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cold nostalgia

There is a note, stuck to the front entrance of our building. The hot water will be turned off for ten days. This is something that happens every summer, although it snowed a week ago and children wander the playgrounds in ski hats these days. At night it can be 40 degrees fahrenheit.  The hot water is always turned off like this, at some point during June or July. It is a long-standing Soviet tradition, and people begrudgingly accept it here. But the baby, V does not. She wants to stand in a hot bath before she goes to sleep, to splash and pour water all around her, and N. She wants to stand and wiggle her tiny hands under the spout, as she grows pink and clean, as she howls and shouts for us to see what new trick she has improvised. There is no explanation for her, why the hot water is off today, and will be tomorrow. She is angry, furious even.

I used to buy the story that this offered a chance for the water department to fix pipes, to take care of routine maintenance. Hot water c…

snapshots from the end of summer


The doughnuts are greasy, caked with powdered sugar. These are nostalgic ones from a roadside stand that has not changed since Soviet times. There are faces waiting urgently, ready to churn their cars on and keep going. There are faces staring into space or out the windows, at a parked semi, at the sky. They are in no rush, nursing styrofoam cups of coffee, the table a mess of napkins and slick paper. I lick my fingers, and decide to stick to just the one.

It starts to rain a little. I take a meter reading, get a few shots with the leica before I hide it in my pocket.



There is a spring of sacred, holy water set back from the road. People walk past us with giant bottles they have filled. The tiny pool is green at the bottom and I see little vibrations, rivulets under the surface. The water is sweet and cold, and I cup some in my hands drinking deep.



The flea market is already closing, at four. The tables are folded up one by one. Faces lost, no treasures discovered, no big sales. Beads and old binoculars, broken watches and silver spoons go back into suitcases. The cars throttle and stop, then pull away. 

We bought a wind-up victrola, a portable one from about 1950. The man shook my hand afterwards, happy.



Comments

liv said…
Hmmm, that's very interesting that you've shown pictures in color. It really changes the perspective of the viewer. Color makes that world seem more fragile, not so cold hearted and desolate as the black and whites do. It gave me the perception that many Russians probably feel as "stuck" in a place that they don't understand, don't like and cannot figure a way out of as you do.

I have unfortunately and even reluctantly formed an opinion that all Russians (except of course for N's relatives..)are lazy, corrupt and overly strict in their way of dealing with life there. That the whole perspective of Chekov's beautiful writing, the depiction of people living full spectrum lives no longer existed. I think it does, only now the color has been stripped away. The futility of living in, what has become for most of them, a black and white world must feel like a kind of prison. The face of the man in the donut shop, for me, expressed exactly that.

All of your pictures, Marco, no matter what their color, reveal to me something that I have never seen, never known before.

I'm glad you only ate one donut.

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