In many ways, aside from the coffee and cigarettes, Moscow reminds me of Barcelona. Here you can lose yourself in the contrast between old and new. Late in the evening you can find kids skateboarding off the steps of a statue of Lenin. Just blocks away from the colors and zigzags of St. Basil’s Cathedral you can nurse a nine dollar cappuccino. On the way there you probably won’t be able to stop yourself from doing a double take at the Ritz wondering if it’s an unlisted landmark. And of course, you also can’t help but peer at the ways of the old and the new generation of Russians.
The old, having experienced one of the most brutal regimes in the world, once waited six hours in line for two sticks of kielbasa or two loaves of bread (everything came in two’s). Today’s teenagers, born after communism collapsed, are instead struggling to keep up with the latest fashion do’s and don’ts. They are also determined to make out as much as possible in as many places as possible. I think the main purpose of the abundant public spaces and benches is to stimulate Russia’s lagging population growth rate. Then again, who can blame those good looking Muscovites for not being able to keep their hands off each other?