Without mayonnaise, there could be no New Year in the Soviet Union. But you could never just buy mayonnaise. You could only get it, sometimes in a favor exchange, sometimes at a special distribution center for important people, like party members or employees of the commerce sphere, most of whom were party members also, so it was one and the same thing. Some trade union members could access mayonnaise, too, though I never figured out which ones; my mother’s union couldn’t.
Russia is no longer a country forged in the crucible of revolution; it is the land of the tsars and the Orthodox Church. Out went the relics of communism, with its mass demonstrations and portraits of Lenin; in came the relics of the Orthodox Church, with its miracles and icons. In the new lyrics of the national anthem, still sung to the old Soviet tune, “The unbreakable union of free republics” becomes “Russia, our sacred dominion.” In this revised version of Russian history, Vladimir Putin appears as the savior tsar.