When Aleksey Dmitrievich Popov turned sixty, we – still students of the Theatre Institute – were charged with buying him a gift. So we went off shopping. It wasn’t easy work to find a gift for Popov. You could buy anybody else a crystal vase. Or a rare antiquarian book.
But Aleksey Dmitrievich, it seemed to us, would be glad to receive a different sort of gift, one which absolutely wouldn’t have caught our eye. We all spread out, from luxurious, bright leather briefcases with two big buckles to impossibly expensive Palekh boxes, and settled on – what do you think? – a big wicker basket, which we filled with carpentry and garden tools: planes, all-purpose saws, files, scissors. And on top we laid a massive number of bright packets with flower seeds. That’s how we understood Popov’s taste, and weren’t mistaken: after a few years, Aleksey Dmitrovich admitted to us, that he liked that gift more than all the others.