The Taiga Home Companion

In October 1992 I was out of college, unemployed, and living at home. Not knowing what to do with myself, I toyed with the idea of going down to Chile, where I could polish my Spanish, hike up mountains, and drink wine. But then Ian called from Beijing. "Don't go to Chile," he said. "Come to Moscow, where there are plenty of jobs and people who love you."

Ian had never (and has yet to) steered me wrong. So I read War and Peace, learned the Cyrillic alpabet, and packed a duffel with warm clothes and essential Chinese and Indian condiments. On February 10, 1993, I landed in a Moscow snowstorm.

Among the many, many favors Ian did for me was to get me signed up with Glasnet, a non-profit Russian Internet provider that is part of the apc network. Though I had never used the Internet before, I had enough experience with intra-office e-mail to realize that I could send the same e-mail message to a long list of recipients, thus sparing myself the need to describe to each curious friend and family member the same observations about life in Russia. Thus was born the Taiga Home Companion, a series of e-mail messages read by up to two dozen people at a time.

Some of those people passed around printouts and photocopies to people I don't even know, and there was enough interest among those indirect recipients that I have decided to share the Taigas with the general public. So here they are. I look forward to your comments.