121, Prospekt Mira, Moscow
Letter from Moscow
Wednesday September 23, 2015
Data Lake! It’s all coming back to me. All the streets were closed off near my apartment today. I stayed home and watched the normal mix of poverty baiting and news slinging on TV. My internet connection is incoherent. I am trying to use the wi-fi system from the apartment upstairs. Every time I guess the password it gets changed. But it keeps me focused — running through various cute pet names, Russian soccer players and school yard taunts backed with zeros and dates.
In Moscow they love to wash the streets. It’s an important gesture but still feels alien to me. I spent many years in Paris — jetlagged and up early to witness the ritual cleansing of the boulevards. I always coveted the little bundles of wood and carpet that they used to stop off the drains and keep the water flowing. In Nice every night they would hose down the square in the old town. Wash the trash away until it slowly dried out the following morning and made it’s way back home.
What they need here is a decent Mosque. I keep going on about it to the two guys who live upstairs. I think they think I think they would use a decent Mosque if they had one — but I keep explaining to them that its just an observation. Something about the way I pronounce “observation” in Russian must be coming out wrong. I think they think I am saying it is just an “accusation”. Something about the resulting frisson gets me going. It’s clear that they cannot be sure that I am saying accusation so they don’t quite take offence. But they steal themselves for imminent insult. Otherwise they play PlayStation all day. CSKA v Spartak v Dynamo v Torpedo v Lokomotiv. I am trying to sell them the idea of a soccer and insurgent shooter mix up. I am pretty sure the tall one replied that I would need a Math Pond to achieve that in online mode. But maybe I misunderstood him. We laughed. I told them the anecdote about how I want to teach Gramsci to architects in Ivy League Universities. So they stopped laughing and went back into their apartment.
This evening I think I will go out. As I sweetened up I was sure I could hear the call to prayer — very faint but unmistakable. At this time of year in Moscow it is great to go to Armenian bars. They have fantastic brandy. And you can talk about love and sex and money. They get a bit sentimental in a paradisical-utopian way after a few but I have acquired the Russian knack of bringing things down to earth with airport stories.
I may have pushed it too far tonight. After a few dozen; Let’s get starteds! To yous! To your healths! To our meetings! To our friendships! To the hostess! To women! To our parents! and To loves! I stood on the table and shouted in my base Armenian “Love is like an Airport!” I don’t know what’s happening to me but I think the guys upstairs know something about the location of the Data Lake.
Take care of yourself… Береги себя