Friday, 23 October 2009
Went on a great walking tour last weekend with a group called MosMania. It was slightly complicated (and long) because it involved first having to join the official Moscow State University (MSU) tour which was very long-winded and 'official'; and then sneaking off after to see things from a student's perspective (the people who took us around are/were students at the university).
The reasons for going to MSU is that it is one of Stalin's skyscrapers (constructed in the 1950s and without much change from those days), and it is located on Sparrow Hills, so with great views over the city.
There was also the student Autumn Ball in progress, so we were surrounded by young people in dinner jackets and shiny ballgowns, practicing their dancing, talking on their mobile phones, waiting anxiously for partners; all of which added to the particular character of the place. Amazing soviet classical detailing (built by prisoners - both returning Russian prisoners of war from Germany and low-grade political prisoners) plus old-fashioned lecture halls and seminar rooms, with the kind of wooden desks which suggest Victorian Board Schools; and then a huge basement of facilities, including a swimming pool, and accommodation (which we didn't see) for 6,000 students on site - a whole self-contained world in fact.
And the same old mix of Soviet, contemporary, elegant, decrepit or just plain weird bits and pieces that I have mentioned before.