Moscow is a city of museums and art galleries. There are so many of them in the city that you may spend all the weekends of a year to see them. I had heard about Tretyakov art gallery and Pushkin museum far away in New Delhi. The first thing I did after coming to Moscow was to visit Tretyakov. This gallery opened my eyes to the beautiful world of Russian painters and paintings. It inspired me to know more about Indian paintings and painters. Fortunately I could lay my hands on The Anthology of Modern Indian Paintings edited and compiled by Neville Tuli. This book came to me as a sheer delight and opened up a completely different world of Indian modern paintings and painters. It was pure education. I carried on satisfying my newly found curiosity. I found another very absorbing and interesting work by Rashida Siddiqui “In Conversation with Husain Paintings”. The book demystifies the mystic persona of India’s most well known painter today M.F.Husain. Inspired by the play of the colures on the canvass I felt like painting and I started looking for themes to paint. I remember thinking a few themes to paint a long time back but I never dared to touch the paint and the brush. Moscow somehow took away the fears from me to hold the brush and take on the canvass. So one day I visited the Central House of Artists, a 5 minute walk from the place I lived, and bought a few brushes and paint and a canvass. I waited then for the right moments when in the fit of inspiration one does great things. I did get one such night when I felt very suffocated due to unknown reasons and I took out my feelings on the canvass, not exactly canvass but what I did that I was too hesitant to spoil the canvass so I did some hand work and a made a canvass out of the thermal wear dubba ( case for packing clothes) and painted a young girl dressed in black holding a red rose in her hand standing in a cemetery. While painting I realized that I could not do so many things with the limited instruments I had so I could not express myself completely. For example I wanted to show soft moon lit background and shadows of the trees but then I needed to have more instruments and more skills- difficult for a beginner. So that’s the story of my first painting and thus I put the first step in the wonderful world of colors and paintings.
I visited the Pushkin museum one Saturday. The collection of sculptures is just mind-blowing here. On the way to find Pushkin museum I stumbled into the newly built “Christ the Savior” church. People say that there was an ancient church here but during Soviet times it was converted into a swimming pool by Stalin. In post Soviet times there has been a great revival in religion in Russia and one can see huge number of people going to the church to offer prayers. The newly built “Christ the Savior” church is gigantic in size and the interior walls and domes have paintings depicting many pictures of the Jesus Christ, many other saints and the stories from the holy Bible. It’s a monument which truly captures the spirit of new Moscow and a new Russia, “a brand new start but traditions intact”.
So far I think I have been able to do some of the most important things one should do while staying in the beautiful city of Moscow- to watch Ballet at Bolshoi and Russian Circus. In my plan of things I had kept these two somewhere long way from my arrival in Moscow one fine morning of 16th August, but it happened so that a colleague of mine has to leave Moscow in a few months and so the hurry to do everything in the last few months which were not done in the last few years (you know the guilt feeling), so I tagged along a watched the famous “Don Quixote by Cervantes” in ballet adaptation. I had to shell out quite substantial sum to have this pleasure but then I thought for a while “Life is after all about pleasures” so let it be. I must confess I’ll cherish the memories of that evening for a very long time to come and it was worth every Kopek. I had the good luck to see the circus also. Russian circus is a Khichari (combination) of the dare devil antiques, a discotheque, lot of skin show, musicals, poor elephants! (animals in general) etc. The Russian circus deserves at least one visit despite its limitations.
I have shifted to a new flat which I can call my own. So far I had been living in a very big house (which I did not like), a transit accommodation since one and half month. I was not alone in this big house. I had the company of a huge army of cockroaches who made it sure that I am not left alone. They liked popping up while I ate, crawled over my body while I slept and hanged around leisurely while I cooked. Now I am in a new house I really miss them. Some of them had figured it out I guess that I am going to be alone in my new house so they just hid themselves in my luggage somewhere or the other just to surprise me in my new house. I had suffered in their company for long so I got rid of them immediately but now I miss them.
Yesterday was a holiday. I got ready early in the morning to pay floral tributes to Bapu on his birthday the 2nd October. All member of the Indian mission in Moscow gathered in front of the statue Bapu in Lomnosovski. This is for the first time I have ever been to pay floral tributes to Bapu ever. The scene was interesting. Indians from all over the country were meeting in the capital of a different country and celebrating the birthday of our dear Bapu-the father of the nation. School kids started by singing Bapu’s song “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”, the sweet words and melodies touched my soul. We all closed our eyes and prayed for the unity of the people of India and peace and harmony in the whole world.
One gets to know India more staying outside India. I had this opportunity to see puppets from all over India for the first time in the Oriental Arts Museum in Moscow. This event “Putul Yatra”is part of the Indian cultural week in Russia. So far I only knew about “Kathputli”, a very popular form of puppets from Rajsthan. Here I saw four forms of puppets- string puppets, glove puppets, rod puppets and shadow puppets, from the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu besides Rajsthan which is very popular for its puppets.
Tsereteli Art gallery is an amazing place in Moscow. Tsereteli is a living legend. The amount of work he has done is just tremendous. Any new sculpture or monument worth admiring in Moscow is by Tsereteli. A planet has been named after this man. I had the good fortune to see him, meet him, talk to him, ask him questions about his famous “Apple” and get his autographed book as gift. This man works tirelessly day and night and he is so humble that cannot be expressed in words. Anybody in Moscow must go to this art gallery- it’s a MUST visit.