Blog posts


going down

We've now made it home to Wisconsin, where our yard is full of mosquitoes and our attic full of boxes.

Since our return I've been pondering what photo I could post to sum up our experience of life in the former Soviet Union. This is it.

It’s a typical scene from Kazakhstan. You walk into the entryway of an apartment building or an office building. The front steps are crumbling, the paint is peeling. It smells like something died in the basement. If there is an elevator, and if it looks like it works, you squeeze through the narrow doorway and the door bangs shut behind you.

The interior of the elevator is gloomily lit by a single orange bulb. In the half-dark you search for the floor you want, and discover that after five or six decades of grimy fingers, the numbers have long since worn off the white plastic buttons. You take a guess, hit a button and the light gets even dimmer as a motor shudders to life somewhere below.

On the way back down you take the stairs.

In this case, in an academic office building in Almaty, someone got fed up. I can imagine her, pulling a bottle of fingernail paint out of her purse and hastily scrawling numbers on the wall as the elevator creaks slowly upwards.

I did not notice the blank button below 5 until later, looking at this photo. Who, I would like to know, works on floor four and a half?

/* Google Analytics code: ----------------------------------------------- */