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Showing posts from January, 2013

Won't You Be My Neighbor (whether you'd like to or not.)

“People are almost always better than their neighbors think they are.”  ― George EliotMiddlemarch
The first 10 days of the New Year in Russia are 10 days of vacation for all Russians.  And just like every other day of the year, one celebrates within earshot of one's upstairs, downstairs, and next-door neighbors.
Surprisingly, concrete walls insulate very little - there is not much that is not heard or overheard within the close confines of city life here.  Neighbors know each other here well, despite any formal introductions or intentional time spent together.  Every celebration, every argument, every bark, bawl, and cry takes place under the assumption that someone's listening.  I remember the accordion music, drums, dancing, and yelps commemorating the marriage of our upstairs neighbors' daughter when we first moved in.  About nine months later, many of the same sounds were repeated, accompanied by a recurring newborn's cry about every three hours all night long fo…