Svetlana, 15, was walking along Lenin St in Kursk with her two girlfriends when I noticed the New York winter hat, which is very popular right now - i see at least one a day. She spoke good English and said she wanted to be a translator. Her older brother also spoke good English she she said because he spent time in New Orleans. I asked her about her wishes for the New Year. She said she wanted to visit St Petersburg in the winter time.
After a 75 minute bus ride from Gus Khrustalni to Vladimir, I had 1.5 hours to walk around the historic town before my 2-hr train ride back to Moscow. I went looking for coffee and passed a colorful cafe with big windows that probably opened a year or two ago at most. Paintings were on the wall...it was a place you might find in NYC. As I sat down, I saw a young woman in a NYC shirt with pinkish-rimmed glasses. She had been reading, but was getting ready to leave and I walked over to chat about her studies and dreams. Zhenya said she was finishing her university degree and, after much thought, had finally realized what she wanted to do in life...at least in the mid-term: 'I want to draw, to create something intellectual.' She hoped to continue her studies either in Moscow or abroad, where she felt educational demands and job opportunities would be better than in her native Vladimir. Considering her artistic interests, it was not surprising to find her at home in such a cafe. Notice the artwork on the wall behind her.
She was walking with her friend at a Moscow park and asked me if I knew where the ice skating rink ticket booth was. I said no, taking notice of her Harlem hat and blue eye lenses. I then asked her if she knew what/where Harlem was. She said no. I asked her why she bought the Harlem hat. She said she simply liked it. I could understand her, recalling the time I bought a jacket with Japanese writing, having no idea what was written on it.
I was walking around Voronezh around 10am when I saw these two having a warm moment on a swing. Dima at 195cm was taller than me and I asked him if he was a college student. He said he and Liza were 14 and in high school together. They were skipping class to hang out and chat. Dima said he plays basketball and dunks without much effort. Liza said she likes art and would like to study abroad. When I asked her where, her answer surprised me. 'New York School of Visual Arts.' I didn't expect a young teenager far from Moscow to be familiar with NYC universities.
A close-up of Maxim, a street musician who plays rock music with his guitar. He said he lived and worked in my hometown of NYC in early 1990s doing home repairs/comstruction work. He also said he plays on the streets in Berlin, where he claims he can make as much as several hundred euros a day, several times more than he can make playing on the streets in Moscow.