I have been visiting all different parts of Moscow lately at the most unusual hours. One evening not long ago I found myself near Elektrozavodskaya, one of the many suburban train platforms. As I was emerging from the metro, this voice drew my immediate attention:
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:
Last Wednesday someone died in my presence. A man fell on the tracks right in front of an approaching train. I had my earphones in, I was looking the other way, I was wondering how late I would be for work. The whistling sound of the approaching train made its way through all the obstacles I placed for it, and so I started mentally preparing for the upcoming fight for a scrap of space in the train to fit myself and a book I was intending to read. It was about six in the afternoon, rush hour, crowds of people. Suddenly, the train which was supposed to slowly roll up the platform stopped in the middle of it. I slowly looked up from the phone. One of the metro conductors walked slowly past me, the other one was peeking out of his booth, with one leg already on the platform and the other still inside. A policeman appeared out of nowhere. I took the earphones out. – Meat – said the conductor on the platform – All that is left of him is meat, we need to call.
The platform started to fill with people, a couple of prying passers-by started peeking behind the edge of the platform. Someone who just a moment ago was a man suddenly turned into meat, and now also entertainment for the masses.