A City of Propaganda (Old and New)

September 12, 2011

Stalin wanted to build the Moscow metro as an underground paradise – and did he ever succeed. It is a shining piece of propaganda, exemplifying what socialism is able to accomplish. I feel pretty lucky – my station, Mayakovskaya, is the one usually shown to visiting foreign dignitaries and it is gorgeous. Black and tan marble, gorgeous mosaics and lots of brightly-lit ceiling niches create quite a heaven. All the stations have a theme, such as Komsomolskaya (Communist Youth) and Dinamo (sport – the Dinamo stadium is located not far from this station). The commute on the metro, while incredibly packed at times, is certainly much prettier than the traffic jams above ground generally through the day. I wondered, when I first learned that the Moscow metro closes at 1 a.m., how the city that never sleeps shuts down its public transportation at such an earlier hour. Instead, club-goers simply stay at clubs and bars until closing, then get coffee in MacDonalds before heading home when the metro opens at 5 a.m. (I’ll let you all know how that goes at a later date – it’ll be my first visit to MacDonalds! How’s that for a Russian first…)

Billboards across Moscow and commercials on television postulate, that “those who are happiest, have happy ones at home.” Due to Russia’s demographic crisis and severely dwindling population, such efforts to encourage Russians to have more kids, essentially, can be seen everywhere. Friends currently residing in European countries (who are experiencing the same demographic trends) – are such ads targeting societal values the norm? We also came upon this grouping of statues in some park near the Arbat – at first it seemed really pretty and happy, but then we read the title of the public work of art: “Adult Vices Effect Children.” Around two happily-playing golden children are positioned statues representing vices like drug abuse, alocholism, etc. I am going to characterize that one as rather Russian.

Word has apparently quickly spread about “the American girl” playing on the women’s soccer team at MGU (at least within the MGU soccer-playing community. I honestly don’t know how big that actually is). Americans still must hold some kind of fascination for Russians! Generally, most girls don’t play soccer, and if they do, they start playing well into high school or at university. The girls on the team were astounded to hear that I’ve been playing soccer since grade school, and for a club for about a third of my so-short life. There is certainly room for expanded opportunities for girls in the area of sport in Russia!

On a personal note, I found THE café, where I will be spending most of my time and (not too much) money. They make this delicious булочка с маком[1], which is covered in chocolate and is absolutely delicious. Their 50 ruble (under $2) tea and coffee is also a welcome revelation. Can a good cafe make an entire city feel much more home-y? I think so. Only 25 minutes from my apartment, in a district with lots of great museums? Life doesn’t get much better…

Until I eat another булочку,

Hillary


[1] Roll with poppy seeds

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2 Responses to “A City of Propaganda (Old and New)”

  1. nateinsiberia said

    Hill, 50 rubles ain’t 4 dollars. Here at the university we pay 12 rubles for tea, and that’s about 40 cents US. I think right now it’s 29 to a dollar.. though maybe you only get 12 to a dollar in the big city (out here fashion trends tend to be 5 years behind; maybe the exchange rate follows a similar pattern).

  2. 🙂 corrected… but I think rounding very much up helps me not spend too much in this VERY expensive city.

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