We return to our conversation with ex-Ekat resident M, in our endeavour to dig deeper in the past to understand the present.
Unknown Territories, part 6
Damn this city’s ongoing memory of yellow pallor, fed from the arterial coiling of smoke-stacks and rumbling exhausts winding up, up; to a sub cloud-layer of industrial ochre that lounges across the immediate panorama. Pray for wind on (maybe) a clear day, or for winter when the graphs spike lower, the icy dry-cold stifling the needle-peaks pillow-like and holding, till spring shall relinquish that grip and the wheel-spin starts another cycle: enough! and slowly the charts will plot their lumbering rise again.
Damn the live-testing moonscapes of ruined Urals, the brick by brick factories shifted East and West under Stalin to suck on deep-set, minerally-nutritious steel straws or to pick from conveyor belts and hefty lorry-loads of treasures; black, grey and soil-brown with wealth revealed under the scrutiny of furnaces and crushing-machines or scanners and clicking detectors: one particle at a time. All scraped and hollowed from under the skins of mountains, courteously raised through twisting veins and seams, and timed to the glacial pulse of Earth’s internal surface-wards shift towards its resolution of cracking faults and plates, and with nuggets and gems spilling between.
Damn all of this and the legacy that brought M here with it’s dour-resistant expressions glancing him off left and right from their re-constructed history of expertly re-taught, re-learnt truths and assumptions that exist now merely to be dealt-with, their true purpose spent. To be fielded on a daily basis from office to office, and in these spaces between, where he now glides as a crow through ranks of ancient sputtering machines labelled steely: “Kamaz”, whose rigid paths are mirrored in the strict right-side pavement protocol of the locked-on, smile-less conveyor-belt entering/exiting block-edifices of cement, or trickling downstream to lives and destinies unknown.
No respirator-warnings for their traffic jams, nor cold-war agendas in the handshakes he extends by return. Forget all these things that we know, that they know, but don’t, but do in a world where anything can be found possible were you to look hard enough to prove your point. If you must. If you think that will help. M has set a shoulder towards productive endeavour here: to push at a mindset; to free up city land to developers and real-lives by extension. Ever conscious of this fragile depth to where all the meetings and negotiations shall finally trickle down, he lays out his stall for his hosts and for a new, imported housing model, and quickly about it; now that the old providers have literally left the building.
Quickly now, hold the vodka and the chess, and the huge portraits of Lenin worn on the sleeve. He’s not from here and doesn’t get all of that. M sees the smiling Apparatchiks for what they really are: small cogs who have recently, gleefully inherited big and here he walks in on their party in its fullest swing. Now promoted by default to players and power brokers and with each cast as Godfather on their own small but elevated stage, this shall be about their rules and whims, and theirs alone. Talk of condominiums and housing maintenance takes second place to power’s heady rush and the real chance to make real money after years of “ass-covering” and restraint. Can you blame them?
Oh yes, but that, here and now will get you nowhere.
Outside, the blocks and land to be divided wait, tomorrow’s homed and homeless wait, the city and the traffic wait.
Gently does it M.
[Photo by peretzp]