Monday, November 10, 2008

Moscow, the weekend of Nov. 8-9:

- No sign of the crisis at the huge shopping mall next to Kievskiy Vokzal: a usual crazy mess and endless lines to the fitting rooms at Zara, Pull and Bear, and Bershka stores. This place would be the last one to go under, I guess. Though, who knows.

- A printout of a missing person on a light pole just outside the shopping mall: a rather beautiful face of a native of Karachay-Cherkessia, "a Mongoloid type of appearance," born in 1989, last seen near the shopping mall on Oct. 25, around 6 AM. As I look at this boy's photo, I feel electrocuted by the memory of papa and everything that happened last summer. I also feel helpless, the way many people must have felt in Kyiv as they looked at papa's photo in those two horrible weeks: no way to remember an average-looking face well enough, no way to be able to compare it to the hundreds of similar faces that you pass in the street every day.

- A young jerk standing behind me on a subway escalator says to his friend: "One thing I don't understand is why no one is beating the crap out of all these blacks." The other guy replies: "Yeah, it sucks." I make a few dozen steps down the escalator, to get them out of my hearing range. Moving upward on the other side is a girl with a book, her lips moving as she reads whatever's in it out loud; turns out it's some kind of a Christian prayer book, with a picture of Jesus on the cover. Two couples stand behind her, and then there's another girl with a book: this time it's Nabokov's Lolita.

- Ostozhenka is deserted, and even though it is not completely dark, it appears ghostly from the trolleybus I'm on. All of a sudden, there's a well-lit and well-stocked flower kiosk next to one of the stops: its front window is all glass and it looks like a postcard of some oasis, something you don't want to take your eyes off. As we begin moving again, I see the woman who works in this kiosk: seated on a low bench amid all the roses, tulips, irises and what not, with her back to the audience, all wrapped up warm and with a woolen beret on her head, she is bending forward to be able to see the tiny screen of a black-and-white TV that sits on another low bench in front of her.

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