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Half an hour to go. “The Ruins” is a friendly, familiar name

we came up with for a factory dormitory, abandoned before

we came on the scene, slated for demolition but not

demolished either during perestroika or the new years

since. All that remained was the skeleton of a building, with

cavernous stairwells, winding corridors where decay

erected barricades, the chewed remnants of rooms with bits

of ceiling and black circles on the floor from fires, for which

the firewood was passed through small side windows.

Behind the hostel loomed the factory, – brown brick, the

huge machinery we never saw and which had lived its

mysterious life here long since removed. It was dire inside,

gnawed away, as if gouged out by an explosion. On the end

wall was a rickety staircase, narrow and rusty, shaky and

precarious, which we nevertheless climbed to the roof and,

settling ourselves between the air intake towers, had a

different view of the world, the view from the Ruins.

For us, this was a city within the city, a smithy forging the

undying spirit of anarchy, a laboratory, a Bastion St Gervais

where life is brighter than in law-abiding areas not strewn

with broken glass or bits of plaster. It was a place for

bohemians of the future to exchange experience with young

desperadoes, where you were with us or against us, and

bats flitted like silhouettes; girls came, both the most

intelligent, deserving and brave, and the skankiest and

most undemanding, dumb but sly. Here I met Tanya, three

years older than me who, half-joking, took me by the hand,