Thursday, May 14, 2020

Russian Revolution - রাশিয়ায় রোমাঞ্চ

Tour diary (with input from Soma Datta Gupta)

22.6-23.6.18. Kolkata (20 10 hrs - IST) -Delhi (1330 hrs IST) - Moscow (0530 hrs MST)

23.6.18  Belorusskaya- Kurskaya Metro station - Nizhny Novgorod 

24.6.18. Nizhny Novgorod - Anton

25.6.18. Saransk

26.6.18. Moscow - Roman

27.6.18. Moscow

28.6.18. Moscow

29.6.18. Moscow

30.6.18. Kazan - Aandrey

01.07.18. Kazan

02.07.18. St Petersburg - Olga

03.07.18. St Petersburg

04.07.18. St Petersburg - Evgeny

05.07.18. St Petersburg -  Hermitrage

06.07.18. St Petersburg -  Brazil vs Belgium

07.07.18. St Petersburg -  Ballet

08.07.18. - 09.07.18. St Petersburg - Moscow - Delhi -Kolkata


Like last time we had made plans long before the actual date of travel. Pannada (Pannalal Chatterjee - this is his 10th World cup) came to my office a number of times before departure.

We (Sanjit-da and Me) planned to leave home at 5 pm for the 8.30 pm Delhi  flight from Kolkata. But I learnt that my final interview (for a new job ) will be held at 5.30 pm today!! I tried my best to defer it, till I returned from Russia. But I was told, it is a now or never situation! The interview was to  be taken by a very senior bureaucrat of GoWB. As my existing company was closing down,  this interview was very important. So I reluctantly appeared for the interview with Sanjit-da and Benu-da waiting  for me in the Taxi below the office. The interview went well (I got the job ! ) and we reached the airport I on time and  landed in Delhi  at 10.30 pm.


We took the 1.30 am Aeroflot flight (Rs 26,000 with return fare) and reached Moscow ( Sheremetyevo International Airport) at 5.30 am in the morning. (Moscow is 2.30 hrs behind us). There are various options to come to the city centre from airport. The airport express takes around 500 Rouble to reach city centre. But our train is at 11 am. So we had  time to kill and thought of taking the local bus to reach city centre. The rate is 55 Rouble (1 $=62 Rouble = Rs 68). The exchange rate in airport was ludicrous (1$=40 Rouble). We exchanged only 100 Rouble (two of us together). The bus (851) did not take anything from us, since we had the  match ticket. But it should have, which we learnt later. You get a free bus ride only if you have both the ticket and fan ID . I did  not have tickets for the match in Moscow, as we were going to Nizhny Novgorod. Here, the flat bus rate is 55 Rouble. The bus has no conductor.

Any way, we got down at  Rechnoy Vokzal  to take Metro. This bus is more like a shuttle. From Rechnoy Vokzal (Green line) Metro station we got down at the inter change - Belorusskaya Metro station (Brown line) . Belorruskaya Metro station is quite impressive. The metro of Moscow is world famous for its architecture and beauty. 

From Belorusskaya we went to Kurskaya Metro station - which is a train station as well as a metro station - from where we will take a train from Kurskaya to Niznhy Novgorod. We had some time to spend before catching the train to Nizhny at 11 am. So we decided to buy the Sim card and exchange some Rouble.

Posters - similar to what we see in Kolkata !

I bought 15 GB data for 400 Rouble from a shop near metro station. Quite reasonable ! It is valid for 1 month. The shopkeeper, more or less, understands English, but he used google translate (in voice) to talk to us ! He spoke  in Russian and Google translated  it to English , without any need for typing ! This is something I have never done in India. He also helped us in calling our friend Anton, to inform him that we have reached safely. Till now Russian people were very nice and very different from the perceived stereotypes. 

At the airport, the rates are 40 Rouble per USD, but here it is 60 USD. Today being Saturday, many money exchanges were closed. After a lot of effort, we got one shop which was open. 

History and Orientation of Russia and venues of World cup

There are 12 venues (and 11 cities) in this world cup. There are 2 venues in Moscow city.


In the North there is St Petersburg (SPB).


In the South there is Sochi and VolgogradSochi is called French Riviera (or Côte d'Azur) of Russia. Riviera in Italian means Coastline.  Mountains border the Black sea in Sochi. Narendra Modi went to Sochi few days back. 

Volgograd (Previously it used to be called Stalingrad) is a very important city historically. 

Germans seiged Petrograd (first  christened Leningrad and finally renamed to St Petersburg) for 862 days from 8.9.41 to 27.1.1944. Lakhs of people died in Leningrad/Stalingrad. Finally Joseph Stalin liberated it. However it was not very easy for Germans too, in the cold of St Petersburg.

Ioseb Besarionis dzе Jugashvili or "Stalin" (meaning Steel), a Georgian, with a strong Georgian accent, literally an outsider, who is only 5.5 Ft tall , industrialized USSR in 1930s by leaps and bounds in few years, but it came at a cost - he became a dictator and allegedly neutralized his adversaries. It is probably nothing short of a genocide. He is not an intellectual like Lenin. If truth be told, Petrograd was liberated less to do with the grit of Stalin, but more to do with the cold of Petrograd.

In the Battle of Volgograd/Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943), Germany and its allies (3 Axis power - Italy, Germany and Japan) fought against the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it is one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million total casualties. Ultimately Germans were defeated in Volgograd. This is a very significant turning point in Eastern front during World War II and ultimately resulted in German's defeat on D Day on 6.6.1944 in Western Front at Normandy in the hand of Allied Forces of Britain, America, Canada and France  and gained a victory that became the watershed event for World War II in Europe.


