The Eternal City

This article is part of a series entitled Russian Caravan Tea. See also:
1. Only in Russia; 2. The Lonely and Forgotten Nation; 3. The Eternal City

Moscow’s elaborate subway system has stations dotting the entire city. Riding for five minutes in the fluorescent glow of a train car, only to emerge forth through the station’s doors, I find myself transported to a new, fantastic, and completely arbitrary world. Thus exploring, I “collect universes”. On foot, I travel through them; underground, I travel between them.

In my mind, another world is explored: the abstract landscapes of mathematics itself. These universes are expanses of terrain; they’re built and connected, however, out of pure ideas. They’re abysses of blackness, filled only by the shifting machinery of logical structures. They’re universes of mechanical ideas. I explore them too.

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A view from Moscow’s “Taganskaya” station.

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The Lonely and Forgotten Nation

This article is part of a series entitled Russian Caravan Tea. See also:
1. Only in Russia; 2. The Lonely and Forgotten Nation; 3. The Eternal City

I stepped carefully through the dark pathway, scrutinizing the distant glow of the approaching streetlamp. Moving into the radius of light, I finally felt safer. I looked at my surroundings. A dirt road ran in front of me into the village, flickering orange under the row of dim orbs now proceeding into the distance. Houses lined each side: tiny, decrepit houses, with corrugated-iron fences and wild yards with gnarled shrubs growing up past the windows. Most were dark; occasionally, a glowing white curtain concealed light, shadows and voices. This place was thrilling for its utter humble, natural, decrepitness.

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Only in Russia

This article is part of a series entitled Russian Caravan Tea. See also:
1. Only in Russia; 2. The Lonely and Forgotten Nation; 3. The Eternal City

Russia is different from America. The differentness, however, resists enumeration; it defies lists. The differentness is a comprehensive “fabric” filling the air. Russia’s environment, culture, and texture together assemble into a dense subjective experience. Beyond my window lie the broad walls of a complex of tattered, stucco apartment buildings; raindrops drip from the trees onto the puddles covering the dark sidewalks. Power lines arch across the sky. Opposite the nearby road, the iron structures of the metro station jut above the retaining wall. The tiny local grocery store is empty: inside, a solitary clerk sits past the shampoo and next to a wall of alcohol bottles.

Inside the dormitory, the slow “bunsen-burner” stovetops are mustering their strength below a pot of hot noodles. A big jar of fresh tea is steaming on my table, next to the honey, as it cools. The chessboard is ready. Soon the room will be filled with hot tea, deep discussions of mathematics, and the excitement of king-of-the-court blitz chess. Welcome to Moscow.

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A view from my dormitory in Moscow

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