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From Russia With Love, Part 14: My fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart

The full sentence in the title is ‘And why is it, thought Lara, that my fate is to see everything and take it so much to heart?’  Pasternak’s Lara, of course in Dr Zhivago.  My father first saw David Lean’s masterpiece film of the book that he had read some time before, in a tiny cinema in Andermatt (Swiss Alps) in February 1966.  He reported that his nose and his toes were cold throughout.  He was wearing gloves and a bobble hat.  I was only 5 at the time so I didn’t see it until much later in the comfort of our drawing room and was I captivated.  The book I read soon after.  The story set the bar for the Russia that I wanted to find.  The politics, the literature, the love, the soul.  I waited what, had I been told I must, at the age I was then, would have seemed an impossible time to visit for the first time (for I am quite determined to go again and see far, far more of this vast and extraordinary place) and she didn’t disappoint.  Not even slightly.  I loved the people, as I knew I would. I love their relationship to art and dance and literature and science and intellect. It is quite captivating.  Their frankness, their ability to feel to the depths of their soul and not be ashamed of feeling so.  To be able to laugh and cry willingly. It is quite beautiful and at odds with the image of the stony faced, ice-eyed KGB torturer of cliché.  We went and we scratched the surface and we returned home a little changed. As you always should be when you have seen something and taken it to heart.

Here are my best bits – each one a character in the little story of my stay:


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And some of me enjoying my favourite bits:


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Za zdorovje!

Za zdorovje!


PS:  At lunch in the summer with local friends back home, we were assaulted with a barrage of the most appalling and misinformed propaganda gleaned from stories on the internet.  Drivel it all was but the venom with which it was thrown at us left us breathless with rage.  Politics is politics the world over and the globe is an increasingly small place but to tar a population with a filthy brush based on no more that what you have read is quite quite wrong.  In any language.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I must tell you that Russia has never been on my list of places that I want to visit , or that attracted me – except maybe for St. Petersburg .
    Mainly because of this very gray and sad idea of what Russia is that I have constructed in my mind – very stupidly I must say so – just by the way Russia was portrayed in some of the books I’ve read .
    And now luckily I’ve seen it through your eyes 🙂
    Last night I devoured your 12 posts , and what a good surprise today when I stumbled on two more 🙂
    I think I might have to update my travels wishing list 😉
    Turtle Hugs

    June 16, 2016
    • Oh Turtle! That is the most wonderful feeling for me – to have convinced you it’s not all bad in that badass place! Really – if you ever get the opportunity, go. The people are so lovely and they want to be accepted. The biggest warmest hugs to you. Xx

      June 16, 2016

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