Skip to main content

Featured

no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

a wedding


I saw a long stretch of male balsam trees. They stood, tall and straight in perfect lines along Leninsky Prospekt. They look nothing like the females I wrote about last week. No low branches for the first 50 or 60 feet of trunk, and spaced elegantly – they look down on Lenin’s hill.

Here, you can see the whole city spread out before you. A likely tourist spot, there are countless tables of Bart Simpson matroshkas, Brittney Spears matroshkas, Beatles matroshkas, and the occasional Russian matroshka.

There is a very small monastery, really just a stone-walled room with a few candles inside it. An old woman with a dark kerchief over her head sweeps a few stray pukh from the door with a bundle of twigs tied together into a makeshift broom.

Lenin’s Hill is where all wedding parties make a stop in their festive tour of the city. Some even have the whole ceremony here. There is a sort of house oompa-band, a truly random collection of musicians. A trombone, a tiny trumpet, an accordion and maybe a big drum are the regulars. The band can expand to twenty or more noise-makers on a sunny day, but today in the rain it’s down to the bare minimum. They wait for wedding parties to stop by, and for 1,000 rubles (or maybe 500) they play like madmen, even taking requests for Elvis covers.

The bride’s face is caked with makeup, her hair done into a giant curly-cued beehive. The groom is in an ill-fitted grey suit, stiff and maybe a bit tired. His young face forced into a permanent smile, he stands where he is told to.

Sweet, chemical Russian champagne pops, and the group bursts into song, dancing an odd combination of the hustle, and a polka. It’s hard to stand still, and there’s nothing better than strangers dancing with you to an odd attempt at an Elvis song. Wedding photographs flash away. Relatives with camcorders trip over the tourists and matroshka tables trying to get the perfect moment.

A magnificent stretch limo is bright pink, displaying a giant pair of gold rings on the roof. “Yes.” It announces. “This is a wedding.”

“Gorka! Gorka!” The band shouts, then joined by the guests and strangers passing by.

The bride and groom kiss, and are showered with handfuls of shiny plastic hearts, stars, and a few rubles.

Just as quickly, the party moves on. The pink limo coughs into action, spurting a foul exhaust cloud. The band nips on flasks of cognac, hunching their shoulders against the damp air. Someone is smoking a menthol cigarette.

An old man searches through the party favors on the ground for stray rubles. He kisses each one he finds, before slipping it into his pocket.

I make my way into the forest below us. Tiny birds are chirping above me, and the wet earth smells sweet.

What an oddly correct way to spend Father’s Day, I think.


Comments

Anonymous said…
I really appreciate your blog. You are able to describe Moscow in ways I have not been able to.

Thank you.
Rabbit blogger said…
what a kind thing to say! in truth, i am convinced everyone can write - don;t be scared, and don;t hold back. you need to get naked.

Popular Posts

best personal blogs
best personal blogs