Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

18 Jun 2001, 12:20 p.m.

An American Desi in Leningrad

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Even yet as quick! I will try and post a great deal tomorrow. As it is, if I take more than about five minutes on this, I'll be late home and my Russian host mother will get worried, and I'd rather not call (I think she's napping).

By the way, thanks for all your encouragement on posting my experiences here in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. I'm having lots of fun and lots of aching and lots of new experiences. I'm glad to share them with you.

Late Saturday night, I think it was -- yes, it must have been -- we took a boat ride through the canals and waterways that span the city. The main river is the Nyeva. It was magnificent. The moment when we came out of a canal into the huge bay was amazing. It's the Belli Nochi, the White Nights, remember? St. Petersburg is pretty far north, so right now we only get a little tiny bit of darkness.

When night is only half an hour
Kogda noch tolko pol-chasa
And I read and write without a lamp
Ee ya chitayoo ee peeshu byez lampa

I think it goes something like that. Pushkin. My host mother recited it to me. Gee, Russians really do love Pushkin.

When I saw the blue-black waves going past the boat (or the boat going past the waves?), I thought of perspective, and of relativity.

Draw a line
To represent
Your plane and mine

The bridge on the river Nyeva went up to let boats pass, as it does every night during summer. The crowds celebrated. Champagne corks popped, and cheers bounced from bank to bank, and fireworks -- modest ones, now, this is twice a night for weeks that the bridges go up on the Nyeva -- lit up the twilight.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at