Moscow – Catching Up (1981, 2003, 2006)

Moscow – Catching Up (1981, 2003, 2006)

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My first visit to Moscow was in 1981 at the height of the cold war. I accompanied my husband on his official trip and stayed in Moscow for five weeks. We stayed in the grand Hotel Russia for about a week and afterwards,rented an apartment in Kutzovsky Prospect. Ignorance of Russian language did not deter me from exploring the city, using its most efficient metro system.I visited some magnificent museums in Moscow and explored the Kremlin at leisure.

That year, even in May, there was a light carpet of snow. Brezhnev addressed a huge gathering in Red Square on May Day 1981 and I witnessed the grand spectacle. I shopped in Gum and Sum, the two departmental stores whose shelves were mostly empty. Whatever was available was ridiculously cheap. Metro tickets and bus tickets cost a pathetic five kopeks and bread, too. There were long queues for everything, but one could have as much ice-cream as one liked. I never had to stand in any queue since Indians were hugely respected in Russia. People would readily push me to the head of any queue. Strangers would stop me on the streets and hand me flowers. Raj Kapoor songs were very popular and we could buy LPs of old Raj Kapoor movie songs, literally for a song.

Subsequently, I have visited Moscow a couple of times, but it seems to have changed so fast that many areas are now unrecognisable. Glitzy malls have taken over the city, there are cars everywhere;  and the poor and the old are out in the streets hawking household remnants. The young Russians have grown up post-cold war and have no idea of both the deprivations and the entitlements (housing, heating, healthcare, education) that made their parents’ lives tolerable.

The pictures posted here are from the more recent visits in 2003 & 2006.

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