In the East there are 5 venues - Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk (part of Mordovian Republic , not very far from Nizhny Novgorod - it has some unique architecture) , Samara and Yekaterinburg (named after Catherine I, Czar Peter the great's (1672-1725) wife. She should not be confused with was Catherine I or Catherine the great, the only woman ruler of Romanov who ruled from 1762 to 1796 after death of her husband. Yekaterina is Russian name of Catherine. It bears testimony to the assassination of last Czar Nicholas II. Following the October Revolution, the family of deposed last Czar Nicholas II was sent to internal exile in Yekaterinburg where they were imprisoned. In July 17, 1918, the deposed Czar, his wife Alexandra, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Czarevich Alexei were executed by the Bolsheviks). Yekaterinburg is a good base to take the trans-Siberian train. Although you can take it from Moscow. In Kolkata I met reputed travel writer Ratanlal Biswas on the Metro - who went near Baikal Lake by plane, for Baikal Lake trek and came back by Trans Siberian train ( 64 hours journey). This Trans Siberian rail goes up to Vladi Vostok - Far East, near Siberia. The rail line was developed during one of the Czar's. From Vladi Vostok Japan and Korea is not far. One of my hosts in Moscow, Olga is from Vladi Vostok.

A journey on the Trans-Siberian Express train is the longest train ride in the world. The railway was built between 1891 and 1916 under the supervision of Russian government ministers personally appointed by Tsar Alexander III and his son last Czar Nicholas II. The train made its first trip in 1966. It departs from Moscow and after crossing two continents and six time zones, arrives in Vladivostok 6 days later after covering 9289 Km. The train stops in approximately 90 cities.  At the 1778th km of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the train crosses the border between Europe and Asia and at the 5276th km, it runs 207 km along Lake Baikal. The Trans-Siberian Railway is just one part of the massive Russian railway network.  It connects the European rail network at one end with either Vladivostok ( or even Chinese rail network) at the other. You can use it to travel overland in either direction between London, Paris or anywhere in Europe and China, Japan, Korea or even Southeast Asia. Although the main Trans-Siberian line runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, most western travellers head for China on one of two routes/ branches, the Trans-Mongolian line or the Trans-Manchurian line - which is probably more interesting.

Kazan is a very interesting place. Genghis Khan captured Russia from 1223 to 1480. During this time Russia was effectively a colony of Mongols. Then from 16th Century came Romanov dynasty, who ruled till 1917 till Bolshevik revolution. Genghis Khan is a from Mongolia. The term Moghul or Mughal came from Mongol. Genghis Khan is considered as one of the greatest emperors of all time and the size of his kingdom is 4 times bigger than the Alexander the Great. He died in China at around 65 years from exhaustion of war, possibly.

In Persian language Mongol is referred as Moghul.  Humayun's mother and father have Timur i Lang or Taimur Lang (born in Uzbekistan and who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Iran and Central Asia. Persian, the lingua franca of the Timurid elite. His goal was a restoration of Genghis Khan’s great Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan, who had died in 1227, and Timur shared a common ancestor.) and Genghis Khan (He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script – Uyghur are prosecuted in China in 21st century) lineage respectively. Kazan is called Istanbul of Russia. There are many mosques in Kazan and many people are of Turkic origin (The term Turkic and Turkish should not be confused. Turkic people is a broad term which includes not only Turks, but also Turkmens, Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Tatars and other ethnic groups which inhabit a very large region. Turkish people are people from the country of Turkey and they speak the Turkish language as their mother tongue. They are a Turkic group with a Turkic language. Each of these ethnic groups has their own languages, but their languages are classified into numerous subgroups based on how intelligible and close they are to each other. So when we say Babur or Muhammad Bin Tughluq is of Turkic origin, it does not mean he is from Turkey)

Novgorod falls on the way from Moscow to St Petersburg. The documented history of Russia starts from Novgorod in 862. Traditionally, Rus' statehood is traced to Rurik I, a Rus' leader of Holmgard (later Novgorod) from 862. The term Rus came from Kyvian Rus Viking clan [Vikings were primarily from southern Scandinavia (in present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden who from the late 8th to late 11th centuries, raided wide areas of Europe)]. However it was not until the 18th century, that the term Russian came to be ued exclusively for Eastern Slavs in the North. While those in the South and West were identified as Ukrainians or Belarusian.

Short history of Russia from 879-1917

Rurik I's successor Oleg moved his capital to Kiev (now Ukraine), founding the state of Kievan Rus in 879 from Novgorod and ruled till 1169. The Rus' state had fragmented into a series of petty principalities which warred constantly and by the 12th century, Vladimir became the dominant principality. After Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263), the region once again broke up into petty states, though the Grand Duchy of Moscow, founded by Alexander Nevsky's youngest son Daniel, began to consolidate control over the entire Rus' territory. In the mean time , following the Mongol conquests of the 13th century, all of the Russian principalities were effectively operating as vassals or colony of the Golden Horde or Mongol state. The Russians began to exert independence from the Mongols, culminating with Ivan the Great or Ivan III (1440-1505) of Moscow ceasing tribute to the Mongols, effectively declaring his independence after defeating the Mongols in 1480 at Kazan, effectively ending the Khanate in Russia. Saint Basil's Cathedral was built from 1555 to 1561 on orders from Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV) and commemorates the capture of Kazan. Ivan IV formalized the term Czar. Following the death of the Feodor I in 1598, the son of Ivan the Terrible and the last of the Rurik dynasty, Russia fell into a succession crisis, as he left no male heir.  The time of Troubles is considered to have ended with the election of Michael Romanov to the throne, who established the Romanov dynasty in 1613 that would rule Russia until the Russian Revolution of 1917 :  314 years; 18 Romanovs took the Russian throne, including Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander I and Nicholas II. 

The Eastern Slavs came from Belarus and Ukraine (Western part of present day Russia). From there, Slavs were spread to various regions.

Western Slavs were Polish, Czech, Slovakia, Bulgarian and Eastern Slavs are Russian. 

Southern Slavs were Serbia, Croats, and Bulgarians.

So Russians are basically Eastern Slav. That is why their language has lot of similarity with other Slavic languages. My Polish friend Jola says she can understand Czech or Russian - if it is spoken slowly. In Europe more than 90% speak Indo European Language - 21.5 Crores or 215 million speak Latin Group (French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese etc), 210 million speak Germanic Group (English, German, Dutch etc) and 250 million speak Slavic group (Russian, Czech, Polish, Slovak, Bulgarian etc).

