Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One Week

One week.  I've been here one week.  Since I've managed to accomplish more or less all I could have hoped to accomplish in my first seven days, I suppose that this bodes well for the next fifty one weeks of real honest-to-goodness ethnographci field research to come.  On the other hand, every day I am reminded that my Russian is nowhere near adequate to the task of capturing a shred of nuance about anything, and that I am playing the socioculturally equivalent role of a character from some bad sci-fi about an interdimensional traveler who has just made the jump from life with only three physical dimensions to live with five dimensions within the same universe.  This is a long and confusing way of saying that this time in Moscow, I'm haunted by the strange feeling that everything is the same and yet everything is different.

The same: my favorite foods and places are still here; my everyday survival Russian is slowly coming back to me and seems to be serving me well enough that I don't get too many weird looks when I ask people for directions or talk to store clerks; and Moscow is still a wonderfully busy, strangely beautiful and intimidating place.

Different: I've arrived at a time when one cannot turn on a radio, open a newspaper, or walk five paces without encountering the word "кризис (crisis)"; the sky is grey grey grey all the time; and for some reason people seem to understand the theme of my research even though I feel more detached from my project than ever.  

There's a lot that could be said about all of this... but I've got work to do.  

More to come...

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