Los Angeles, January 7, 2010
Day Two - Waiting for Tea
Our tour group met together each day in the hotel dining room at a precisely appointed time for lunch and dinner. Food was not served outside of these set parameters, and if you were not punctual you simply missed out. Usually the meal consisted of some mix of salmon and herring along with a small serving of vodka, followed by a kind meat patty and potatoes. Most of us chose to drink lukewarm Pepsi, since the bottled water was unbearably salty and the regular waters of Leningrad were so polluted that people not immune to the drinking often developed stomach ailments including serious bacterial infections. We were warned never to drink water! The meal was followed always by ice cream.
The Nevsky Prospect possesses an impressive quality: it
consists of a vast expanse for the circulation of the public;
numbered houses restrict it—this makes it easier to find any
home we may want. The Nevsky Prospect, like any prospect,
is a public prospect; that is, a prospect for the circulation of the
public (not of air to be sure); the houses, which line it and
shape its frontiers, are what give it substance—h'm...yes...for
the public. In the evening the Nevsky Prospect is lighted by electricity.
By day the Prospect needs no illumination.
Some of the grand buildings were still beautiful, but many had an almost fairy-tale like quality, the outsides appearing like stage-sets with nothing behind them. And indeed when I went into some of the grandest of these stores, there was nothing within. What had once been great groceries and clothing emporiums were now almost empty sets.
Los Angeles, January 11, 2010