The venue in the Western side is Kaliningrad. The name came a communist leader - Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, a Bolshevik revolutionary. Its border is not contiguous to Russia. To its North and East is Lithuania, Poland is in the South and its West is Baltic Sea. It is a very German Town - German culture is prevalent. It was under Germany. After the Germans were defeated by Russian, Russia kept it due its strategic location. 

When the Bolshevik Revolution happened, Lenin in 1919, gave Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, an option, to be part of USSR - which they declined. However Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Islamic group of countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan   remained with USSR. 

Before Bolshevik Revolution these (Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) were all part of Czarist Russia. 

However in 1946, after World War II, Stalin annexed Estonia, Lithuania,  Latvia and East Poland, since they were very strategically located, due to their proximity to St Petersburg. 

In 1991 , however , Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,Kyrgyzstan,Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan,Turkmenistan,Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan all broke away from USSR and became an Independent Country.

The choice of venue of Kaliningrad and Saransk (in East) is apparently a scam - since there is no major football club or interest in football. The likely reason why it was chosen as a venue is probably vested interest. Some influential leaders got the contract, I heard. Possibly Saransk stadium will become a shopping mall after the world cup. There is no major crowd coming to the ground during the world cup, I read. Normally Fifa does not give more than 8 venues. If it is too spread out, then it is difficult to see all the matches. That is indeed the case. It seems after the World Cup it will be desolated. In Brazil also there were around 12 venues.

While boarding the train (11 am) to Nizhny Novgorod (should not be confused with Novgorod – Nizhny means Lower; i.e. Lower Novgorod) we met a group of Bengalis from Jorhat, Assam.

They had got 6 match tickets. They have also got 4 free train tickets (to go from venue to another) ! I got only one, since I applied a little late. The criterion is : you have to have a match ticket to get a free train ticket. We will reach Nizhny Novgorod at 2.43 pm. We paid around Rs 1600 per head.

The website to book train tickets in Russia. It is in English :

In the train we started practising commonly spoken Russian words , which we learnt from Goutam (Sen Gupta) Mama (He spent 8 years in Russia and had a Russian wife). Spasiba - Thank you, Privet - Hello, Vogzal- train station, excuse me - pardon, , Stancion - Station, Restaurant - Restoran, Voda - water, yes- da, No - niet, Tea-Cha, Coffee - Coffee, Road - ulitsa, Aftobus- Bus, Disevli Restoran- cheap restarurant, Very good - achin khoroso, Toilet is Toilet, Doroga - expensive, address- aadres, bad - plokhoy, friend - droog, house - Dom, mutton - myasa, fish is ryba . (Later we learnt that Dawai Dawai is Cheers, while drinking Vodka !)  

Russian script is called Cyrillic. It is named after Greek Saint Cyril . It is very close to Greek alphabet. Some alphabets are added to Greek alphabet. During the later part of my stay, I could read Russian with some difficulty. It is similar to English alphabet also, with some changes. C= S, so CCCP (= Союз Советских Социалистических Республик OR Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) = USSR ) or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), P in Russian=R, Roubles is written as P, Nizhny starts with H (Ни́жний). So H in Russian is N in English. After H of Nizhny, it is N, so N (in reverse) mean i or y......Van Gogh (Ван  Гог) starts with B , so B in Russian is V in English and Г is G.. so on so forth...In Russia without  knowing Cyrilic -  it will be a problem. R is Y in English.

The train runs exactly on time. We got down at 2.43 pm ! Just in front of the train station is metro station. We took the metro and got down at Burkovskaya metro station.

From there we started walking towards Anton's house. On the way we met an old lady. She escorted us to Anton’s house till the end. She was always smiling.Quite an exceptional lady. She does not understand English. We gave her a souvenir from India - Panchavati Incense stick.

Anton has a studio apartment. Since we were hungry, we told our host , we will go out for lunch. But , he took out ham, cheese and bread from his fridge. Our host knows Spanish, but has limited knowledge of English. Again Google translate was our saviour. He knew I am from Bengal. So he started speaking in Russian with google translating it directly into Bengali ! After chatting for some time, we went to the departmental store, inside his complex to buy water. In his complex all houses look similar !

We found salami and sausage selling around Rs 700-800 per Kg , much less than what we get in Spencer's. It is even cheaper than Italy. Then we left in  his Japanese car (right hand steering like us, unlike left hand steering in Russia) to the Kremlin.

Nizhny Novgorod has a written history of 800 years. Maxim Gorky was born here. I heard a very interesting story about 
Gorky. Once a Czar was sitting idly in front of the sea. Suddenly he saw a black person running , followed by a policeman, who could not catch him. When the policeman was slowing down, he was slowing down. When he were increasing the speed, he was also increasing his  speed. But he was never looking back. The Czar caught him, with the help of his horse. When he was caught, he said, I am from Absynnia (Ethiopia). There are many animals in Abyssinia. I can follow their speed, by just listening to their footsteps. I don’t need to look back ! The Czar was impressed and adopted him. That person later married a Russian lady and their son is Maxim Gorky . This is what Goutam Mama told me. I don't know if this is true. I did not find any reference on the Internet !

Next,  we went to see the square - where there is a statue of Gorky. 

Tolstoy, Gorky (Gorky is his pen name) and Dostoyevsky are considered among Russia's greatest writers.  Pushkin is considered the greatest Russian poet.  The city looks very nice. 

Here they follow the Orthodox Christian order. The robe of the priest (Father) is black. The Orthodox Church does not follow the present day Gregorian calendar. They follow Julian (after Julius Caesar) Calendar. There is a gap of 13 days. After Bolshevik revolution, Bolsheviks aligned the date with other countries, discarding Julian Calendar. So Bolsheviks say the famous October Revolution happened on 25th October, 1917, it was actually 7th November, 1917 ! Similarly Christmas is celebrated on 7th January. 

The term Czar means Caesar. Caesar is a title of imperial character. It is derived from Julius Caesar. Ivan the 3rd probably used the term Czar for the first time. Before that they used Emperor.

