My husband arranged the travel of 60 heads, including us, to Moscow, Minsk, Riga and Tallin. I had no idea of the plans so I went with the flow. We arrived in Moscow, or Moskva as the Russians call it, and got stuck in the serpentine immigration queue for more than an hour before experiencing the pleasant weather and neat roads outside. We followed our tour guide obediently because she was blunt and to the point. If people say that I am a little too straightforward, they should meet the Russians in Russia. Even their ice-cream is as stiff and cold as they are. Some are courteous but some seem to have woken up from the wrong side of the bed.
I had a burden on my head every time my daughter or I needed to visit the lavatory. It had no hand faucet or a tap. When I visited the toilet at the airport, I almost fainted with the awful stink because (be ready for this) the lady before me pooped and probably cleaned up with only a tissue as water is very expensive here. To my luck, at least in our hotel room, the bidet saved the day. Phew!
It was a tiring journey with two kids, but it had to be done. As soon as we reached the hotel, we went on a tour and then headed to lunch on the Radisson Cruise. It was amazing and worth the deprived sleep. Of course, our pram was quite a boon. We got back and took a nap. The sun sets at around 2130 hours so when I opened my eyes, I asked my husband how come the sun had not set and he laughed. Apparently, my husband, kids and I slept at 1900 hours the previous day and woke up at 0730 hours the next day. Little did I know that the sun had set and risen back while I was sleeping.
Our hotel was opposite the Kremlin territory and the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral could partially be seen from it. The place was stunning to the eye, even at night. There is a round golden coin on the floor on which you had to stand and throw a coin behind you for luck. My daughter and I love doing crazy things like this. A huge bell with a piece of it on the ground was captivating too. I climbed the wall to take a picture before the guards came whistling after me. The art inside the biggest Cathedral was mesmerizing with chandeliers made of bronze or silver.
The metro train station, built in the 1930s, had a revolutionary theme to it. They said if you touched the dog in one of the statues, it is supposed to bring you good luck. That was the second thing I had done for luck so am keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for a million dollars to fall in my lap.
Despite the fossil structures all over Moscow, what amazed me was the cleanliness, traffic discipline, pedestrian discipline and passenger discipline. We were ‘forbidden’ from standing in the bus like we all do back home in India when going on a picnic or to work. We were ‘forbidden’ from putting our foot on any part of the road unless we had to cross it ONLY on a zebra crossing. It was overwhelming when the drivers waited for us to cross because in India we have to dodge our way through any lane or road because of a fear, we carry around, of getting hit by a two or four wheel vehicle.
The buildings look professional because no one has the guts to hang their clothes in the balcony. I also noticed that even the Indians didn’t dare to throw a chocolate wrapper on the streets. One of our mates even picked up their chocolate wrapper and walked all the way to throw it in a bin making me wonder if he would do the same in his own country.
The Gorky Park was something that made me feel that India had the potential, as well as the resources, to have one of these but alas none of our rulers have a vision for the future. Each one wants to do things only to fill up their own pockets. The park was a gigantic area of several activities for toddlers up till the elderly. They had a green area for the new walkers to fool around with their feet and if your bones allowed you to jump on the trampoline, who is anyone to stop you from doing that, right? Why can’t we implement all this here in India? Is it because of corruption over quality?
My husband and I take turns to party at night when on a holiday so off I went, leaving my loved ones behind and ready to enjoy the night. I had a blast. After a long time, I left a party at sunrise. I felt I was still alive and living not just surviving to bring up my kids. We girls want to have fun too. We also need a break from the kids.
Despite the cleanliness and strict discipline in Moscow, the reason I still want to live in India, is because even tough cigarettes are funnily not banned like beef and Maggi (which were supposed to have animals and chemicals in them), smoking in public places is prohibited. Of course, there are always hopeless people who do not follow the rules but generally you won’t get choked with smoke or have a runny nose or even lung cancer, legally.