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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

the electro-train from Domodedovo

Most of the week was spent in the airport, filming a project. It was odd to make my way there by car or taxi with no ticket to double check in my pocket, no searching my memory to make sure I had packed a toothbrush, or remembered gifts.

The hush of the duty free shops was punctuated by announcements I could ignore. The fresh smell of perfume tests. The people running, their bags bobbling around them. The people with hours to kill, reading the fine print on labels. And me, tucked into a corner – clicking hundreds of time-lapse frames, sitting on my feet.

It was raining one of those days, and there was no car to take me back to the city. I was to take the express electro-train instead.

The platform was almost empty, except for a woman in a black and white checked raincoat and her tiny daughter, all in pink. The woman clutched the child close to her, as the rain pounded down around us, and a damp wind flipped her dress around. She looked like a character from a film, with the train cars stretching into the horizon behind her, with the great ragged canopy of steel above us.

The doors opened, and we rushed inside.

The lights were off, and the train would sit here for at least 20 minutes before we left. The woman checked her face in a tiny compact, and searched in her purse for something for the little girl to play with. As they did not have any luggage, I decided they must have come to the airport to see someone off. Returning by train would save them at least 1,200 rubles. Maybe they had arrived in Moscow unexpectedly, to go to a hospital and see a dying loved one, with no time to pack.

The woman stared past me, her dark hair formed into a perfect modern beehive. The swirling checkerboard pattern of the black and white jacket framed her face. The blonde girl laughed and jumped, trying to catch my attention. I looked at her now, wondering if this woman was her mother or maybe a nanny or an aunt.

The rain dribbled down the windows.

The lights came on. A woman rolled a cart with potato chips and juice boxes through the car. She picked up newspapers from empty seats as she made her way. No one bought anything.

The woman held the little girl close to her, rubbing their noses together and laughing. I wanted to take a picture of them, but decided not to.

The train lurched forward.

We saw fields littered with purple and white wildflowers, and eventually the city.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
No one ever buys anything. Once I asked how much she wanted for a bottle of water, and it was something outrageous. So I declined.
Rabbit blogger said…
the film is for an international brand - -think discounted, tax-free perfume.

i agree about basic overprcing. i almost bought my daughter an Alonka chocolate bar for 120 rub! (normally 20).
The Expatresse said…
Flew to the US out of Domodedovo on Wednesday and thought about all this then . . . did not buy anything from the Vending Lady. WAS surprised that they now make announcements on the train in English, but the voice/accent is that of a Vauxhall car TV campaign . . . very odd.

Now I have just pegged myself as a class snob, and I'm not even British.

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