We went to see the Kremlin - fortified city. In Nizhny Novgorod there is a Kremlin. The term Kremlin literally means citadel. There are many Kremlins in Russia and the one in Moscow is not the ONLY one.The architecture of the Church is quite unique. It is onion shaped. Somewhat similar to a mosque. The Kremlin, here, is apparently the largest Kremlin in Russia, according to my friend.

After watching a beautiful sunset , we left for the Fifa Fan Fest. I have seen Fifa Fan fest in Brazil also. They have very tight security in the Fan fest and have stadium like ambience. They have engaged the spectators through various games in the Fifa Fan Fest. There is more than one giant screen.

With a Flag of Peru

They have converted a road into a Fan Fest and cordoned off the area. We saw the match of Germany here. Anton was joined by his friend. There is a match of Panama tomorrow. Many people had come to Nizhny Novgorod from Panama. One of them told me, 4000 (6000 as per another version) Panaman supporters travelled from Panama.The atmosphere is electric. There is a pedestrian street near Fan Fest, where I saw Panama's supporters along with English people dancing till 1.30 am ! I met an Australian there. He asked - when will India play Football. Immediately I showed him my T Shirt - along with the article in Telegraph.

They were very impressed. He said football comes after, Australian football, rugby and cricket in order of popularity. We saw some Peruvians, Ecuadorians and Colombians too. The arrangement of Fifa is very good - similar to what I saw in Brazil. There are places in the Fifa Fan Fest where you can buy beer.

After the match we went to have Shawarma with our friend (along with his friend. She speaks good English).

They call Lebanese food Leban. They did not allow us to pay. Then we went to the pedestrian street and sat for some time. Our friend Anton dropped his friend and when we came back home it was 2.30 am and it was still daylight here ! That is why it is called white night. I had to use an eye pad to sleep. It is quite hot here !

Here the bus fare is 28 Rouble (Unlike 55 Rouble in Moscow).


We brought breakfast from the departmental store. Since it was inside a housing complex, the residents hardly get a chance interact with outsiders and therefore do not understand English. So I spoke in Bengali using Google Translate , which got translated into Russian (voice message). It worked quite well.  After breakfast, Anton dropped us near the stadium – since there was a barricade, we had to walk for some time to go to the stadium. 

A church falls on the way to the stadium - we went there to see it

On the way to the stadium, we met people from various nationalities and some even offered us beer !

Today is the match was between England and Panama. The whole stadium was red today !  We sat very near to the goal post. Only 1 goal was scored at our end ! The score was 6-1 ! Panama is a very ordinary team.

The positioning of players of England team is very critical for their game. Always 2 players are standing at the 2 flanks (in an open space), which makes it very easy to change the direction of the match from left to right and vice versa. We, in India, never learnt this ! When somebody gets a ball , 2 players are supporting him, to get the pass. The understanding and match reading the English team is very good. I was watching the positioning of players very carefully today. It is like a chess board. On TV you cannot make out these things. 

The atmosphere in the stadium is electric !  The food inside the stadium is quite expensive like Brazil – the stalls  are owned by Fifa. They are also very well organized - somewhat similar to what I have seen in Brazil.

Burger at around Rs 325 is quite expensive by Russian standards !

People from Panama have great spirit. Even if they lost, they danced like crazy ! Wherever you look in the gallery, it is only red !

We met a Panaman couple. The husband is from Panama, but the wife was born in Cost Rica. But now she stays in Panama. We were told there is a strong Indian community in Panama --  there are 3 Indian Restaurants in Panama city! She even has an Indian friend, Ritu! They spoke quite good English.

After the match we took a free metro ride to come back home. On the way back we had no option but to miss the ongoing match (scheduled in another venue). We bought some beer from a grocery store on the road side and had dinner at home.

Sausages are very reasonably priced - 249 Rouble is almost Rs 250.


We went to sleep early and got up at 2.30 am. We had to catch a sleeper class train at 3.53 am to go to Saransk. Our friend called the Taxi at around 3 am and the Taxi took only 100 Rouble (since oil is quite cheap here) for a 5 minute ride.The train is (2+2)+(1+1), unlike (3+3)+(1+1) in India. We met some Australians, Russians in the train. We reached at 11.43 am, exactly on time. It was a slow train. I met a Bangladeshi, from Bogura which is not very far from Dhaka. He is studying IT here. I also met a Marathi group in the train and also a person from Mexico in his trademark hat (sombrero).

Today’s  match is Iran vs Portugal. We kept our luggage in the ‘left luggage’ facility (organized by Fifa near the station), so that people can go back to next destination, after seeing the match. Many people were standing with a placard beside the Train Station – “rooms available”. It is a very small town. Some people were sleeping on the grass (beside the footpath). We saw many Iranians.

We went to a Church here whose style is similar to other Russian Churches.

There is a trolley bus - even in such a small town, which can be covered even by foot. It is absolutely neat and clean. Gérard Depardieu , the famous French film star, has taken citizenship of Russia, to evade very high tax in France . Depardeau has adopted Saransk and is its brand ambassador. Saransk is part of Mordovian Republic (having Mordvinic language).

There are many Republics (the Russian Federation is divided into 85 federal subjects/constituent units, 22 of which are "republics". Most of the republics represent areas of non-Russian ethnicity - like the Republic of Tatarstan- where we will go later. Today our match is at 9 pm. So we have enough time in our hands. We went to a cafe to have some food. It is really very impressive. We had Cherry pie - very reasonable price. We also had Russian pizza (small size) - only Rs 50, Patty -  Rs 45.   

Tarts selling at Rs 25 (25 Rouble) only !

There is a very popular dish here  called Bear's paw. A local legend has it that in olden times, bridegrooms had to prove that they are true men and that they are worthy of their brides. And so they went off into the woods to hunt a bear and returned with a bear's paw, which they put on the wedding table as proof of their feat.

There are very few bears in Mordovia today – it is as an endangered species. So the bear's paw is prepared withother ingredients.

To know more about their cuisine – read

I saw some people from Madeira (the Island in Portugal, CR7 – Ronaldo, was born. It is almost 1000 km away from Lisbon, near Canary Island ! ), wearing a hat with the name of Madeira. They were interviewed by a TV channel.

