Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

21 Jun 2001, 11:39 a.m.

Choco Popov

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Still in St. Petersburg, still writing. Since the weblogs I read have made no updates, I have more time to write. Whoopee.

Here are some comments I've made that you might find interesting, on the practicalities of my trip, my interest in Lenin and in Russian music, and on the exhausting effects of the classes.

I have now seen Choco Leibniz, non-Choco Leibniz, and -- yes, really -- candy of some sort packaged in some sort of merchandising hookup with the film From Dusk Till Dawn. Really. A black-and-red package, pictures of George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, and some Russian words that really seemed like the translation of "From Dusk Till Dawn." I think it cost something like five rubles.

I did not venture to purchase said foodstuff. What could be inside?

Places to visit

  • Mendeleev's grave. Possibly to, as stated earlier, lay a periodic table and some flowers on it, if permitted.
  • Pavlov Museum. And, possibly, the street where he trained his dogs. I wouldn't have wanted to live there.
  • Rasputin Palace. Rah, Rah, Rasputin. Which reminds me that Boney M is still quite a presence among Russian music fans. I don't get it.
  • The Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. It's built with its altar directly on the spot where Tsar Alex. II was killed. I saw the outside of it the other day -- amazing. I need to go inside. Oh, and the reason it looked familiar was that a photo of it graces my copy of the Rough Guide to St. Petersburg. One author of this guide: Dan Richardson. That's funny.
  • The Women's Center. Just to see the cross-cultural, cross-racial, cross-gender barriers in action.
  • The Museum of Hygiene. I hear it's gruesome. Organs and people in jars, etc.
  • The LUG, as I've mentioned earlier in this diary.
  • A banya. Traditional Russian bathhouse. Like a sauna, only not. Very convivial, I hear. And separated by gender, so Mom, Dad, don't worry.
  • The Gas-Dynamics Laboratory Museum. It's all about Sputnik! Actually, maybe not actually Sputnik, but Sputnik-like stuff.
  • Lenfilm Studios. Maybe catch a free movie.
  • Kresty Prison. This is where poet Anna Akhmatova waited, along with hundreds of other women, for news of her loved one(s) during the purges. A stranger recognized her and asked her, "Can you describe this?" Akhmatova did, in Requiem. I really need to read that whole cycle.

There is air hockey at the arcade in Gostiny Dvor, an otherwise seemingly non-useful (to me) shopping center on Nyevskii Prospekt. This comforts me. Where air hockey goes, stable market capitalism will follow.

Another song snippet I have overheard in the Gostiny Dvor/Nyevskii Prospekt metro station is from "Blur" or "Fastball" or something somewhat recent. I recall it from ads for the film Starship Troopers.

In India, they say, "Delhi is far away." I have a feeling that, even in Moscow, people here say, "Moscow is far away." The private, sympathetic, hospitable Russian character is very different from the public, shoving Russian character. Home v. metro.

I think ACTR prevents war more than the UNA does, in general.

First published by Sumana Harihareswara at