Communism stops the clock if nothing else. Once the curtain was lifted and the wall came down, it was like opening a time capsule. I missed East Europe in the early days, but Vietnam and Laos were revealing, with their Bolshevik architecture, Minsk motorcycles, and Russian cultural centers. Gray is the color of communism, unfinished concrete and cellblock apartments. All the joy is gone from life in a world devoted to dialectical materialism. Time stands still in a world without profit nor prophecy. Alcohol takes on new importance and sex is more than just going through the motions. You take what pleasure you can find in as much family as you can afford and hope for things to get better.