We walked all the way from the station to the stadium. The roads were mostly closed. The stadium looks very pretty.

Traditional Mordovian dress

Supporter of Galatasary - similar to East Bengal Club
On the way to the stadium, I met a Bengali called VivSarkar. He runs a very popular Facebook page called Football in our blood. It is very hot here. So I was just wearing my Tee shirt like a Towel and walking bare-bodied. The T-shirt today became a big hit, because it was visible clearly. Many people came and took pictures with me.

Somebody in the stadium said, do you know in 1956 India played in bare foot. I said I am really surprised, that you know this ! But it was actually in the year 1952.

Many Iranian supporters have come to see the match , many of them with their wives. Iranian woman are not allowed to enter a stadium in Iran. Some of the woman were  dressed quite boldly !

Iranian woman are very modern inside their home - even smoke inside their home. But not outside. Some Iranian women however were wearing hijab here.

The atmosphere is electric. Till 10.00 pm it is just like 4 pm !  We heard 14,000 people came from Iran. They were shouting at the top of their voices.

One very interesting thing about the match is Ronaldo was changing the flank continuously. Sometime left, sometime right and sometimes centre. When Iran was attacking, Ronaldo was standing in an off side position - behind the stopper of Iran, creating a panic (since while receiving the ball, he will make sure to receive the ball in the "on side" position) and as a result, the last line of Iranian defence was not standing too far ahead and therefore counter attack by Portuguese will start very fast. This is a peculiar strategy of Ronaldo ! Ronaldo missed a Penalty kick. The match ended in a draw, 1-1.

Near the stadium we met a person from Sri Lanka, who lives in Malaysia. He is a physicist and sometimes comes to Kolkata to visit SN Bose Instt. ! 

After the match we took our luggage from left luggage facility and after dinner, we took the train to go to  Moscow  . It takes around 20 minutes from the stadium to the station. Saransk has hosted some major sporting events previously and won the best host city award. The stadium is breathtaking. Looks like a UFO. Almost all the major roads were closed for public transport. You can only walk upto the stadium and then walk for at least 20 minutes. Our train leaves at 1 am. We bought some Voda( or water in Russian) from a departmental store just in front of the station. They gave us soda water instead of Voda!

On the way back, we met few Iranians in the train and one of them is an aethist ! I was surprised. I asked him can you say it publicly? He said you don't need to. I told him about my fondness for Iranian movies. 


We reached Moscow at 12.20 pm - exactly at the scheduled time. Trains are amazingly punctual. We got down at Kurskaya station (blue line) and then took another connecting metro to go to Troparyovo (red line) . It is one of the terminal stations. Then we took a bus to go to Roman's house. He is a dentist. He had to go to office. So, after keeping the luggage in his house, we left for the stadium. We left the house together. Thankfully he had a late office hours today. Today I met an East Bengal supporter - Ayan Pal, who is from Sealdah !

Today' s match between France vs Denmark was very boring and spectators booed the players like anything. Some were saying it is the worst game. The characters in the crowd, were also missing. Today's highlight was however samba/dancing by Brazilians outside the stadium. 

After the match we went to Red Square. Red square can also be accessed from Lubaynka metro station. Today we did not spend much time there.


Roman told me to go to Nikolskaya ( pedestrian) street for carnival atmosphere. Over there Brazilians were dancing - the way only they can !

They made my day. I met Mauro and others – they are Flamengo supporters. I was very excited to learn that. Zico, Junior played for Flamengo. I told them - I went to Brazil. I discussed many things  - about Dondinho (Pele's father), Bauro, Bahia where Rivaldo was born, Tostao's house in Brasilia, Ronaldinho's (they call him Gaucho) house in Porto Alegre. They were equally excited to know about my love for Brazil. In fact Mauro called his Brazilian friends to tell them about me (He told them “do you know Pele’s father’s name ?”. Most of them said no !) - a person from India who even knows the name of Pele's father! They did not expect a person from India, to love Brazil so much.

Mauro on the left - we are still in touch

Metro Rail station in Moscow is world famous. It is almost 100 years old. They wanted to show to the world - they are technologically superior.

The roads here are quite good. The prices of goods are quite cheap, compared to other parts of Europe. You can even have lunch for 100 Rouble.

We had Blini - type of pan cake/patties. It is good , but nothing extra ordinary or unique. There is also Samsa/Samosa! I told my friend that we have a salad called Russian Salad , in Kolkata ! It is actually called Olivier Salad  here. Here you can get different kind of salads in Super markets like Europe.

After spending some time there, we went back. On reaching home I met Roman and his friend. We had dinner at home. There was bacon in the fridge. They were skeptical whether we will have pork. I told them we are from East India. We also had Calamari, Molluscs, Octopus.

Tomorrow is my friend's day off. I told them, tomorrow there is a Brazil match. I am not going to miss it, at any cost. We are staying in a place, which is somewhat akin to New Town of Kolkata. It is a small 1 room flat + 1 kitchen+bathroom+small store room. The cost is 5.5 million Rouble or Rs 59 Lakh approx. Similar flat in New Town would be around Rs 22-25 Lakh.

Roman was telling me, Moscow is more cosmopolitan than St Petersburg (or Old Leningrad). However St Petersburg is considered culturally superior. People are very modern here as far as dressing is concerned. But we did see some show of affection in public. He said you can see Bolshoi Ballet either in Moscow or St Petersburg.. I wanted to see Tchaikovsky's  Swan Lake. One can also see Prokofiev's Music with Ballet. I learnt that Russians call Siberia , as Siber.


Roman told me that post 1990 people are generally happy. There are more opportunities now, unlike olden days. Old people are living with nostalgia. Their world view was limited to few Eastern blocs. There was hardly any TV in those days. The two Moscows are very different. The new generation generally speaks English quite well. They seem to learn English from Class 1 or 2. Old generation of course, does not speak English. 

