Friday, 2 November 2012

Moscow can completely scramble the senses - it has mine

Marc Chagall , the surrealist, came to Moscow at least once. It shows in his work; bodies fly and flail, embrace and escape, fly and fall.  
Today, everything seems to push and rush - at six thirty am as I leave our enormous block of flats,the cold and dark is pushed aside by the solid phalanx of shuffling coats and hats that move like a nation towards the Metro at Akademika Yangelya.
It is implacable. It is a gigantic snake sliding down the Metro steps, down onto the platforms which are already another solid mass of living tissue.
Inside the carriage, which grates and grunts as it pulls away and then screams as it plunges down into Moscow central. We can’t hear each other and we are too tightly packed to read a book.

At Borovitskaya station, a vast interchange for the Metro in central Moscow, we are released and I make my way with the rest of humanity, for it seems as if they are all here today, up the steep escalators and out onto the Mississippi wide streets around the Lenin Library, along which races traffic racing to escape the furies of hell.
We are in that part of Moscow which aims to embody the power and the glory of the state - and it’s enough to shake the conviction of an anarchist and turn him into a police superintendant.
Yes, I too am convinced that only ‘silnaya ruka’ ( strong hand) can rule Russia - but wait, not so fast, there is a strange fantasia ahead of us as we leave my office in this stony desert of human feeling.

 We emerge from another extended Metro nightmare out into a fairyland of edible Hansle and Gretle buildings at Teatralny Proezd - suddenly,everything is ablaze and flashing, lights dance and people bob along the streets like corks on a breeze blown lake.

At Varvarka Street, we are back in European scale, the streets are narrow, the buildings built for human beings but painted for children in pinks and blues and whites.
As we glide past the 16th Century English Courtyard - a wooden roofed and charming house granted to English traders by Ivan the Terrible - we turn and find ourselves in a forest of spires and domes and crosses to humble an atheist.
Across our path gambols a troop and column of black and white uniformed guards, all children who are laughing and smiling, a gentle rebuke to the armies of the world in their camouflage and tanks.

   We turn again and a white cathedral with golden domes and crosses flies across the sky.

     It is the flying Cathedral of St Vladimir. 
     I kid you not.
     But it’s been a long day.

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