A return to Washington
Arvamus 26 Jul 2010  EWR
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Edward Lucas, Eastern Approaches, Economist.com

Taking the temperature of America’s relations with its allies in the ex-communist world is the reason that I am in Washington this week. But the temperature that matters is on the street: a sweltering 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40-odd degrees Celsius). As some readers may know, I enjoy a banya (sauna) whenever I can get it (and have one in my garden at home in London). So faced with a blast of hot moist air, my instinct is to take off all my clothes and rub myself with Estonian sauna honey (a concoction of honey, salt and juniper oil), before beating myself and my neighbour vigorously with a bunch of birch twigs, and searching for an icy lake to jump in. Better not try that in America.

I used to live in Washington and know the city well. But after a few months away, it takes a little adjustment. An attractive young lady greets me in the street with a warm “Hi, how are you?” I panic, thinking that she is a former intern, or an American official, and I have rudely, or senilely, forgotten her name. But my “nice to see you again—how are things at your end?” makes her looks baffled and slightly suspicious. She is collecting signatures for a petition.

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