We left together. We went to a Kolomenskoye Park - where Czars used to stay for at least 200 years. The residence of the Czar / Tzar is quite striking. It is an UNESCO heritage site. There is a church too inside the Park. This is a huge Park with approx 4 sq km area. We had some snacks inside the Park.

Roman was joined by two of his friends - one of them was in India for working in a hotel for few months. He told me in India everybody seems to have a Bollywood connection! I told her this is so, since she has worked in a hotel in Delhi ! The other friend, Tatiyana wants to go to India.

The Czar's residence was closed, because we were late - but I had the opportunity to have a glimpse, just as the doors were getting closed.

We went to a bar to see the Brazil match. Unless you have a beer, you won’t be allowed inside the bar. So I was forced to have beer.

After watching the match, we left for – Nikolskaya street - somewhat similar to Lapa of Brazil. But I am told, this carnival atmosphere is only because of the World cup.

It is almost part of Red square area. Roman’s Colombian friend left the beer pub during the Brazil match and later joined us with his girlfriend. Roman's Colombian friend then took us to a Latino dance bar - there we had a little jig. God knows where they met ! In fact before the World cup, the authorities from Russian Government, told the Russian girls, not to mix with random people. But that is exactly opposite to what I saw all over the place. We saw numerous Russian girls with their hand tied with people - who are certainly not from Russia (mostly Brazilians - recognizable by their jersey, profile and also language) and most certainly tourist. This is a very new experience for me at Nikolskaya. Here I saw public show of affection – which is not so common in streets of Russia. Basically this is the party zone.

We were there till 1 am and then took a bus and metro combo to go back home.

The Party scene just outside Nikolskaya at 12.30 am !
In Moscow the metro plies till 1.30 am .  The bus, also, runs quite late. It is not that, it is plying because of the world cup. This is a normal feature. The metro frequency is every 1.5 -2 minutes (approx). Moscow is a huge city divided into - Central Moscow district and Outlying Moscow district. It is the largest city by area in Europe The whole city is mostly connected by metro and bus, and sometimes, act as feeder service. Today we have used mostly Fifa Fan ID . In one place they asked for the ticket. If you buy “metro card”, then instead of 55 Rouble, you pay 36 Rouble. Actually we later learnt, that Fan ID is applicable only on the match day.


I did  not have any ticket for the day. I had 2  options - either go to Suzdal, Vladimir OR  see Moscow. We decided to do the latter. We went to Kremlin again. There is a huge demand for tickets.

First we went to see the Kremlin Church or St Basil Church at the Red Square. 

After Kazan war , Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584 : the first Czar of Russia) to commemorate the victory, ordered this church to be built. As in the case of Taj Mahal , Ivan ordered the maker of the Church to be killed, so that a similar thing is not produced anywhere else. There was a huge queue in front of the Church. So we did not go inside. Outside of the church is more interesting.

Around 150 metre from the church is the place, where Lenin's body is said to rest  – but it was closed.

In front of Lenin's Mausoleum

This time I met many supporters of Mineiro. Ronaldinho used to play there, at the fag end of his life. When I reminded them of their famous 0-5 trouncing (you just have to say Penta ! ) , they were very taken aback  - similar to Mohun Bagan's 5-0 loss to East Bengal.

Then we went to a Historical museum nearby, starting from even before Genghis Khan. Almost everything is written in Cyrillic. Very few are in English. There is a famous armoury museum also - which was closed.

Lenin's car

Then we went to a nearby bridge from where there is a grand view of Kremlin.

There we met a Guatemalan guy (he looked Uzbek ! ). He works in an IT Company. He told me Captcha and Duo Lingo apps were founded by a Guatemalan guy.

The name Moscow came from  Moscow river. Since we were late, we did not do the river cruise.

Here in Moscow, we met many people with Mongoloid features - they are either from Uzbekistan or Khazakistan or Kyrgistan - they do the low end jobs. The price of oil is quite cheap in Russia - 50 Rouble or approx Rs 55 and Diesel is only 45 Rouble. The oil Reserve in Russia is even more than Saudi Arabia. That explains - why it is so low. Then we walked for some time along the river and saw a famous Church - Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Today is the last day of league stage of the match. Now we are in the knock out stage of World cup. The position is like this, after today's final league stage matches :



7:30 PM Saturday — France v Argentina
11:30 PM Saturday — Uruguay v Portugal
7:30 PM Sunday — Spain v Russia
11:30 PM Sunday — Croatia v Denmark
7:30 PM Monday — Brazil v Mexico
11:30 PM Monday — Belgium v Japan
7:30 PM Tuesday — Sweden v Switzerland
11:30 PM Tuesday — Colombia v England


Today we checked out of our house , since we have to catch a train on 30.06.2018 at 01.20 hours. We kept our luggage at  Komsomolskaya Metro station . We changed our metro station at Kazansky station ( since red line does not go to Komsomolskaya) to take the brown line. 

 Most of the train stations are linked to a metro station. So where ever you want to go, you can take metro to reach the train station. This is true for most of the countries in Europe. For going to various regions there are many train stations. Not like Howrah station in Kolkata. The name of metro and the attached train station is not necessarily same. Kurskaya (train and metro station have the same name), Beluruskaya, Kazansky are 3 very important metro stations for going to different directions. All of them are on the brown line. They are also important train stations. e.g. Leningradsky,Yaroslavsky and Kazansky Railway Stations are all located together on Komsomolskaya Ploschad /square. All nine stations are located next to metro stations. You won't be able to travel in Europe unless you know the metro routes fairly well.
They were trying to cheat us and charging 500 Rouble. When I pointed out that it is not 500 Rouble , rather it is 250 Rouble (written on the chart), they were trying to tell me. you have a big suitcase, which is not correct. So they ultimately returned extra Rouble ! I have one luggage , so I paid 250 Rouble and Sanjit da paid 500 Rouble since he has two bags.

Then we proceeded towards Kremlin (which is just beside Red square). There is a big crowd and we had to wait for some time in the queue.

Inside the Kremlin we met a big Bengali group from Kolkata, they work in Vivada (Travel Co.) .We sang Rabindra Sangeet inside the Kremlin.

