You know that feeling where you feel like you are in a different planet. Where the whole scale of things just overwhelms you and you feel like you are just a tiny speck in the whole multitude of the universes and that there were and still are people and things which are capable of doing much greater things than yourself. Or as in Chennai what we say every time we are awestruck- Gomaaaaaale.
That was exactly what I said when I went inside the cathedral of Christ the Saviour. I felt like I was in a whole new dimension. There was art and detail and a whole lot of beauty everywhere. Amars keen architecture trained eyes showed me details that my “read between the lines “eyes missed. Sweet Jesus. That was really him. Sweet Jesus upstairs. Wait let me show you.
Gomaale. ( Not in a nice way)
That fever from yesterday is gone. But that nasty thought infection is still persisting. Moscow is mild, sunny, and fun they said. But when you put a South Indian boy in this summer, he would shiver regardless. 12 degree celsius doest sound too cold. I have recommended so many of my customers in Decathlon a simple fleece jacket based on just the number 12. Now I know what 12 really feels like. So a quick shower and still pondering how Western civilisation advanced on toilet paper ( They make them rough here) I was up for some break fast. Amar had bought some Maggi home and we started cooking. Like real nomads, we were entering a kitchen for the first time in a while. Backpacker hostels in Europe have a kitchen where you can make whatever you want. As long as its not meth. ( But wait, its Europe, maybe you can as long as you have a Shengen visa). Russian Maggi to the rescue and we are out of the hostel. We wish the girl good morning and we are on our horses. Let me show you those beauties.
I call mine “ Millennium falcon “ and Amar calls his “ unicorn”. The cycle is the horse of the modern knight. ( Yes, you can quote that.) And we embark on the journey that is going to change the way we see just about everything.
The culture of urban mobility
Back in decathlon, we had a department called Oxelo. That department dealt with urban mobility which included skateboards, roller blades and scooters. Along with Btwin our cycle brand, which had special urban hybrid bikes, our stores turnover percentage would not be very significant for these. This is due to mainly two things. Infrastructure and culture. When half of Annai Sala is still filled with metro rubble and when the zebra crossing exists only in theory. You cant expect anything better. But in Moscow, this is the best mode of transportation. There are specific cycle lanes, signals for cycles and people are just crushing it on their cycles and skateboards. It is really cool. That is one of the reasons why we decided to bring our cycles all the way from Chennai to Russia. Trust me, the logistical effort is completely worth it as we have covered more than half the city in 2 days. And had a lot of fun doing it and the most important part. ITS FUCKING FREE.
So I will continue where I left off.
We mount the beasts and we set off towards the red square. I don’t know if its because we are outside India or the first time, but everything looks like a photo to us. Like just about everything, inside a frame it all looks great.
We were riding and near an airport we found a group of Marathi med students. Which was cool. They were from another part of Russia and had come to get infected with the football fever.
Riding through Moscow is such a pleasure. Here we have to stay to the right. Not just vehicles but people also do the same, the amount of order here is insane. From the chaos of crossing Thiruvanmyur signal where there is a 33% of getting killed and 89% chance of being called “Savagraki” to actually seeing a Porche stop to let you cross the road is insane.
Put cursing video
We passed some familiar faces ( gets the “Sakkhakals”hard).
And without realising we passed the DUMA. Even though my boi Vlad,( Who just gave me the best news I heard all day. (https://tribune.com.pk/story/1735569/3-putin-says-russian-women-can-sex-visiting-world-cup-tourists/) runs the country like its his Netflix account he is sharing with his mates. The DUMA represents something and is a place where geopolitical affairs of the world are affected on a daily basis.
We made our way to the square next to the red square ( I am just too lazy to find the place and translate it from Russian). This is where the world cup fever hit us. It was where things were happening. We went to the statue of St Peter on a horse and there are latin American fans everywhere. Mexicans, Peruans, Colombians. If you ask me which teams have the most number of fans down here. It is these 3 teams, in terms of passion too, I would say these 3 teams are killing it. So we whoop out our tri-colour and showed some desi love. ( A lot of people confused us with Iran). It was the best moment ever. For once I felt sort of equal with these great nations of football. It was like at least in terms of passion, we are on an equal footing.
