The concept of augmented reality (AR) is much touted on the Internet. The real world is supplemented with computer-generated elements that make this world more friendly and interesting. You just put on a wearable display (or take a hand-held) and navigate through visual reality being assisted by music, what-do-do-next prompts, animation, etc. The recent craze may be Pokémon who are chased, caught and trained to battle each other.

Funny, but I’ve just discovered that there’s nothing particularly new to me in the AR. I have always overlaid the outside world with my own images. The district where I’m staying now is overgrown with trees, but I see (quite clearly!) this district as a gigantic construction site, as it was before. Dozens upon dozens of red-brick four-and five-storey buildings (erected on the initiative of Nikita Khrushchev, and for this reason named “khrushchevkas) are stretching far over the horizon. Cranes are towering over them. No trees yet. The trees will be planted only in the coming March. And a few months later, on hot summer evenings all squares, precincts and footways will be filled with children and their parents, and there will be lots of shouts and laughter. Brightly lit windows will flood the whole area with electric light, and popular songs will be heard from radio gramophones (“radiolas”) placed on balconies or on window-sills. And no big deal if you haven’t got a radio gramophone: you’ll always be able to enjoy hits about a friend who is your “third shoulder” to support you, or about ships which you see off in a manner different from how you say farewell to trains, or about unmarried women weavers who work at   textile factory in a small town within easy reach from Moscow. Should you have no television, you may come to any open window on the ground floor and start listening to a World Cup football match from London. Pelé, Jairzinho, Geoffrey Hurst, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer… You don’t see them because the television is further in the room, but you hear the names of your idols and you imagine how they are playing…

This time the “Cheremushki” (the name of the district from the 1960s) is very quiet, dark at night and old. I open my window and peer into the darkness. And again  I see the shining windows, hear popular songs of those times, get ready again for exams in the wild-growing park (which doesn’t have any website yet :-)), see my children coming from school and telling us, their parents, how well they did there… In short, I’m building MY AUGMENTED REALITY…

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