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Stilettoes in the Snow

One assignment took me to Astana in Kazakhstan – the first peace talks held by Russia to try and combat the Syrian conflict. I’d already experienced difficulties trying to negotiate sliding pavements covered in white dust hiding solid ice and I was struggling even with enormous grips on my knee high boots. I watched the women and men gracefully walk in the simplest of footwear as if they were gliding across a soft grass lawn. I am only able to survive the treachery if I walk like a snail, but the native Russians appear to have magic feet – what’s their secret? When I arrived for my four-day assignment in Astana, it was windy, cold, around minus twenty and my hands and feet were frozen to the bone after standing outside for a mere five minutes. I soon discovered that the minus twenty was in fact considered to be mild for the time of year, which was January, and that I apparently I had missed the cold snap of minus forty by a week. I smiled weakly, but in my head I was thinking “THANK GOD!”. Luckily for me, most of the assignment involved being indoors, but there was one moment where I thought – I really should have a half hour break and venture outside, walk to the closest coffee shop and grab a snack. “How adventurous I am”, I smugly thought. So, I piled on my five warm layers, grabbed a colleague and went outside. It was freezing. And very very slippy. My boots weren’t helping me to move quickly, so I was holding back my Russian colleagues who were being extremely patient, giggling at my uselessness. As we walked through the icy car park – and it was like an ice rink – I noticed a Kazakh women walk past me, at high speed, wearing a thin pair of jeans and a flimsy top, accompanied by 5-inch stiletto heels. And this is a common sight back in Moscow, women comfortably tottering around in high heels, no matter what the weather conditions might be. For their skill, and it is a skill, I can only feel envy and admiration. Do I care enough about fashion to follow suit? Absolutely no way. I’m going to continue to crawl around in my snow boots and praying that I manage to get from A to B in one piece.

I Wish !

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