Onochie Anibeze’s Diary from Moscow
Cosmos Hotel is one of the best hotels in this city of Moscow. It is huge. It is magnificent and beautiful. It has 1,640 rooms on a massive 25- floor architectural masterpiece. It’s hospitality knows no bounds. Limousines line up for hire. There are more than 20 of them waiting for hire at every time.
From cool lobby music in the day to the live shows that transport people into a mood to call for more drinks at night. You just find it soothing after the different large screens would have finished live transmission of the events at the Moscow Olympic Stadium where the 14th edition of the World Athletics Championships are taking place. When the atmosphere thrills and the guests are high, there are equally ‘high’ places to cool off here.
There are night clubs, Kareoki and strip dancing clubs in this hotel. In these clubs, sex traders, with class, signal you for a massage. But they do it with class and everything about this hotel is about class. The girls are beautiful, some of them extraordinarily alluring.
Their trade is legalised here, so they have the right to source resourceful clients. After all, they pay tax and this probably accounts for their charges which are higher than those of Western Europe. Cosmos is a hub of activities. The interesting news is that it is in this same hotel that IAAF quarters majority of the teams and their officials here. It is sports in the day and fun at night.
It is believed that the athletes are professionally minded and should be able to conduct themselves professionally. Nobody is complaining. In fact, the delegations are enjoying it. As I write this at the lobby of the hotel, with some combination of rock and country music providing inspiration, the sea of guests angling for different action add to the poetry that is Cosmos .
And when the group played Hey Jude, a popular track by the Beatles and followed with Wonderful Woman by Nat King Cole and some tunes from Luis Amstrong and Ray Charles, an Italian official told his colleague to my hearing that “I need a sex massage tonight.”
Cosmos is extremely cosmopolitan and providing succour to all here including journalists who make use of the wi-fi and refuse to leave the hotel even when they are not writing or sending stories. Ask them why and they will quickly tell you that aside the stadium, Cosmos is the place to be.
They could be right. That is the right place to interact with athletes and get stories. That’s equally the place to get high. All work without play makes …
A black stranger in Moscow
I arrived here in Moscow two days after the 14th edition of the World Championships kicked off, no thanks to the flu that compelled me to re-schedule my flight.
Everybody for the championships was already either at the Olympic Stadium or in his designated hotel. It was possibly why I was the strange fellow on arrival at the airport in Moscow that Monday, August 12 afternoon at the airport, better put, the odd man out.
The British Airways flight from London was a full flight. One or two airlines had landed almost at the same time. So, the arrival hall was full, perhaps more than seven hundred people.
I was the strange guy because I was the only black in the entire arrival hall. The immigration staff that attended to passengers on the long queue where I found myself robbed it in when his countenance changed on my turn.
Before then, the man attended to every other passenger with ease and respect. Stamping of passports was fast. But on sighting me, it all changed. A black man is here. Spirit don come.
He checked my passport, looked at me and started making calls before he proceeded to screen my document the way he never did to others before me. He asked me questions he never asked others. I boldly frowned at him and twitched my face mockingly or rather scornfully.
In seconds, I quickly remembered that when Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup rights, racism became an issue. A group even openly said that they would not welcome blacks and Balotelli, the black Italian, quickly reacted, saying that he would kill someone in Russia if any one abused him racially.
We are here for the World Championships for athletics, a sport that has almost zero record of violence, the type associated with football. And all the volunteers have been nice to visitors including the blacks that the championships forced on them.
Ordinarily, you don’t see them here. So far, it’s been good and interesting covering the events here but the immigration man reminded me of the banana-throwing fans in football stadiums here. The few black players in Russia would tell the story better.