Published: May 28th 2009May 28th 2009
Last Day - 11 May 2009
In the last 4-5 days I had visited the Red Square a number of times but somehow, had not yet stepped inside the GUM. On our last day n Moscow, we decided to visit the GUM and also the old haunts of Avi, namely Detskii Mir and the Bolshoi Theater.
‘Detskii Mir’ was to Russian children what the ‘Toys R Us’ to American kids. It is always a source of wonderment to me how fast children learn to recognize the ‘Toys R Us’ stores. My granddaughter Mitali used to point to ‘Toys R Us’ and insist that we go there when she was barely two years old, whenever we drove by it.
Avi was a regular customer of ‘Detskii Mir’ (Again, I am talking of 37 years back.) because our elder daughter was 4 months old that time. He had brought back lots of toys for her.
However, we had decided to visit Bolshoi Theater first because the Metro line took us directly there.
As soon as we came out of the Metro station, we turned left and there it was - the grand Bolshoi Theater. I stopped to admire
it but Avi walked straight ahead. I thought he wanted to take a photo of Karl Marx’s statue, situated in a garden on the opposite side of the road. It looks as if he is just emerging out of a block of stone.
After some time Avi came back and asked me, “Why you did not come to Bolshoi Theater?”
“This is the Bolshoi Theater.” I said pointing to the majestic building right in front of me. My good old friends (the three ‘Touts’) were lounging near the ticket-office and waiting for a gullible customer, who would buy the ‘cheap’ Bolshoi tickets from them.
“That is not the Bolshoi Theater.” Avi proclaimed.
“Of course it is. Can’t you see the three touts there? Why otherwise they would be here if it is not Bolshoi?” I demanded.
“Come, I will show you the Real Bolshoi.” Avi said and took me where the huge, regal façade of a grand building was marred by a big hoarding. The ‘old’ Bolshoi Theater was being reconstructed. Its garden had become the dumping ground for construction materials. Only the fountain was still playing.
What I had thought was the ‘Bolshoi
Theater’ was the ‘New Stage”, which is also a grand building but does not compare with the ‘real’ Bolshoi Theater.
We sat for some time watching the fountain play, but the condition of the Bolshoi Theater was making Avi depressed. His nostalgia had suffered a big jolt, so we left there and went to Kitay-Gorod, to see what ‘Detskii Mir’ had to offer.
It had nothing to offer. It had closed down.
This was the third jolt to Avi. First Ukraina Hotel, then Bolshoi Theater, and now Detskii Mir!
However, the massive ‘Lubyanka’ (Headquarters of KGB and Prison), which is just opposite Detskii Mir, is still just as it was 37 years back. It is the sort of indestructible Building , that does not need any repairs, perhaps, because nothing could even dent it.
Avi was feeling very low because his three favorite haunts of yesteryear were closed down, so we decided to go to GUM and see what changes have occurred there.
The GUM building is as it was 37 years back but it has been completely taken over by the American business houses. In fact, now it looks like any American mall.
I was very tired, so with a fond last look at the Basilica, we parted company. I went to the hotel to have a nap and Avi confidently went to Moscow University because he was sure it had not changed.
The best view of Moscow is to be had from the Moscow University because it is on a hill, and yes, Avi was not disappointed.
It has not changed at all in 37 years.
In the evening, we had a nice party with our friend and his wife from Bulgaria, who are now in Moscow on deputation
There are more photos below