19 June 2007

Summer in Elektrostal

Judy and I have been here in Elektrostal, Russia, since Sunday evening on a brief visit. I've been coming here at least annually since 1994, but this is Judy's first visit, and I've loved the experience of seeing the town through her eyes.

She's seeing the 2007 Elektrostal--different in many ways from the 1994 version whose infrastructure seemed to be crumbling. The massive beautification process that I mentioned last year has continued. So has the construction boom, with new apartment buildings growing up like mushrooms, and construction crews working day and night.

Of course, at this time of year, there's not much difference between day and night. It gets dark around 11 p.m. but doesn't stay dark for long. This is my first summertime visit to Elektrostal, and it's simply beautiful. (Granted, we missed the heat wave of two weeks ago, when temperatures apparently were in the upper 90's Fahrenheit.) Everywhere the vegetation is thriving.

I hope I get a chance to talk with someone about what that construction boom means for Elektrostal society. I don't think this city has historically seen itself as a bedroom community for Moscow, but the capital's real estate prices may be encouraging a migration even this far away. Will the result be, in effect, two Elektrostals? In the meantime, I can report that, with all these changes, one thing hasn't changed: the warmth of Elektrostal's citizens.

Off to Moscow tomorrow for the remainder of this brief visit. We have the delight of overlapping for two days with a youth team visit from Northwest Yearly Meeting before returning home Saturday night.


Simon Lemarchand said...

Oh Cthulhu almighty, how could I have ever missed this post of yours, Johan?! Such a pity my internet connection was rolling on the floor in agony due to the June thunderstorms for a week or two... It has been like some nine months since you left, but it feels just like it was a one day's leave. Institute life grips at me and my poor mates way to mercilessly... I can smell rumours in the wind of you coming along with your family to stay in our town for a long period of time, and some say you'll be a teacher at Kazantsev's. Is this stuff real? Hope to see you some day.

Johan Maurer said...

Yes, if all goes well I will be there in the fall! Thanks for your wonderful words. I was at the Institute last week a couple of times. We met with SAK and LVK, and Gennadi gave us a wonderful tour of Noginsk.

Simon Lemarchand said...

By the way Johan... I recall us talking about the Gopnik counter-culture once. I've just run across a fine article devoted to the Gopniki written by the Exile informal community, consisting of some English-speaking journalist guys who happen to live in Moscow. (Wonder if you're familiar with them)


Johan Maurer said...

It is interesting to do an Internet video search on "gopnik" and "gopniki" ...

I've been familiar with Exile for more than ten years, and with exile.ru for a while, but had not seen this article. There are always interesting writers at exile.ru, some of whom may someday realize that "mat" and profanity don't add weight to any worthwhile writing. By the way, did you see Taibbi's "appreciation" of Boris Nikolaevich?