Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Jul 2001, 6:08 a.m.

Feelings Mixed -- Shaken, not Stirred

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 So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it!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.

Argh! I really should write several entries very soon, about my mixed feelings about mixed -- or any -- alcoholic drinks, and about the last few days of my Moscow trip a few days ago. But I will have to put those off till I have a bit more time. How do you do, hectic life?

Yesterday, I met a fella who looked remarkably like Ben Affleck. When I used my poor Russian to tell him so (I'm never quite sure how to use pohozh), he quite graciously noted that, before, [people had told him that] he resembled Hugh Grant. He told me that he's a musician. Seems as though a lot of people around these parts ID as artists of some sort. St. Petersburg as, once again, the SanFran of Russia.

Moscow: Real Soon Now.

Food. I miss Mario's La Fiesta in Berkeley. Today I played tour guide (the topic was Directions/Locations in Grammar class) and I could have talked for 20 minutes about Berkeley. "And across from Rasputin is Cody's..."

And yesterday I was in a restaurant, where -- as is usual in Russia if there's not enough space -- I was seated at a largish table with a stranger, another solitary customer. She started a conversation with me -- unusual, as usually in these arrangements the two parties don't communicate. (Think Misha & the American Gang from the first part of my unfinished Moscow travelogue.) Turns out that she's a native Leningrader who's been in New York for the past five years to study... accounting. (?!) We spoke in English.


  1. I prefer the Russian solitude/privacy-preserving custom of NOT trying to start a conversation in every instance. Maybe I like the apparatchiks for just doing their jobs and not trying to make a specific relationship into a diffuse one.
  2. I dislike the lack of a formal second-person pronoun in modern spoken English. I wanted to use vui to imply respect and distance, and I couldn't. I felt as though I were taking a liberty.

Sandwich boards. I have seen men wearing sandwich boards to advertise really unlikely-seeming products and services.

  1. Currency exchange.
  2. Strip show. Krasota ("beauty," and yes, John, I'm sure, because every morning on the bus I pass a salon labeled, in Russian and French respectively, "Salon Krasoti"/"Salon de Beaute").
  3. ISP. This one cracks me up. It's a first-wave ad for a third-wave product. It's like billboards with URLs.

Whenever I see someone wearing a sandwich board, I think -- rather facetiously -- Oh yeah, that's why I'm in college."

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at