On my third year anniversary, I find myself in another country. Neither my birth nor my adopted one. I am in beautiful, culture-rich, amazing Russia.
I don’t intend to turn my third anniversary post into a travelogue. Neither am I going to recommend where you should go and what you should do when you get here. Your feet and your heart will find the way, just like mine did.
What I do want to write about today is the many, many examples of amazing human beings that I have seen since I got here. The only question is where to begin.
I guess the best place, as Julie Andrews told us in the Sound of Music, is to start at the very beginning.
We landed in Moscow Domodedovo airport and looked for that most essential piece of equipment that keeps us connected to each other – a local SIM. We found it took barely 30 seconds for the salesperson to switch the SIM on our phone and activate the service. Even less than that to inform us of what came with it.
The next thing we learnt over the days here was that the taxi drivers were a culture by themselves. Whether it is the retro English music playing on every single taxi that we boarded, or the really helpful folks who helped us with translating our tickets and entry passes (as they were all in Russian).
They managed to communicate with us even though we didn’t share a single language in common. Some days we came across fans of Indian cinema who were eager to know what were the latest Bollywood releases that they could catch up on. While one wanted to know if Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan were alive, another wanted to know why they hadn’t acted in any new movies in a while.
Another one asked hopefully if Raj Kapoor was still alive.
While we had safe drivers for the most part, we discovered there were as many rash drivers as well. One of them laughed heartily on hearing me shriek when he executed a particularly close over take.
The other thing about the locals that inspired us was the culture of walking long distances effortlessly and briskly. Every single day we saw a huge number of locals going about their day, walking long distances a part of their psyche.
We also had the good fortune to witness many performers from different countries in a circus, performing feats that defied gravity and the limits of human endurance. The passion they brought to their art and the intensity of their drive took our breath away.
The next evening brought with it an experience of a different level. It was our first experience at the opera. Accompanied by a symphony orchestra that played mesmerizing compositions of Johann Strauss, the performers took us to another universe. For those couple of hours, we forgot everything else and lost ourselves in the music and the haunting voices of the opera singers.
Both performances we attended reminded us how some people dedicated their very life to the pursuit of mastering that one skill that was their passion and their drive.
One more beautiful concept we witnessed that will linger on in our memories forever, much like the intent of this fairly new tradition is the Love Bridge of Moscow. Situated on this bridge are trees of iron. We saw many brides and grooms visit the bridge and fix a padlock on one of the iron trees, and firmly throwing the key away, symbolizing their relationship cannot be broken, giving a sense of permanence to the commitment they have entered into by marriage.
Art lives here in various forms. Whether it is the circus acrobats or the symphony and opera performers or even the man in the farmers market creating wooden masterpieces with his deft hands, or the various murals and paintings that adorn the walls and spaces of the city, art is alive and kicking! Music, paintings, performances, handmade masterpieces… the list goes on and on.
Quite like the Matryoshka dolls, layer after layer of human inspiration reveals itself until you see it in all its glory and feel inspired to do more yourself.
My reasons for writing were reinforced right here in Russia. And as mykidneybeans completes three years and over a hundred posts, I came to a realization that brought me both hope for humanity and the promise of never ever ceasing to write.
For as long as such inspiring and wonderful humans inhabit this planet, this humble writer will faithfully bring their inspiring and wonderful stories to you.
Illustration Photo Credit – Yos Photography