On Monday, two days after the first pogrom, Marta and I went grocery shopping across the street. Moscow seemed unchanged. What caught my eye while we were waiting for green light was a young Central Asian migrant worker, who had a black ski hat on. One of the words on this hat was "олимпиада" (the Olympics), and I thought, "Wow, the 1980 Moscow Olympics, are they still selling this stuff?" And then I noticed two more words below "the Olympics": "Красная Поляна" (Krasnaya Polyana) - a place where some of the events of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are to take place.
My head is filled with those ugly pogrom images, and all those dirty chants, and those faces, and what I read online about it. But I haven't been around much lately, so a tiny part of me still doesn't believe any of it is for real. And I wish I could squeeze the rest of myself into this tiny part of me and live there. And somehow it helps to think about this gastarbeiter and his hat - it helps to pretend that I continue to stare at his hat, asking these questions: Is it a cheap fake hat that he bought at the market? Or did someone bring it to him all the way from Sochi? Or did he find it in a garbage container? Does he think it makes him look a little bit more like a Russian patriot? Does he think it makes him less of a target here? Or is it just a warm hat and he never thinks about it at all?