Friday, 19 August 2011

19 August 1991

Do I remember August Putsch? Yes. Vividly. Early morning Monday, 19 August 1991, I heard the news on the radio. The classical music followed. On the telly, interminable Swan Lake, just like when Brezhnev (later: Andropov) died. I can’t stand Swan Lake ever since.

I was working on my Ph.D. thesis then. Just a couple weeks before the putsch, I did a presentation at the International Conference on Cytochrome P450 hosted by my institute. Some guys were interested and there was even talk of a postdoc stint somewhere in the States or Japan. The future looked bright.

I took a suburban train to Moscow. As I was walking from Park Kultury towards my lab, I saw the tanks on the streets: not-so-gentle reminder what country I was living in. This latter circumstance was about to change in two days though.