Some time in the last decade, I had come across a calendar with beautiful pictures of churches. The one that caught my eye was a Russian church….with multi-coloured onion shaped domes -it looked straight out of ‘Arabian Nights.’Such a charming church, so different…I had never seen the like of it before. I yearned to see it but knew a trip to Russia would never materialize.
But God had something else in mind. Before the year-end, out of the blue came a posting order for my husband.We were to shift to Moscow for a year. I was elated and quickly allayed my husbands qualms about going to Moscow because of the severe winters.
On the designated day we reached the Russian capital in the morning. As we were hovering over the sky I looked down to see a city shrouded in green.The houses were all hidden amidst dense foliage. As we drove towards the city I rolled down my window to get an unobstructed view as the city unfolded before my eyes. It was summer and Moscow seemed
to be basking in the glorious sunlight. Amidst the unending green we saw a sparkling stream, gurgling merrily on its way. Innumerable parks, all blazing with colours, dotted this vast city. We finally reached the hotel where we were to stay till we got possession of our apartment.
The second day we head out to see the famed Red Square, where the embalmed body of Lenin is kept for public display..On reaching the Square,the first thing that greeted my eyes was the church of my dreams….St.Basil’s Cathedral…as it is known in Moscow.I was overcome with emotions and tears of gratitude welled up my eyes.On the second day itself God had granted my wish .I cannot describe in words the beauty of this church….which looked more spectacular than in the picture. It was an overwhelming experience. and I thanked God from the core of my heart.
Every street and road in Moscow had some church or the other, all of them exquisitely beautiful. Every weekend we ,along with our chauffeur, who also doubled as our guide, visited some church.No matter how small the church, there was one thing in common….the interiors were very ornate, with carvings in gold colour, huge chandeliers and innumerable candles vying for the best spot at the altar. Besides these churches, we visited the Kremlin situated on the banks of the Moscova river.From the outside it looks like a massive fort guarding the seat of the Russian government, the Royal Palace and churches..While cruising down the Moscova river, the bobbing sail boats with their colourful sails added serenity to the whole panorama.
I found the women in Moscow very pretty and smartly- dressed. The local populace spoke nothing but Russian, so out of sheer necessity I had to learn some regular words. Of the few I had picked up, I still remember a handful like the word “kharoshey” (beautiful),”niyat”(no),” “dah” (yes),”musa”(husband) and of course the well-known “spasiba”( thank you)
Soon autumn announced its arrival with severe chill. The maple trees near our apartment had all started decking up in leaves of red and gold. They looked gorgeous in their new avatar. Before we realised, fall had given way to winter .There was a complete transformation – the trees had shed their leaves, and looked like bare-bodied sentinels guarding the apartments.
One morning we woke up to see the whole city blanketed in snow. Outside my window everything looked sparkling white as though they had been dusted with icing sugar. Since this was my first experience with snow I was exhilerated.It had become so cold that stepping out of the house from the warm confines of central heating was quite daunting.
But the overpowering urge to see Moscow in her snow – clad splendour got the better of us. Of course we had to protect ourselves with several layers of warm clothing. I was enjoying the crisp air of the chilly winter, taking in the sights, sound and smell of this season. All the
water bodies had frozen and people used them as pathways. Somewhere water pipes had burst and the water gushing out had instantly frozen into that weird looking shape. Seemed it just needed a magic wand to bring it back to running condition. It was now January , the temperature had plummeted to 28 degrees below zero and venturing out was sheer torture.The snow had hardened into ice and walking on the slippery surface needed some maneuvering, which we hadn’t mastered yet. So slipping and falling became a regular thing.
Before winter ended it was time for us to return home. I bid farewell to the city I had come to love and make my home for the past one year.
About the Author: Onku Ghosh: Schooling from St. Xavier’s School Bokaro Steel City and graduated with English Honours from Bethune College, Kolkata. Have been a homemaker, bringing up my only daughter who is now doing well in her field of work. Am interested in gardening,painting, cooking and writing poems.