March 27, 2003 Evening in Moscow

Posted in Rodger's Russia Book | Posted by rodger |

It was worth the money for hotel and cab just for the ride through the countryside.

There are thousands of little houses beside the road. They are old, small and mostly falling down. It seems that Stalin’s dream and promise was a house for every man. They built thousands and thousands of houses. Of course, the houses could not be very large (some are about 12 by 20 feet) and not everyone could have luxuries like plumbing and electricity, but after 90 years, many or even most, are still standing. The residents paint them bright green and put gingerbread molding and bright colored shutters on the windows. Going inside is like stepping into a time machine and getting out in 1910. Most of the walls are covered with Victorian wallpaper, there are wood or coal stoves in the middle of the floor, and the one that I was in had a pressed tin ceiling in the living room – last seen in here in 1918 Indiana.

Most have not been maintained for 90 years and are in terrible shape – some are missing parts of the roofs – but at one time the road to Tver must have looked like a Disney movie set.

But, Russia is changing. Behind the picturesque shacks, modern commuter suburbs are going up. Some homes are as nice as, or nicer than, anything in California. Over the 250 kilometers between Tver and Moscow, I counted at least 20 modern gas stations being built – and two actually working. We stopped for lunch and bathroom at a busy McDonald’s. It seems that the age of the car is about to come into Russia.


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