During our walk at Novodevichiy Monastery today, a spinsterish-looking woman came up to me and asked if I knew where Naprudnaya (Over-the-Pond) Tower was. I said I didn't, then tried to guess: I did know which direction the pond was, and there were only two or three towers to choose from there. Then I asked her why she was looking for it. She hesitated with the answer, but I thought that she hadn't heard the question and asked again. She told me, somewhat too seriously, out of shyness perhaps, that they say if you made a wish and touched the wall of that tower, the wish would come true.
She asked around some more and I did some thinking, too, and it turned out you had to walk outside the monastery to come close to the tower, and we went down to the pond together - and since I felt a little bit like an intruder, awkward, I decided to be the first one to do the silly ritual, to make the woman feel more at ease: I stepped away from the stroller and into the mud, and put my palms on the cold white wall, and stood there for half a minute or so, thinking frantically of a wish to make, ending up with two instead of one, laughing at myself all the while.
I walked away without saying good-bye to the woman - because it seemed like a polite thing to do in that context.
The pond still has some ice on it - enough to hold various kinds of garbage on the surface: bricks, for example, that must've been thrown into the lake by kids.
Naprudnaya Tower is on the right: