Sorokin part I: Moscow State University

mgyI got back from Moscow bleary-eyed at 6:40 a.m.  Although I’m still slowly detoxifying like a half-pickled vegetable in the sun, it’s time to kiss and tell how our Sorokin excursion went.  First, the translation:

The Eros of Moscow (continued)
By Vladimir Sorokin

1. Moscow State University and the overlook on the Vorobyev Hills

On a sunny and fair day, approach the Stalinist mass of Moscow State University from the side of the Moscow River, come in by way of the granite stairs and stop in front of the columns at the entrance.  Alongside them sit an iron young man and an iron young woman with iron books in their hands.  If you’re a man, go to the girl, if you’re a woman, to the boy.  Softly come closer to your object, climb the pedestal and place your hands on the iron chest.  Cry out “Moscow, let me in!”, stand there for a few minutes, then climb down and go to the overlook.  There place your elbows on the glossy granite parapet and look out over the panorama of the city sprawling out before you until your eyes begun to tear up.  As soon as they break out and the panorama flows together in a flickering kaleidoscope, try to feel Moscow in the form of a colorful orb gliding through the air.  Having felt this, wipe away the tears and proceed further …

When the first day of our big excursion arrived, I of course forgot the damn story at home.  As a result, we had to go off of my worm-eaten memory and the collective recollections of the small group of Russian friends to whom I had shown the story one beer-sodden, vodka-pissed night last week in St. Petersburg’s Retro Bar “Chyort Poberi” (“The Devil Take You”).

We ended up approaching from the opposite side, where we found two other statues of an iron young man and woman with iron books, no different from their easterly counterparts besides a pedestal three meters higher.  I pompously scrambled up and yelled “Moscow, let me in!” before ingloriously scrambling down to avoid yet another cop patrol taking part in the mass outpouring of police force for the May holidays.

Passing the entrance to one of the gargantuan dormitory towers, we Pop-Eyed our chests and headed inside like we owned the place. Inside was a mix of college dorm — skis and old furniture stacked in the halls  — and professor colony, with old academics sitting quietly at desks in private apartments visible only through mail-drop holes.

There on the top floor, however many stories up, we found our further progress barred by a five-button lock, which we outwitted by a little deduction of the most worn-down keys.  We were still patting each other the back when an old crone emerged from the shadows of the dim green stairwell like the Ghost of Christmas Past.  It eventually became clear from her disjointed grumblings that she lived in the tiny, uber-Soviet apartment (i.e. moldy furniture, a wood-paneled TV and strings of sardines drying in the sun outside) on the very top and wanted to know what we were doing there.

One of my Russian friends without so much as a wink explained that they had let us in at the front desk to come take in the view.  The crone calmed down and we had the best view of Moscow available outside of Ostankino Tower or the Moscow City skyscraper cluster.

After a half-an-hour we dried our eyes and ran out the way we had come, nearly getting called out by the front-desk watch as we fumbled with the main door.


One Response to “Sorokin part I: Moscow State University”

  1. Stephen Streed Says:

    What is this Sorokin stuff?

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