bird and then swine flu panics. This time, we need them.

Ironically, when the heatwave hit first, we Muscovites kept complaining about the Tube being too stuffy – but nearly six weeks on it's an underground oasis, a smog-free microclimate. Before, we relished the summer as an opportunity to get out of our cars. Now, we relish sitting in the ones with air-conditioning, some of us talking about sleeping in them.

Little work is being done. Some bosses are allowing people to finish early. But who wants to leave an air conditioned office for the melting asphalt and the smoking hot shoebox of a home?

It's a miracle the city continues: no power cuts, no major fires, no mass heart attacks, no panic.... but this being Russia, there are dark rumours. The latest is that the Americans are testing their new climatic weapon on us. Some things here never change – whatever happens, blame the Americans.

And now the poor confused weather guys cannot even promise any relief for the next few weeks. God, have mercy on us.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are less likely to become scientists and engineers  

International Women's Day: How much could be achieved if we scrapped the idea of 'male' jobs?

Anne Richards
Dame Maggie Smith stars in Downtown Abbey as Countess Violet  

We need to see Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon on stage again

David Lister
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable