The Delight of Patriarch’s Ponds

For some reason, I never made it to Patriarch’s Ponds before the present trip to Russia. The “Ponds” (actually just one) are perhaps best known for their part in the opening scene of Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, which opens with a stranger approaching Berlioz and predicting his imminent death by beheading by a young Soviet woman. He is killed by an oncoming tram (though, admittedly, there are no tracks at the ponds). About a year ago, a small tribute to the classic novel mysteriously appeared at the pond, a fitting tribute to the book that made them famous.

"It is forbidden to talk to strangers." A slight reworking of the novel's famous line.

“It is forbidden to talk with strangers.” A slight reworking of the novel’s famous line.

The fact that I never made it on previous stints in Moscow astonishes me. Though I still haven’t spent a lot of time there — just passing through once a month ago and riding out the Georgian food coma along the banks just last week with Maria, from my Stanford cohort — I find the area one of the most pleasant little corners of Moscow. With tiny (and well-kept) streets unfriendly to cars (and thus nice for pedestrians), clean store-fronts, fashionable shops and restaurants, and wonderful people-watching along the banks of the tiny pond, Patriarch’s Ponds make for a lovely location to enjoy a lovely afternoon or evening.

Cloudy reflection on the ponds.

Cloudy reflection on the pond.

And ever since the temperature dropped nicely here a week or so ago (enjoying high-60s, lower-70s mostly), there have been lots of lovely afternoons and evenings. One of the nice things about my Russian summers is that though the days are filled with endless documents, there’s always time to while away an hour or two in the evenings, enjoying the weather, the sites, and the people-watching, at least if you know where to go.


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