On April 6, 2015, my mother arrived in my one-bedroom apartment after more than 24 hours of air travel and, after a quick nap, declared it was time for presents.
Out of her suitcase emerged an opaque industrial bag dotted with some austere cyrillics. Out of the bag tumbled a small pile of gruesome-looking metal parts. My trained Russian eye instantly summoned their reconstructed visual: My gift was a hand-crank meat grinder. Two-and-a-half pounds of aluminum, in a suitcase, flown overseas.