Last Pyshkis and Stiglitz Academy

We stayed with Anna’s friend Larissa on the last night. Larissa occupies a large, former communal apartment all by herself. We were upgraded as far as the towels go, as well as a bathroom, but the rest of the apartment was in dire need of renovation. Layers of wallpaper were peeling off the walls, down to the layer of German-language newspapers, which was probably used in place of wallpaper right after the war. Patches of bare concrete were peering from behind the multitude of layers. It was almost artsy save for the apparent danger of asbestos.
The floors in the hallways were also original communal-apartment – worn out linoleum tiles of faded pink and gray. The rooms, though, had original oak floors, the ceilings were high, and the walls thick.
In Larissa, I found another pyshki enthusiast, and we shared 12, then added another 4. Washed them down with coffee that Larissa called “pail coffee.” According to her, right before we reach the end of the pyshki line and get ready to make a purchase, a sturdy worker-woman comes in and pours a pail of hot water into the dregs left on the bottom of the coffee urn, stirring up the muck, and that is what is served to the customers. Jokes aside, the coffee is diluted but sweet and nostalgic.
That was my last pyshki binge and I had to get my full.
After this gluttonous orgy, we had to satisfy our spiritual hunger. We went to a museum at Stiglitz Art-Industrial Academy. The museum was small and completely empty of visitors. The exhibits were lovely, especially the collection of traditional Russian tiled stoves, but what really warranted the visit was the building itself. The ceilings were freshly renovated and truly magnificent! So were the staircases and some doors.
The museum hosted a ceramics exhibition. I really liked this piece

, and asked if it was for sale. Enter a madame with a peasant face and an attitude of a prima donna, introduced herself as an art director or something, sized me up and, apparently, deeming me insolvent, pronounced that the piece was very-very expensive and did I actually have the money to pay for it?
A “Pretty Woman” moment here.
I did have the money and was introduced to the artist, a professor at the art school. Unfortunately, I had the money to pay for the sculpture but not for shipping – which amounted to quite a few thousand dollars.
Off we went, empty-handed, and to the theater to see Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. The play was poignant but I don’t like Russian acting – it’s too theatrical.
From the theater we rushed to the train station to follow in Lisa’s and Adam’s footsteps to Moscow.

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