Ruminations on a hallway

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I keep feeling like I should make a post about the situation in the Ukraine/Crimea, but every time I sit down to write one I get overwhelmed and end up down a rabbit hole of opinion pieces, and people throwing around phrases like “Cold War Two!” “World War Three!” with something like glee, and it just becomes too much. I’ll try to post about it later, once I can better sort out my thoughts. For now, rest assured that I am not in any kind of danger, just going to class every day and struggling to keep up with my readings. (If anyone is interested, my friend here Sean wrote what I thought was a great blog post about watching the events in the Ukraine and Crimea unfold from St. Petersburg, which you can read here.) One interesting comment I heard about the situation recently came from our tour-guide at the Dostoevsky museum today: “For Russia, losing the Crimea was like losing a leg!” she explained to us.

On a lighter note, I thought it was about time I informed the world about the magical hallway outside of my host family’s apartment. As you may or may not know, in Russian homes you take of your shoes and put on slippers/sandals (тапочки) before entering the home. My host family shares the hall outside their apartment with the two neighboring apartments, and this is the area in which you take off your shoes before entering the house. This hallway is a complete and utter mystery to me. It seems like every time I come home, something is different. Sometimes there are cupboards, and bookshelves, but then suddenly one day there weren’t. They reappeared a few days later. For a while there were two large oil paintings hung in place of one of the cupboards, and then these too disappeared. Sometimes there are shelves with our shoes and slippers in the hallway, but then sometimes those get relocated into the apartment itself. Sometimes there is a stool to sit on while taking off/putting on one’s shoes, but sometimes this also disappears, or moves around to the other apartments. Occasionally rugs are present outside the doors, but there is no guarantee. Sometimes they are replaced by hand-towels. One day I got home and the entire floor of the hallway was gone, and there was just bare concrete. The next day I got home and a new wood-like floor mat was in its place. I’m sure there’s an entirely logical explanation for all of this (construction? Space disputes with the neighbors? A love of interior decoration) but I haven’t asked Larisa, because I kind of enjoy the mystery of not knowing.

In other news, my dad arrived in St. Petersburg on Thursday for a week-long visit, so look out for some posts about our adventures here together!

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