Friday, November 19, 2004

I'm a Stranger in Moscow

The wind of change predicted and well-described by the Scorpion over a decade ago has turned the Russian capital upside down and you guys, who haven't visited Moscow after the Collapse, prepare to face a hybrid mega polis decorated (and sometimes distorted) by new super-modern metamorphic things (sometimes they look like buildings).

However, the Bolshoy is still the same, but not the same anymore. I mean, the shape of the world-known theatre has not changed. And perhaps the very factor makes it look a bit paler and miserable in front of the new buildings overshadowing the old one. Tonight it had Lady Macbeth on. Probably a new Russian imaginative performance written on the basis of the old Macbeth. I did not bother myself with popping in to the theatre and as a westernized creature went on shopping.

It was snowing as if on my demand. Before flying to Moscow I was dreaming of a snow-coated Moscow with whirling snowflakes and the kids rolling snowballs. I could not see the kids of course, as in many other Western capitals, let alone snowballs. But the snow hosted me generously. Thanks, Mother Nature!

Perhaps I was dreaming of a heavily-snowing city to find at least one more difference between the Westernized capital of the biggest country in the world and Western Europe. However, the golden bell-shaped heads (kupola) of some historic buildings are a good reminder that I am in neither Western Europe nor Asia, but something in between. A perfect image of Eurasia.

I called it a hybrid mega polis, because it is ruled by both socialist and capitalist standards simultaneously and it is hard to draw a firm line between them indeed. Nevertheless, one can see more capitalistic atitude in everything rather than the socialistic one.

Moscow train walls are covered with posters advertising different, mainly foreign companies; you cannot pass by a Christian Dior (CD) boutique without getting caught by a wide-smiling well-dressed dealer and usually she makes you pay for her great efforts, beautidul smile and the thorough use of Blend-a-Med toothpaste and loads of Orbit "whitening" gums trailed in Moscow channels every 5 minutes. It makes one recall the Soviet Moscow with its fat gloomy sales assistants who were reluctant to move away from their stools to serve a customer (and even the very word of "customer" was regarded as a pathetic capitalist invention not worthy to use in "the freest, happiest country of the world). Christian Dior was a creation of the Devil and had no way to the Soviet shops. But now one of the CD boutiques looks right to the Red Square and its model pictures stare proudly at the Mausoleum of Leenin... One of the glamorous CD dealers makes me buy three fashionable items from her glassy boutique and even gives me a promotional Mat Control tube! The price makes me re-think my location: am I in Moscow? The wind has changed it indeed...

The train opens the door and I can see a very old typical Russian woman with a headscarf wrapped around her neck sitting on a pompous marble metro bench. She extends her leaf-like skinny palm in the hope to see a glitter in it shortly. But the hope is very feeble, so that her right hand goes down again gradually and joins her left one on the top of a stick. Or she is too weak to hold it extended for a long while. Then she goes on shaking, although it is not cold inside the tube at all. She does not look at the passers-by and her head is approaching her tightly-kept knees... The door closes with the same Soviet-style: "Beware! The doors are closing! The next station is Paveleckaya!" The wind has not changed it at all...

The municipality workers are salting the roads to prevent any possible casualities on the quickly-formed ice around the town. But snow is covering the soil with a dazzling carpet again and grey pigeons start drawing beautiful four-ended starts by walking on it and the pigeon-made pattern looks like a piece of arts. It seems I still do like this city: no matter if the wind has or has not changed it...

4 comments:

gblagg said...

Darius, more of this..you have found your voice. Very good.

Shamsi said...

One wouldn't paint feeling of that city better then you've done here. Whatever changes the wind has done to Moscow the mamory which came back home here - of my walking in Red Square and snowflakes tenderly touching the eyelashes are beautiful...

Darius said...

Blagg,

Russia has been destroyed partially by you and your pseudo-democracy and partially by their own distorted communist ideology. Therefore, I do not see a reason of your satisfaction, dude. Go back to your lessons.

wbrant said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a macbeth book site/blog. It pretty much covers macbeth book related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)