I’m hard-pressed to think of a grimmer place than the hotel bar of the hotel I stayed in, located in what must have been the Moscow equivalent of Haje.

Much to my pleasant surprise, not _all_ of Moscow looks like Haje; some of it is quite nice. I spent some quality time people-watching one afternoon, and had a good time of it. I guess I was expecting a much bigger and meaner Bratislava, but I digress.

But back to the hotel. 22:30, and the clientele all male, and generally coherent. About ten tables, with usually two guys sitting face down at their tables.

In walked a woman in a white suit and those impossibly small Moscow heels. After a while she walked over to a guy who looked like he’d just gotten out of a mine, and the two of them lined up numerous vodka shots. I was impressed, as it looked like the drinking scene in Indiana Jones where Karen Allen shows how well she can put ’em back.

I went back up to my appropriately grim hotel room, only to get a call on the hotel phone a few minutes later.


“Huh? Hello? Do you speak English?”

“Hello comfort sex?”

“Uh, no thank you,” I said, only later realizing I’d used the tone I save for telemarketers and not Russian hotel prostitutes.

The next morning, I went back to the hotel bar – which was also the hotel cafe in daylight hours – only to find one of the guys still face down at one of the tables, with a curious puddle around his chair. The rest of the clientele – now in suits – gingerly stepped around it.