In Moscow, I did keep a throw blanket, but it was an inexpensive one I picked up at Ikea and was rarely unfolded. Why? Because if you’re inside in Moscow in the winter, it’s practically impossible to be cold. Every year about Oct. 15, the radiators in Moscow apartments start hissing and its time to take advantage both of the practice of layering and that little half-window known as a fortachka.
Many people complain about the centralized heating systems, and I do see the point—you can’t control the temperature and it can be stifling, especially if you live, as I did, on a high floor of a Stalin-era apartment building. Heat rises, and buildings constructed from giant stones tend to retain it well. But on the other hand, there’s nothing like the relief of coming in from the snow and ice into a building that is reliably warm and, legacy of socialism that it is, the system assures that everyone has heat, whether they can pay for it or not.
Now as I look at the thermostat, seeing every degree as a dollar sign, I find it impossible to turn the dial higher. Instead, I find my blanket and try to move as little as possible. And this is the legacy of capitalism—here in Washington, I choose the uncomfortable temperature for myself and therefore have no one else to blame.
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