"In the railway ticket offices they ask the price of a fare: sturdy old women, headscarved and slippered and so alike, superficially, that it is easy to discount them. The office barks and reply, and they consider the cost in disbelief. Then they consult together, return and ask: "Just for one ticket?".
They sit down, weary-faced, wondering about other means of transport. Next they enquire about concessions.
You long to help them. But their pride, or your sense of it, prevents this. You know that the West has won the Cold War, that its values appear to have prevailed. The old are more easily hurt now, because their world is slipping away, all that they fought for. The war veterans seem to wear their medals with a last-ditch defiance. So I let the old women trail away. I never did help one of them.
This is a passage of shame."

- Colin Thubron, In Siberia

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