Ants and the City

by Map on February 14th, 2009

In San Francisco this winter was unusually cold. I was told by Them Who Came Long Before Me that they don’t remember a winter quite as cold. I tried to ignore this abnormality of nature for as long as I could, but finally had to succumb to ugly reality and to break my habit of wearing the same T-shirt all year long.

Local population of ants had to acknowledge reality too. My friend, a biologist, said that her apartment was invaded by a colony of these little hard-working insects, apparently in search of warmth and humanity. My friend is rather old, so I was concerned about her and asked if she has an anti-ant spray and whether I should get her one. With gentle smile she said, “I don’t want to drive them away,” and suddenly I felt like a genocide perpetrator who has, in an act of inexplicable kindness, been reasoned with. Every time I visit her, I shake my head in disbelief and make a mark in my imaginary notebook,  “Yup. She is still talking to me.” :-)

How to spot your compatriot in a crowd

by Map on August 19th, 2008

Not difficult if you happened to be a Russian. Yesterday I was waiting in line in a pharmacy, and there was a woman before me who walked carefully, leaning heavily on her walker. Something was strange in her posture, and then I figured what it was: she was wearing shoes with high heels. Even before she started to talk to her husband I knew: she was a Russian.