Masha is My 30-piece Nesting Doll

Masha is My 30-piece Nesting Doll

Moscow, Russia - The year was 1997. My 16 year old daughter and I walked down the Arbat pedestrian zone looking for a souvenir in this former artists colony. Snow covered the ground.  It was biting cold. We wore thermals, winter jackets, scarfs and hats. 

And then, standing erect at a 10'x10' outdoor stall, I saw Masha for the first time. She was beautiful, ornate, looking very Orthodox, but seemed to glow in the drab and dark afternoon. The seller, a young man in his 20's, wanted $500 in cash. I smiled, said thank you, and politely stepped away. 

"Meester! Wait Meester! How much? How much do you pay for her?

"I'm sorry," I said. "That is too much. The weather is so cold, we must leave. I really want her, and I have cash, but no, I cannot do that."

"You have cash?  How much? How much do you pay?"

"I have $150 right here," I said. "See, here it is. What do you think?"

"No. Impossible. My boss will say no. $400?"

"Thank you but I have to go now. I really want that doll. But this is all I have."

We continued walking down the street for another 30 minutes but the windchill took it's toll. We backtracked our steps, and struggled by the stand again, our heads bowed in the wind. Masha was staring at me, pleading for a warm home.

"Hey, how is it going? Did you sell many dolls today?" I asked.

He looked at me with a blank stare. No answer. 

I handed him the $150. "It's up to you," I said. 

"Ok. Take her. You steal her from me."

I named her Masha and for the last 25 years she stands guard in my office. 30 piece dolls like her sell in high end Moscow shops for $3000. 

Now, if only she could make coffee ......

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