Here are a few random observations from my first couple of days in Moscow:
Moscow has a lot of nice cars. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any car washes. The streets are filled with nice Mercedes and BMWs, but they're all sort of grimy. I think there's a killing to be made in the Moscow car wash market, if you can convince the Russians that they should wash their cars.
There are guards everywhere. It seems that every store or restaurant of any quality has at least one big guy standing in the doorway looking tough. I can't believe that crime is really that bad, but it gives everyone a job at least. Even TGI Fridays has one, though he's wearing a suit, and is about half my size.
Pedestrians do not have the right of way. I about got mowed down by a hatchback crossing the road to the art gallery earlier today. We were on a quiet back street, there hadn't been a car along in at least 2 minutes, and I was casually sauntering across the road, when I heard a loud screech behind me, and turned to see a car about 5 feet from my legs. Now, granted, I wasn't paying attention, but the way the alley was built, the driver had to see me at least 100 meters in advance. In any case, lesson learned, don't mill about in the street.
Sidewalks are not necessarily any safer. The sidewalks in Moscow serve as alternate parking facilities. Throughout the city, cars are haphazardly parked on the street in parallel, on the street diagonal, half on the street, half on the sidewalk, and completely up on the sidewalks. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to where you can park on the sidewalk, nor any penalty for doing so, as far as I can tell. Outside the window here, I see 6 cars, 4 are parked diagonally on the street, 1 is parked with the front wheels 2 feet on the sidewalk, and 1 is parked completely on the sidewalk. I don't think I'd get away with this on campus.
Nearly everyone smokes here. I've probably second-hand smoked 2 packs already. There are warnings on the cigarettes, but apparently no one cares. They're more alarming than the ones in the U.S. too. One said "Smoking Kills". Simple, and to the point. Another one said "Smoking may damage your sperm and reproductive organs". Uh, okay...