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The Spring Of Light

March - April 1996

As always in these pages, you can click on a small inline picture in the text and get a larger full-color, postcard-sized image.

Unlike a novel, our life is often not built around any plot or interesting topic. It's great if you stop to think about it, but not very helpful for writing monthly reports about everyday life. Weeks pass with nothing special happening, and they are not dull or boring for me. Interesting job, parties with friends, good books, all that makes sense but hardly may be used as a material for writing another story at Friends and Partners.

So where is the answer? Let me this time mostly show you assorted pictures taken on the run - while doing something else. There is no coherent story uniting them... or maybe there is not a story, but sunny light. All these pictures were taken in late March and early April. This season is often called in Russia "The Spring of Light". This is the season when it's still cold and the snow is more probable to fall from the overcast sky than the rain. Still, one can feel the spring coming. Smell it in the rain, see it in the colors of skies, landscapes, and even cityscapes.

March was a busy month for me. Soon after coming back home to Moscow from Crimea, I had to go to St. Petersburg for one day, to make a presentation and to talk to some possible partners there. The sun was generous and those few minutes I spent in the streets there were very pleasant. Petersburg is beautiful in the other way than Moscow, in the more ordered and classical style. A row of houses along the river even in the old and not very fashionable area of the city looks very stylish. Of course, if you turn your head and look the other way, you may be surprised to find a junkyard with a bleached sign saying "International Academy". There are lots of these slightly strange and sometimes suspicious organizations all over the country with loud names of International-this, World-that, and Global-something-else... What is really surprising, some people do trust these impressive names and invest their money in or take very expensive courses at such places. More often than not, they are slightly upset with the results later.

The churches of St. Petersburg deserve a separate and very big Web server. The same is true, of course, for museums, bridges, streets of this city too. But this time I was not enjoying the city as a tourist. On the way from the office to the apartment where we planned to continue our discussions in a less formal manner, I had a chance to ask for one stop and to take a picture of only one spot... Do you feel the spring in the light here?

Speaking of the apartment we were heading to... It was a funny place. In a house almost falling apart and badly needing a serious repair and remodeling, we entered a very typical apartment. Once, before the revolution of 1917, it obviously was a residence of some wealthy person. Later city authorities decided to cut big rooms and halls into many small separate cubicles for many families. A very popular decision in the 20s... The result in this particular case was a small two-room apartment with impossibly high ceilings still bearing fragments of old paintings and even sculptures.... And no kitchen at all. However, in the corner of this strange but very cozy place I found a home office meeting some American standards... Two powerful PCs, a laser printer, a fax, a modem and direct Internet connectivity... Misha (, a networking expert and at the same time an activist of different environmental and naturism organizations was looking absolutely fantastic in his favorite corner.

After that busy Friday in St. Petersburg I took a night train back to Moscow. The most efficient way to travel between these two cities. It takes 8 and a half hours to get from one to the other. Just the right time to get a nice sleep and not to waste a single hour...

On the weekend, we had an interesting event to watch in Moscow. On March 17, there was St. Patrick's parade on the New Arbat in Moscow. It's a really entertaining event that recently became a new Moscow tradition. People seem to like it a lot, and the sidewalks are crowded with the spectators.
Russian military band opens the parade... followed by the nice girls (and nice dogs too, because on that day they invite all the owners of Irish setters to come and join the march). All sorts of Irish companies producing foods and drinks take part in the parade and combination of Bailey's trucks and Russian folk dancers and street actors looks very neat.
I mean it, there is something in this holiday in green colors that fits perfectly the joyfulness of Russian early spring.

Weekends pass quickly and Mondays come when you have to go to work again. On a bright spring morning it's nice sometimes to forget about metro and other powerful public transportation systems... and to walk all the way from home to office enjoying the early business hours in the streets. After our office has moved recently, it takes me 40 minutes to get there walking. The views on the way are typical streets of downtown Moscow. The Central Department Store and the endless smaller shops around.... The gleaming brown glass walls of McDonalds towering at the end of Kamergerski pereulok...
Then the restaurant itself with parking lot near it full at any time... And finally, here we are, near our nice building at Gazetny pereulok, 50 meters from McDonalds, where our offices occupy the third floor. Behind these windows there are many computers, all on live Internet, and the people at the desks are doing their best to bring this Internet connectivity to every family or company in Moscow that needs it. GlasNet reception staff, software developers, and user support team, my colleagues and friends, are already there. It's time to join them, to drink a cup of strong coffee and to check the news on the Net and in the mail... And to answer some your letters that come every night.

Andrey Sebrant -

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