A few weeks ago, I made a long-awaited trip to New York. It was the first after Donald Trump moved into the White House, and roughly a decade after I left the city to return to my native Russia.
When I was living in the United States in the mid-2000s, Russia wasn’t on the radar. I did not see any negative attitude towards my homeland, because there wasn’t even an attitude. Most people couldn’t care. Some were curious, but the curiosity was limited to culture or Putin’s bare chest, borsch or matters of history.
Today, things have changed. The words “Russia,” “Kremlin” and “Putin” are heard everywhere—from random people and on TV; from editors and readers, from friends and family. Every street corner is buzzing with discussions of Putin and Trump, of Trump and the Russian threat. In just a few days visiting, I heard more about Russia than I heard in a year living there.
My first day began with a familiar walk around Manhattan —past the Rockefeller Center, towards Central Park in bloom. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. Strollers strolled, runners ran, diners dined on restaurant verandas, and street musicians played to their audience. Everybody seemed to be having a good time. Until, that is, you reached Trump Tower.