October 16

In Moscow

A less eventful day. I arose at 9 to find Anton in the kitchen. He reported that the hot water was back on, but just beginning to warm, so another pot-and-kettle shower. The usual things for breakfast, plus cottage cheese in solid form, unlike the little chunks I'm used to. It was drizzling and cool, but Mitya and I went to the Vermitage, more or less a big flea market. It is far cheaper than the Arbat or the shops near the city center. The variety and number of matrushka dolls available is staggering. We left after that to get out of the rain.

Rainy street near the Pushkin Museum

Then we arrived at the Pushkin Museum, which is not about Pushkin at all, but is a medium-sized art museum with paintings and sculptures from all over the world, including original Monets, Rembrandts, Matisses, Marquets, the whole gamut, and the world's third-largest Egyptian exhibit complete with mummies. One of its smaller rooms is pictured at the top of the page. I burned out after two or three hours, just as we were finishing the next-to-last room.

After dinner, Olga and I went to the Moscow Circus. It had gotten cold, near freezing. I regretted not bringing my wool cap and gloves. I should put them in my jacket pocket.

The circus was a bit disappointing. It had its impressive bits -- amazing bears catching hula hoops and doing balancing act, a girl swinging 70 hula hoops at once, and a glow-in-the-dark trapeze act with the lights out -- but many of the animals were poorly trained, and much of the program was tired repertoire.

If today's weather is typical, and winter depression is indeed a legitimate medical phenomenon, it's no mystery why Russians are regarded as resigned and fatalistic. This would quickly do the same to me!

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