Izmaylovo Market: Of Fur and Typewriters

The kitsch of Izmaylovo Market is something one either loves or can’t stand. Personally I don’t mind it. But the group I’m here with – hoooo boy are they offended by it.

Mission of the day: moral support for our friend, who is obsessed with getting a fur coat from the flea market. I know what you’re thinking: fur coat and flea market sound like a suspicious combination. But there’s no changing one’s mind once it’s set on a goal, so here we are.

I break away from the group, moving towards the trinkets area. I’ve been here twice already, and I wanted to pay my respects to the object I’ve been lusting over: a Cyrillic typewriter.

I can’t justify buying one; it’s too bulky, too heavy to lug around from country to country, so I’ve been holding myself back. I still want it, I groan inwardly as I stand before it once again. The seller doesn’t recognise me, and why should he — he must have had thousands of people pass by his stand since the last time I was here — though we did have a nice long chat where he had proudly declared, I never forget a face. I’m aware that I’m forgettable, but still, fairly insulted here.

The next stall sells Lenin pins, Lenin statuettes (and amongst them a lone Che Guevarra bust), boxes filled with old coins. The next stall: gas masks, the kind you’d don before taking refuge underground as the city sirens go off. There are scratches on the glass plates and I imagine the wearer suffocating, clawing at it, not being able to take it off, poison gas seeping into the helmet in the most ironic twist of fate.

There you are, says my friend, annoyed, who tugs at my bag to lead me all the way to the fabrics section of the market. I found it, she informs our group, swinging the fur over her shoulders in a dramatic sweep. What do you think?

I admit it’s beautiful on her. Maybe second-hand is the only way to go, when it comes to fur? Isn’t it normally passed down from one generation to the next, in general? The owner of this coat probably had no family to pass it on to. She must have frittered away in a retirement home, no one claiming her body until someone hauled her box of belongings off to some second-hand store which eventually ended up here. Or it could be the seller’s stepmother’s fur, a reviled woman whose family wanted to be rid of all her memories and belongings as soon as she passed, and dumped her coat in the market on the way back from the funeral.

After egging her on with words of encouragement, our friend pays an insane amount for the coat. As we retrace our steps through the market towards the metro I show her the typewriter. Oh darling, she sighs. Keep your money for something else. That thing is so unnecessary.

Currently listening to:
Aphex Twin
… I Care Because You Do

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