One of the hardest things about living in Moscow for me is simply how little nostalgia and cultural memory this place holds for me.
Think about it – why do we get excited about travelling to places like Rome, London, New York? The cities draw us because of the cultural memories ingrained in us from films, books, paintings, articles, travel guides, and photos. What images or stories come to mind when you think about these iconic cities? Paris brings up thoughts of Monet paintings, Julia Child recipes, literary heroes and historic figures; pop cultural sentiments like whiling away the afternoon in a cafe, nibbling on macroons and watching impossibly chic French women. London and New York have their own fairy tales from Harry Potter, to Shakespeare, to yellow taxi cabs, and Hollywood film depictions.
What images come to mind when you think about Moscow? Do you draw a blank? As an American, I often do.
Another problem is that Moscow doesn’t treasure its sentimental cultural jewels. Everyone’s so busy trying to get rich, trying to survive that, on an official level, the city isn’t really interested in cultivating a brand or preserving its cultural heritage.
SO, when I came across this article and website the other day and it just made my heart swell. A group of entrepreneurs are working to rebrand the city. How exciting! I love their line of Moscow souvenirs and their tumblr. Well done, no? The project itself isn’t on that large of a scale, or really even making that much of a difference, but I found the thought and the effort refreshing…
Another thing is that I want economist husband and our kids to be proud of their Moscow heritage. There are a lot of messed-up things about this city and this country, but there’s a lot to be proud of too. How do you preserve that pride for your family?
So, would you agree with me about Moscow’s lack of cultural nostalgia for foreigners? Or, if you’re a Muscovite, what films/books would you recommend for me? What’s nostalgic for you about Moscow?
*all images in this post taken from Heart of Moscow website