How could I forget to add this giant L to the list?! Here I am correcting the oversight..
If safety and reliability is your first concern picking him may is a plausible choice. On other counts his is, well, not exactly a winner. An old-school Russian born and formed in claustrophobic Brezhnev days, a killjoy grouch, an opinionated character who take advantage of his captive audience by inflicting upon them his barely intelligible diatribes, a negativist supreme.
In his younger days he used to be pretty good as an interpreter. Simultaneous was a piece of cake. Somehow he managed to be at ease with just about any subject, no matter how technical or obscure. You may still try to eek out some of his largely lost talent but be warned of his erratic performance that ranges from reading your thoughts and translating what you mean to say rather than what you actually do to translating verbatim with emphasis on your less fortunate phrases. He also has an outrageous habit of inserting his comments – usually of a disapproving or sarcastic sort – into the text.
The vehicle that I hesitate to call “car” is a perfect match to this character. It is something big and dull black, defiantly dirty and cluttered, going around with clicking noise that the owner insist in part of diesel’s nature but we more than suspect the motor needed an overhaul 300 th. miles back. Clutter of tools in the back and stuffed toys hanging all over the inside of the Mad Max style machine contribute to the profound absurdity of the experience.
Be warned that he will try to sell you his Russian Misery Travel (c) concept or his Winter is the Soul of Russia (c) brainchild. If he gets too aggressive in promoting ideas that to understand Russia one needs to freeze and otherwise suffer there is a simple trick to lower his zeal. Just cross yourself with one of the more popular guides to Moscow and quickly repeat “Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, Novodevichy, Abrat”. That usually gets him to retreat.