Then I met a Marathi couple and another Bengali couple from Kolkata, now based in Delhi. The husband has retired from merchant navy (and gets pension) and the wife is a Doctor. They did not get the tickets initially. They bought tickets at the last moment, in the hospitality segment and paid 900 USD for them  ! Not even final tickets! They did not get Aeroflot (it became Rs 97,000/- at the last moment) and came by Air Astana. Their initial plan was to take Trans Siberian Railway.

Then after spending some time in Kremlin, we went to Arbat Street – a pedestrian street - I bought one impressionist style picture of St Basil Church (Or Kremlin Church as is loosely said) from there. I paid one third of what they asked initially. On the way Sanjit had some beer from complete strangers !
The "spirit" is really high in every sense of the term !

Lev Yashin
In the meantime, Roman said over Whatsapp , let’s meet before you leave. So we met them near Gorky Park. It was really difficult for us to find the location. Tatiyana was also waiting there. From there we went to a night club. We paid 300 Rouble to enter the night club. Sanjitda reluctantly paid that ! It was quite an interesting experience. After dancing for some time (it was quite late) we had to rush to catch our train. In fact we had to pay two days charges on left luggage, since we were late! We had some food from a restaurant inside the subway, beside the Station, where whatever you buy is 50 Rouble or Rs 50 !


Our train left at 01.20 hours for Kazan. It is called Istanbul of Russia/Volga. This region (including Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd) is called Volga region. Here street signs are sometimes bilingual. There is a huge oil Reserve here. Russia has spent lots of money to make sure that they remain with Russia. They are mostly of Turkic origin (not only Turks, but also Turkmens, Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis, Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Tatars and other ethnic groups as mentioned before). That period used to be called Khanate (like Sultanate in India). They are all descendants of Genghis Khan. Ivan the Terrible (1530- 584) defeated the Khans/Tatars at Kazan and brought it under Russia (and constructed St Basil Cathedral/Church). This place is called Republic of Tatarstan. There is also Republic of Mordovia, Republic of Caucasus apart from various other Republics. Here 48% is Tatar and 49% is Slavic. There are many churches and many mosques. It is also known as one of the  Finance Capitals as well as Cultural Capital of Russia. Kazan has traditionally been a university city The most famous alumni of Kazan University is Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Ilyich Ulaynov or Lenin. He was expelled from this university due to revolutionary activities.

In January 1886, when Lenin was 15, his father died of a brain haemorrhage. Subsequently he renounced his belief in God. At the time, Lenin's elder brother Alexander was studying at Saint Petersburg University. Involved in political agitation against the absolute monarchy of the reactionary Tsar Alexander III, Alexander Ulyanov studied the writings of banned leftists and organised anti-government protests. He joined a revolutionary cell bent on assassinating the Tsar and was selected to construct a bomb. Before the attack could take place the conspirators were arrested and tried, and in May, Alexander was executed by hanging. Despite the emotional trauma of his father's and brother's deaths, Lenin continued studying, graduated from school at the top of his class with a gold medal for exceptional performance, and decided to study law at Kazan University.  Upon entering Kazan University he joined a zemlyachestvo, a form of university society that represented the men of a particular region. This group elected him as its representative to the university's zemlyachestvo council, and in December, he took part in a demonstration against government restrictions that banned student societies. The police arrested Lenin and accused him of being a ring leader in the demonstration; he was expelled from the university, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs exiled him to his family's Kokushkino estate. There, he read voraciously.

Lenin's mother was concerned by her son's radicalization, and was instrumental in convincing the Interior Ministry to allow him to return to the city of Kazan, but not the university.
On his return, he joined Nikolai Fedoseev's revolutionary circle, through which he discovered Karl Marx's 1867 book Capital. This sparked his interest in Marxism, a socio-political theory that argued that society developed in stages, that this development resulted from class struggle, and that capitalist society would ultimately give way to socialist society and then communist society.  Wary of his political views, Lenin's mother bought a country estate in Alakaevka village, Samara Oblast, in the hope that her son would turn his attention to agriculture. He had little interest in farm management, and his mother soon sold the land, keeping the house as a summer home.

In September 1889, the Ulyanov family moved to the city of Samara, where Lenin joined Alexei Sklyarenko's socialist discussion circleThere, Lenin fully embraced Marxism and produced a Russian language translation of Marx and Engels's 1848 political pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto. He began to read the works of the Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov, agreeing with Plekhanov's argument that Russia was moving from feudalism to capitalism and so socialism would be implemented by the proletariat or urban working class, rather than the peasantry. This perspective contrasted with the view of the agrarian-socialist Narodnik movement, which held that the peasantry could establish socialism in Russia by forming peasant communes, thereby bypassing capitalism. Lenin rejected the premise of the agrarian-socialist argument, but was influenced by agrarian-socialists and befriended several Narodniks.

In May 1890, Maria—who retained societal influence as the widow of a nobleman—persuaded the authorities to allow Lenin to take his exams externally at the University of St Petersburg, where he obtained the equivalent of a first-class degree with honours. The graduation celebrations were marred when his sister Olga died of typhoid. Lenin remained in Samara for several years, working first as a legal assistant for a regional court and then for a local lawyer. He devoted much time to radical politics, remaining active in Sklyarenko's group and formulating ideas about how Marxism applied to Russia. Inspired by Plekhanov's work, Lenin collected data on Russian society, using it to support a Marxist interpretation of societal development and counter the claims of the Narodniks.
In late 1893, Lenin moved to Saint Petersburg. There, he worked as a barrister's assistant and rose to a senior position in a Marxist revolutionary cell that called itself the "Social-Democrats" after the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Alexander Pushkin is like Tagore of Russia. Almost everybody knows a line from Pushkin. Russia (17 million or 1.7 Crore sq Km) is much bigger in size compared to India (3.3 million or 33 Lakh sq Km of India) - which is 1/5th of Russia.  America is 3 times the size of India, whereas Brazil is 2.7 times India. So the size of Russia is huge, whereas population of Russia is only 14 Crore . So it is almost 1/10 of India. Their GDP is 2 Trillion Dollar, similar to India and Brazil. The per capita income of Russia is therefore 10 times of India. Brazil is 11,000 USD compared to 1800 USD of India. Although Russia or Brazil is part of BRICS, but is in  a different league. Here 71% people follow Orthodox Christianity, 10% follow Islam and 15% has no religion. There are some Catholics (1%) too. Almost all the Princes of Czars are from Germany. The priests wear a black robe. Most of my friends here are atheists. In Russia only 8.4 people stay per sq Km compared to 406 in  India.

