Moscow, Day Two. -- The day started well. I had my breakfast while practicing on my (cardboard) piano. Amazing performance. -- Next followed the fright of the day. I was told, first, that because of the Western sanctions against Russia, foreign credit cards are no longer accepted here, and, second, that I would only be paid in four weeks time. Spot the problem? Spare *Care* packages anyone? Wait, don’t send them off quite yet. I tried the local bank a few hours later, and was able to withdraw a small amount. I’ll be back tomorrow to see if I can repeat the trick. Maybe I won’t lose weight after all. -- For lunch I met up with a colleague from another university. We took the Metro line 1 to the famous, old and beautiful “Park-Kultury” station (it even has its own Wikipedia page), and walked on from there to a marvelous Georgian restaurant (“Guriya”). The entrance is stuffed with dead animals, including a bear, but that should put you off only if you are a hard-line vegan. The mushroom soup was out of this world. The Georgian version of ravioli was okay too, though I don’t get why they come without a sauce. For dessert I had berries in honey. Weight-loss? What weight-loss? -- I learnt more about how you can keep academics from criticizing the government. You only give them contracts for five years at a time. And their contracts require them to abstain from political activities on campus. Most get the message. -- There are some other features too that strike me as remnants of the Soviet era. Low efficiency and a weak spot for men in uniforms come to mind. Low efficiency first. Every subway station has several ticket machines, but also several counters. The sales-personal is dressed in 1950s cleaning smocks and so rash that only the foreign philosophy professor will be stupid enough to buy his ticket from them. Even better, at the end of every escalator in the underground sits a person whose only task is to guard a red emergency button. There are lots of security guards, policemen and soldiers on the street, in shops and in the university. To enter the university compound, I need to show my guesthouse registration ticket every time. And it took twenty minutes of phone-calls and rushing back and forth to get my lunchtime accomplice through the gate to hear my talk at 7pm. Locals tell me that the university guards are there to protect us from terrorists. Why don’t I feel reassured? -- I gave a “training lecture” on how to get an ERC Grant. It was videotaped and will appear on the Youtube channel of RANEPA soon. The question session was lively and lasted for an hour. The students were well-informed and clever. -- I look forward to the second lecture tomorrow. Over and out.