November 9 - MOSCOW


Pushing through the crowds of people, past aggressive taxi drivers demanding exorbitant fares, and onto the noisy, dirty street jammed with traffic, we feel like Moscow never looked so beautiful. Tired and a little dazed from our journey, we flagged down a car and headed for the apartment of our old friend, Natasha, the writer who followed us for Wired magazine in Novosibirsk. She kindly invited us to crash at her place while we are in town.

Natasha treated us to lunch at the swanky International Press Club restaurant. Actually, it's not very swanky, but after months in the Russian heartland our standards for what we consider fine dining have greatly diminished. Both Natasha and I selected the sumptuous gourmet burger while Lisa opted for the elegant taco salad. A couple of glasses of a mellow Bordeaux tasted like heaven after months of downing countless shots of vodka.

After lunch, we went into the offices of the press club and began the familiar process of making phone calls in pursuit of our next story.


November 10 - Moscow

It's absolutely amazing how much this city has changed over the last five years. At 11:00pm this evening we were sitting around Natasha's apartment when we collectively realized that none of us had eaten dinner. With nothing in the fridge, Natasha called a local sandwich shop who faxed us a menu and delivered our order within the hour. Anybody who has spent some time here in the past will appreciate the enormity of this seemingly simple feat.

During the day Lisa and I ran around interviewing people who were potential subjects for our Moscow road story. We met with a successful self-made businesswoman and her husband, an artist; then with a guy who, starting with one PC, developed his own communications network for Russian banks; and finally with a young man who was introduced to us as MD&C Pavlov, the Godfather of Russian rap. By a process of elimination--we felt the business woman was a little too close to our story about Larisa in Khabarovsk, and the computer guy, while interesting, wouldn't make a good photo essay--we think we are going to a piece on MC Pavlov. We also thought doing a story on a Russian rapper would probably be a lot more fun.

After our meeting with Pavlov at a small cafe, Lisa and I walked back to Natasha's, passing through Red Square on the way. It seemed like the first time in a long while that we were able to actually stop and take in our surroundings. Always an impressive sight, the square was quiet and the snow-covered spires of St. Basil's glowed majestically against the black night sky.




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