As I was heading to Lynn, Massachusetts to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War with my 87-year old grandmother, I was picturing the moment she would put on her medals that project the stern faces of Brezhnev and Stalin on her olive colored military top that she ritualistically wears only once a year for the occasion.
The highly acclaimed Russian political drama, Leviathan, masterfully captures the key facets of Russian life under Putin, but also conveys the universal emotion of deep-ridden hopelessness in an individual’s attempt to override the structures of power.
I didn't know where Mrs Wu worked when I made an appointment with her. An old friend in Beijing introduced her as an expert in media and crisis management. It took a while to set up a meeting. Mrs Wu was changing times, or just not responding. I kept sending friendly reminders. Finally she agreed to 10:00am on Thursday morning.
Liang is a pretty woman in her mid-thirties, with olive skin and wondering eyes. She goes by the name Simona when she talks to foreigners. An American friend introduced me to her. He met her at a subway stop, while asking for directions.
My new office was located in a modern newly painted building. The China-Russia centre was a ghost centre, with many offices and very few people. I walked into my office and found two desks there, positioned next to each other. My new mentor was sitting at one of them, and I was to sit at the other.