by Ladislav Charouz

After a morning rehearsal, Agata, Andrew, Michael Chang, and I visited the Novodevichy Cemetery. While Boris Yeltsin’s grave – a massive Russian flag made of cement – was difficult to miss, we spent quite a while trying to find Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev. The sheer number of greats left us starstruck. Not only did we find Shostakovich and Prokofiev, but we also happened upon Rostropovich, Rubinstein, and Scriabin (we were also intent on finding Molotov, Khrushchev, Chekhov, and Gogol, but time was quite scarce).

The sky cleared up as we ventured into the picturesque Novodevichy Convent, but we did not stay too long. For one, much of the complex was under reconstruction, and furthermore, many Yalies are not in the habit of eating breakfast, which leaves them very hungry early on in the day. Upon finishing our lunch, we headed off to Red Square, taking the opportunity to tour a few lavish metro stations. Fortunately for us, the local populace largely ignored Michael, who decided to pose for pictures in a so-called “Slavic squat” while the rest of us awkwardly looked the other way. 

Michael and a cat

Michael’s most smashing achievement of the day, however, was when – Agata having left us to do some work – he led Andrew and me across several blocks to buy some “really cheap water.” Our unexpectedly long mission stranded us in the middle of the biggest downpour of our entire journey. Upon further interrogation, it turned out the water Michael promised us was only 30 cents cheaper than what we would have bought on Red Square, which prompted the executive decision to return as quickly as possible, buy some water outside Red Square, and hide in the State Historical Museum. Of course, as luck would have it, we weren’t permitted to bring water inside, which was bad news for Michael, who had bought a total of three bottles. He abandoned two and chugged one, which turned out not to be a good idea either, as he got lost trying to rejoin us on the way back from the bathroom.

All ended well, however, as Michael tracked us down by showing museum employees pictures of the last exhibits he had visited. We returned home in one piece and rested in anticipation of our journey to Sergiev Posad.


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