We buy double-journey tickets and scan them at the gates, beginning our descent under Moscow. The escalator runs for what feels like a hundred metres down, affording a survey of droves of Russians rising to the street. We plunge down past huge light bulbs, cell-phone ads, people going up: smoking-hot blondes with Louis Vuitton bags, frumpy matrons with quaint hairdos, military, a Tatar family, a man and his screaming kid.
I grip the steel railing as the doors shut on the lime-green eastbound line. The dirty grey car screeches to full throttle, goes faster, faster, almost whistling like a kettle, runs obscenely, hellishly fast, the sparking metal wheels overclocked, slaved to their mechanical limit. A Tatar girl smiles at me and looks away, again and again, as the train jolts and slows, gliding to a halt at Сре́тенский Бульва́р. I’m imagining this scene twenty years back, or maybe this train car exists in a multiverse. We almost forget to change to the blue line, but we switch and ride to Партизанская.
Back at the surface, a beige shepherd dog lies by a war-torn man with one eye and a cart of bottles and magazines. Chad winks at me. Yesterday at the Armoury we discussed whether the Westernization of Russia would strip its women’s femininity. Whether lining up is anathema to Eurasian culture. I don’t know if I can stand four hours on the train with him. It kills me, I’m realizing, how such a knob gets slobbered with so much attention.