What have I been up to lately, you ask? (And by asked, I mean, vaguely remembered that you bookmarked my blog a while ago and figured you’d check it while you were waiting for DrawSomething or Facebook to update.)
So I have some pictures, mostly not project-related. Up first: A parade down Arbat, a popular pedestrian avenue in downtown Moscow lined with shops and cafes, and usually hopping with tourists, kitsch vendors, and local youth. Apparently also home to Hare Krishna parades, complete with music and dancing. People standing around seemed amused and a little surprised: “Are those Hare Krishna? Really!” Many pictures were taken, and some literature was distributed.
Some of you may remember that back in January and February, I was on something of a quest to find a decent pair of boots: lined but not too warm to wear indoors, decent looking, big enough to fit over my pants (and, judging by my boot search, around my apparently massive calves), and most important, waterproof. This is why:
Late winter, from the perspective of one’s feet, is a succession of snow piles and ice patches, sudden pits of muddy slush, and the occasional salty spray from passing cars trying to beat traffic. (Keep in mind, these boots are actually plain solid black.) Thanks to some trusty footwear, my feet and pants have weathered the past month pretty well. (Shout out to the helpful REI employee who recommended them!)
Last Sunday, Red Square was closed. Not for a holiday or a festival, not for a military parade. But because some people were going to wear white ribbons on it. Earlier, a few opposition protesters had been arrested for protesting there. In response, a larger group planned to gather on April 1 for a White Square protest–turning Red Square into, ideally, a sea of protesters with the white ribbons and balloons that have been symbols of the political opposition. No dice: it turns out the entire square was closed “for technical reasons.” (Remember that phrase?) I stopped by in the evening to snap a few pictures, and overheard a group of about 10 protesters nearby chant for under a minute: Russia without Putin! Meanwhile, a pair of police officers watched, looking bored, and a crowd of people took photos and video.
The next day, KermlinRussia (a satirical Twitter feed) had this to say:
[With the ending of April 1, the organs of government power will stop making fun of the citizenry and will continue mocking them as usual.*]
And speaking of the opposition…
Tonight I attended a discussion/round table on the theme of “Women in a Changing World”. One of the guests happened to be Irina Prokhorova, sister of basketball magnate-cum-presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov. She’s become a little bit of a political figure here thanks to the family connection (and acquitting herself very well as a stand-in for her brother at a debate), but has her own established reputation in the intellectual community here. There were definitely more close-ups taken of her than of the other participants. (Guilty!)
In short, I’m keeping busy!
*As is usual, my own translation. I always welcome suggestions/corrections from more expert speakers!