The World Trade Center in Moscow is still there, and this is what it’s called: World Trade Center, in English. It consists of a few concrete-and-glass skyscrapers, filled with offices and expensive boutiques, connected by a shopping mall in the basement. At six pm the employees of banks and corporations, who occupy the said offices, pour outside. They form a river of dressed-up people, flowing to the nearest metro station. There, on the way out of an underground passage and into the station, this gentleman awaits them:
I have been visiting all different parts of Moscow lately at the most unusual hours. One evening not long ago I found myself near Elektrozavodskaya, one of the many suburban train platforms. As I was emerging from the metro, this voice drew my immediate attention:
Kurskaya is a very big metro station, where three metro lines cross with a major suburb trains hub. I was rushing through one of its multiple halls, pushed between endless chains of escalators when I heard the concert which you can now hear below. For a second the very centre of Moscow turned to be a market in a land far, far away, I could almost hear the hum of sellers and buyers, feel the smell of spices and see the desert surrounding that imaginary, middle-eastern town. Call me naive, but this is what that music made me think of. If anyone reading those words happens to know what instrument it actually is and where it comes from, I shall be eternally grateful if they share that information with me. For now, though, join me on a small excursion to that fairytale land, which I left as fast as I entered it, descending into the mundane abyss of yet another metro station.
Russian is a beautiful language and one which was made for poetry. Coincidentally – or maybe because of that – poetry has always had its place in the mainstream culture. It’s difficult to find a Russian who would not know at least a couple of their favourite stanzas by heart. Poetry also makes its way to the streets. Here is a poetry reader on one of the main tourist spots in Moscow, only a couple of steps away from the Red Square:
This is a sound postcard I recorded on Shchelkovskaya, to accompany the photographs you already had the chance to see. Enjoy.
After two long months spent on a sofa back at home with a leg in a cast (which did have its good sides), I am back to Moscow – with a new batch of enthusiasm and a new batch of ideas. I left a dark, gloomy city in the middle of winter, I came back to a city of blooming spring, with people in love kissing in the sunshine. Despite still not being able to walk normally, I enjoy the sunshine as much as possible. Tuesday brought me to VDNKH, my favourite park in Moscow, where the old and the new come together in the most unexpected ways. Here is what I saw and heard there:
Some time ago I was passing – as I usually do on Mondays – near the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It was just before eight a.m., every scrap of concentration that was available to be me at that early hour was concentrated on keeping me up right and preventing me from dancing a sliding dance on the very slippery metro stairs and pavements covered with snow. It was dark. Around me I could only hear the even steps of other dawn ghosts, going to work for the way-too-early shift. Suddenly, right above my head, the bells started ringing at that bitter, grey hour. It wasn’t just one, deep, rumbling bell, but a conglomerate of all sorts of bells, small and big, the chaotic sounds of which gathered together in one, uniform melody:
Long walks around Moscow are like a treasure hunt. In a city so big you can always find something extraordinary. Your chances grow exponentially after dusk – little pieces of Moscow gold twinkle in the dark. Many of the treasures you find are of musical kind, as Russians are a very musical nation. One October evening, on the steps to the Historical Museum, I saw these two ladies:
Sounds are of extreme importance in Russia. The country’s public space is populated with sounds that do no allow you to confuse it with any other place. Many spots look as if they could be located anywhere in the world, but they sound distinctively Russian (and not only because of the language). I would like the Readers to see Moscow as I see it and, paradoxically, I see Moscow through its sounds. Therefore, I will be sending the Readers a sound postcard every now and then.