Friday, February 6, 2009

From Ruski With Love

I had a night out with some colleagues at the bank last week who were over from Moscow, and opted to take them to an excellent Russian restaurant over in Chelsea called Nikita's. It's rather like taking an American to the Texas Embassy Cantina I suppose, but I couldn't resist getting their opinion on London's alleged best for Russian cuisine. Sadly none of this is on expenses anymore - a tragic sign of the times.

Actually we had an excellent evening, and I was introduced to their nectar of choice - a fantastic vodka called 'Ruski Standard Platinum' (aka 'Russian Standard' over here). Apart from eating the finest beef stroganoff I have ever tasted, on the recommendation that "it will make it easier for you in the morning" (presumably because it is such a heavy, rich dish), we polished off two full 75clr bottles of Ruski between the four of us, and it took restraint not to order a third. [note: I have just ordered 4 bottles - a couple as gifts I might add]
To my surprise I not only slept fine, but woke up without the slightest hint of a hangover. This could be my new tipple of choice now that I'm getting a bit too old for beer. Let's face it, lager in particular is devil's piss by comparison to fine wine and spirits, and with the added bonus that it wakes you up throughout the night to continually empty your bladder.

As usual, once we had got through the first bottle, we moved away from tedious work discussions such as the Desk performance (bad), and rumours about job cuts (very bad, for an emerging market heavily reliant on commodities for revenue), and onto the requisite exchange of office stories that can only ever be passed on verbally. On the subject of job cuts, it has already occurred to me that I cannot refer to any details around the timing of the impending cull, because it will be too indicative of where I work. As such I shall likely write some entries at the time but not publish them until some time afterwards.

The best story of the night for me was finding out that one of the senior traders I know on the Moscow desk, whom we call Shriek due to her piercing voice, has a husband known in the office for his odd behaviour that verges on psychosis. He apparently calls Shriek at the office 30 times a day, and it has got to the extent that her team has learned his number and filters it out where possible.

It is presumably jealousy, as Shriek's psycho husband even went so far as accusing her of having an affair with one of my colleagues (at Nikita's with me that evening). Shriek's husband had 'proof' - namely that my colleague's wife "told him of the affair". Since both Shriek and my colleague knew this was utter fantasy, rather than her assuming she had a husband who was bonkers, she decided it was a plot by my colleague to ruin her marriage - and aggressively confronted him in the office.

It ended up escalating until even the regional head MD got involved.. before being hastily covered up. From what I hear, they are now quietly compiling a dossier on Shriek for a range of her own odd activity. This one will doubtless be tucked away in her HR file for use at an appropriate time. Like a round of job cuts for example.

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I'm always interested in what you have to say, in particular negative opinions so feel free to post an insult or two here. Emerging Investor