And an Aussie Journo seeing our flag wanted to interview us. Here is the best part. In Tamil and Malayalam. I get self conscious about my Malayalam cause if I try to keep it real it will be thug life Kochi and if I try to sophisticate it, it comes out English. ( Endoke paranju Poyet ends).
Here is the link, someone pls help us find that interview – Sbs.com.au/radio
We went to see if the Kremlin was open and we found a line longer than BEVCO and more diverse than TASMAC. So we decided to wait. That is when we saw a pack Tamil Chittappa and his pondatti. We were so happy. Her Kancheepuram saree in the Moscow sun made us miss home for a second. We took a picture and said bye. ( One day later in our feed we saw that mama next to two smoking hot Russian chicks, you can still live the good life in your 60s, especially if your wife is ok taking those pics).
Then we cycled a little to the cathedral. Let me be honest here. From the outside, it looks a lot like Edappali pali. Ask anyone from Palarivattom and they would tell you, Edappali pali is a landmark in itself, a little copying is to be suspected. ( Especially since the old church right next to gets more people for the mass than the gargantuan structure next to it.) It wont be open till 1 so we had an hour to kill and we went to get some food.
The rule when you are travelling on a shoe string budget through Europe. Supermarkets are where you are gonna survive. The cheapest food stuff can be found only there. So we started to look. Our inference was that, sometimes, beer is cheaper than water and that food is slightly overpriced than what we get in India. But a bun with jam and butter is better than anything else there. And we sit down to eat. Since its summer, the trees start pollinating with something which looks like cotton. And when the wind blows in one direction, all these cotton pollens fly up and for a second It feels like its snowing. It is super cool.
Then we went back into the church to see its interior. This is where – “ Gomaaale “ happened.
With the Moskova river flowing next to it, it was the most picturesque “Edappali pali” I have ever seen. The Orthodox architecture makes it so much more epic. But once you go inside, it is something else. The Byzantine roots really start to show and the pictures on the roof will make you say- “ Sweet Jesus”. I really felt like I was somewhere else. This place had a power which made it uber cool.
After that I had this urge to piss which makes me wanna move over mountains. And the restroom app showed a restroom over the river. So we crossed and we ended up unexpectedly in Gorky park which is like the best place to chill in the summer( oh, the irony). There are cycle ramps and people skateboarding and beautiful girls in sun dresses enjoying the sun. These are the moments when you think to yourself……..only if I had been born here. ( But then you think about malabar biryani and Kerala blasters and put those thoughts to bed.)
We cycled through the fountain and we had a splendid time there. There was a big statue of Peter the great on a boat and it was a piece of art by itself.
By that time we had covered all the places we had on our list. So, when you no where to go, you go home. And for us, home has been Decathlon for a while. So we decided to go to Decathlon Moscow. It was a little away, but with a Triban 100, tarmac is my bitch. It was inside a mall like Teynampet. It was a really really really big store compared to any store in India. I could see like 3 times the products you will find in my department back home here. I tried every skateboard and there were a lot of products you wont find in India. It was insane.
After that we went out to grab a bite and our personal favourite stuff to eat is shawarma or as they all it here, “Kebab”. Its cheap, has chicken inside and it states fucking great. We met a bubbly dude there who called us Hindustani. He stares singing this Jimmy Jimmy song which I have vague memories of. It filled us ups with so much energy.
Then on the way back we say a park where kids were practicing skateboarding under a Lenin statue. I really wish Chennai had a skate boarding scene like Moscow has. ( My insurance company would to put to use at least.)
Check out my vid and that will give you some idea.-
As we were cycling back, we saw what I would have to say is the grandest building I have ever seen. Take a look and you tell for yourself.
And the best end to the day when we saw this street band called “ The Boom” play highway to hell.
We saw some kids play football. A precursor to tomorrow as the World Cup begins tomorrow and its gonna be all about football.