There are some places in Moscow which always make me think of Christmas, no matter what time of the year I happen to stumble upon them. The shopping window in the Old Arbat which you can see above is one of those places. It belongs to one of souvenir shops the street is filled with. The Old Arbat used to be the bohemian heart of Moscow, the place where all the poets of the Silver Age lived and worked, and where the kitchen in just about any flat could have been the very space where they living through their joys, disillusionments and depressions on one of the many posidelky (kitchen parties). Not much of the bohemian chic has survived the historical turmoil Russia has gone through since the time of Tsvetayeva and Akmatova, and the place is now mostly filled with tourists. This one shopping window, however, and the infallibly turning, delicate apparatus it displays, retain a spark of magic. I stopped by the place one gloomy afternoon last October, and this is what I saw:
Quite clearly, I am failing miserably at keeping up with my New Year’s resolution of writing here regularly. I still have six months to improve. In the meantime, here is a small note from a little holiday I went on a month and a half ago.
Russians are very big on their public holidays. They have plenty of them – and 1 May is definitely one of the most prominent ones. Having found myself with a couple of days off I got in the mood for an excursion – and, very unexpectedly, I went to St.Petersburg. Here is what I saw and heard there:
This is a sound postcard I recorded on Shchelkovskaya, to accompany the photographs you already had the chance to see. Enjoy.
My obsession with the Moscow metro does not seem to decrease with time – and I must say that it does not come as a surprise to me, since my life here is centred on the metro – the times when it opens and closes, the location of the stations, the intervals with which the trains depart. Moscow metro is an institution in itself, the most important means of transport, a major meeting point, a witness of history, a tourist attraction. When the metro is written or talked about, the focus is placed on the central stations – staple examples of stalinist baroque and carriers of last epoch’s propaganda, huge interchange hubs, filling up with crowds of people in the rush hours. The outlying, pragmatic stations come completely unnoticed – built much, much later, they sole function has always been to provide the districts of impersonal, gigantic blocks of flats with the essential connection with the world, not to emphasise the power of the empire. This is also where the mundane, everyday, ant-like life of the metropolis is staged, and just as the real Russia begins beyond the MKAD – real Moscow begins beyond the circle line.
After two long months spent on a sofa back at home with a leg in a cast (which did have its good sides), I am back to Moscow – with a new batch of enthusiasm and a new batch of ideas . I left a dark, gloomy city in the middle of winter, I came back to a city of blooming spring, with people in love kissing in the sunshine. Despite still not being able to walk normally, I enjoy the sunshine as much as possible. Tuesday brought me to VDNKH, my favourite park in Moscow, where the old and the new come toghether in the most unexpected ways. Here is what I saw and heard there:
Moscow has sucked me in and doesn’t let me go. Recently I’ve been leaving the house at 7 am and coming back at 9 pm. I barely even noticed that the festive season has begun. I don’t write, but I keep my eyes open an take out the camera more frequently than it would seem. There’s a lot of work in progress that hopefully I will soon share with the Readers, and, for now, let me present you with yet another installment of The Metro Chronicles.
While waiting for the hero to properly enter I would like to present the Readers with yet another installment of the Metro Chronicles.
As I have already mentioned before, the metro plays an absolutely crucial role in Moscow. Millions of people spend long hours there every day – and now I am one of them. Multiple rides constitute perfect circumstances in which to indulge in of my favourite hobbies – people watching. In this newly established series of articles I will share with the dearest readers whatever I happen to notice and deem worth sharing