In an earlier post we hinted at the faint sense of déjà vu that has colored D’s return to Eastern Europe. It is a fleeting feeling, one that usually lays dormant until it is unexpectedly triggered by a conversation, a meal, or a simple stroll along the streets. It is a feeling that is hard to convey in words; thankfully, pictures usually help where words do not suffice. Now that we have finally found the time to sort through the thousands of photographs we’ve taken since moving to this corner of the world, we’d like to share a few images.
As if Chisinau’s old trolley system and apartment blocks were not enough of a visual reminder, the city’s ubiquitous street sweepers are sure to trigger memories of a Soviet past. This picture was taken in Kiev, but the sight of an elderly woman using what one friend described as a witch’s broomstick to clean a sidewalk is a familiar one in Chisinau as well.
Nostalgia for Soviet times runs deep among some, who either long for a return to communism or covet the relics of this bygone era. Here, a man is checking old Soviet coins against a collector’s notebook. Soviet pins and statuettes also abound at many markets throughout Eastern Europe.
Speaking of markets, what struck D about this book market in Lviv was not the old books, but rather how they were displayed. Anyone who has lived in the Soviet Union would be familiar with these sagging folding cots. D spent many a childhood night on a similar one. Also worth noting were the abacuses, which all the vendors used in lieu of calculators. D’s grandma used an abacus when she lived in Moscow, and it wouldn’t surprise D to find one in her home now.
One of the things that has struck S the most since our move to Moldova is how much people bundle up their children here — and not just in winter. There is a common belief that one can “catch” a cold, so people use wind-proof strollers and dress their kids in thick jackets and warm hats at the first sign of cool temperatures. Incidentally, D’s grandma still asks him why he does not wear a hat in autumn to keep healthy and warm.
And then there is this. Getting one’s picture taken with exotic animals was a big thing in Soviet times. There are definitely photos from his childhood of D sitting next to a circus bear. In Lviv, at least, this tradition is alive and well. While walking around the city square, we were accosted by multiple youths, offering to take pictures of us with doves, rabbits, snakes, and various birds of prey.