Sunday, October 2, 2005
In Moscow again. Almost feels like home in comparison. Spent the night in Chelyabinsk. That is a dirty city - nasty and ugly. The buildings have the same appearance as other cities in the former Soviet that I've seen. Remarkably similar. It is the air pollution and the noise pollution that make it so bad. The air is ugly all the time. I have seen worse smog, but on a regular basis, day in and day out, every time I have been here it has been there. Even at 5:30 this morning - a Sunday, it was hanging like a dark fog, visible in the light from buildings and streetlamps. The worst part of this is that the Russians seem to have an extreme case of "country mouse - city mouse", and the city mice do NOT think well of the country. Which is entirely a shame, because they have a beautiful countryside, with clean air and towns that are readily available by rail. I think that this prejudice may have an economic impact, as it seems to reduce the support that rural infrastructure gets. I'm sure there were analyses of the economic impact of rural electrification in the US. Wonder what they told us. But the point was that they would rather live in Chelyabinsk, in its ugly glory, than in Shchuch'ye in its glorious helplessness. It's a pity.