If we consider the Ural Mountains as the border between Europe and Asia, 75% of Russian population live in European area and 25% live in Asia. But 77% of Russia's area is in Asia and only 23% is in European area . However European Russia occupies almost 40% of Europe's total area. Yekaterinburg is just on the West of Ural Mountain.

Therefore , while Russia shares a European and an Asian  heritage, Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, and Spain between Europe and Africa. When we think of Russian culture, we think of ethnic Russians who live in Eastern Europe rather than the many native peoples in Siberia, and associate it with the country as a whole. But if you really ask Russians whether they are European or Asian, they would incline more to a European then Asian. But some Russians may even say “I am neither European or Asian, I am Russian”.

Tatarstan is a melting pot of Asia and Europe. Today there is a match between France vs Argentina. In the train, it is full of Argentinians. They are very high on life and very rowdy too and they were shouting like anything in the train. They are highly spirited - you can easily make out. It seemed to me, they are  somewhat like local football crowds of Kolkata !  Like Indians they lack discipline. No wonder their economy is not doing well. There is hyper inflation in Argentina even few years back. Interestingly I did not see a single French supporter dancing ! It was a complete study in contrast.

During the world cup, we get many interesting updates/ cartoons, which are lost with time. I thought it is not a bad idea, to document them. Here are few samples, which I found interesting !

# 1
মুহূর্ত চলে গেলে আর আসেনা ফিরে, তাই ওরা একবার চলে গেলে আর ফিরবে না, যেমন  ' ৯৪ এর পর আর ফেরেনি ম্যারাডোনার সরল হাসি, বেকহ্যাম এর ফ্রি-কিক ফিরবে না আর, পেলে আর রোজ রোজ মাঠে নামবে না আরো ১০০০ টা গোল করার জন্য, কই এত তো ভিড় দেখি - কিন্তু এল-লোকো নাম নিয়ে গোলের নীচে পাগলামো করতে হিগুয়েতা আর নামে না তো ...! হাঙ্গেরির হয়ে মাঠে তো কোনো পুসকাস আর দৌড়োয় না...! মাঠে নামার সময় বার্থেজ এর মাথায় আদরের চুমু খেতে তো দেখা যায়না জিনেদিন জিদান কে...আর কয়েক দিন পরেই ইনিয়েস্তা কেও আর দেখা যাবেনা, যেমন নীল চোখের প্লাতিনি কে আর দেখা যায় না, রোনালডিনিহোর বিখ্যাত হাসি কি আর রোজ রোজ মাঠে দেখা যায়?

এরা সময় সময় আমাদের জীবনে আসে, তারপর কয়েক মুহূর্তে আমাদের নিয়ে যায় তাদের স্বপ্নের দুনিয়ায়, মাতাল করে আমাদের, পাগল করে আমাদের...মুষ্টিবদ্ধ হাত আকাশে তুলে চিৎকার করে মৃত্যু কে বুড়ো আঙ্গুল দেখিয়ে বলি 'আহা ! জীবন কি ছন্দময়, কি সুন্দর' ।।।

তারপর চলে যায়... ফেলে রেখে কিছু ড্রিবলিং-চোরা পাস আর কিছু আনন্দ-কান্না-দুঃখ নিয়ে আমাদের মনের আলমারিতে সযত্নে সাজিয়ে রাখা সোনালী মুহূর্তগুলো ।।। আর দিনে দিনে হয়ে ওঠে আমাদের অত্যন্ত কাছের কেউ ।

এরা ফিরে আসেনা, এরা নিজেদের উজাড় করে আমাদের ভাসাতে আসে, এরা আমাদের ভালোবাসতে আসে, ভালোবাসাতে আসে ...

তেমন আর মেসি ফিরবে না, রোনাল্ডো ফিরবেনা, মুহূর্ত গুলো আর ফিরবে না...তাই চলুন ...হয়তো আর কয়েকটা দিন, আর কয়েকটা ঘণ্টা, সময় হয়ে এসেছে, মেসির জন্য গলা ফাটাবার, আর একটা রাত জাগার । যেমন টা কাল ফাটিয়েছিলাম রোনাল্ডোর জন্য, আসুন সবাই মিলে উপভোগ করি এই জাদুকরদের । এদের হেরে যেতে নেই, এরা হেরে গেলে ফুটবল হেরে যাবে । জীবন হেরে যাবে, ছন্দ হেরে যাবে

এরা আছে বলেই স্বপ্ন আছে, হার না মানা জয় আছে, অসম্ভব কে সম্ভব করা আছে, চ্যাম্পিয়নরা হারে না, আজ কাল অথবা পরশু, ফলাফল যাই হোক, যেই দলই জিতুক । রোনাল্ডো মেসিরা হারবে না, হারতে পারেনা ...হারতে দেবোনা ।।।

১৯৪৬ সাল। দ্বিতীয় বিশ্বযুদ্ধের পরমানু হিংসার ক্ষত জাপানের শরীর জুড়ে। জাপানের প্রধানমন্ত্রী দেশবাসীর কাছে আবেদন জানালেন, বিশ্বযুদ্ধের বিপুল ক্ষতি পূরণের জন্য দেশবাসীকে এগিয়ে আসতে।যে যে কাজ করেন। নির্দিষ্ট সময়ের পর প্রতিদিন এক ঘণ্টা করে ফ্রি তে সেই কাজ করার জন্য।একবছর এই ভাবে অতিরিক্ত সার্ভিস দিলে যে অতিরিক্ত উৎপাদন বা শ্রমমূল্য পাওয়া যাবে তা জমা পরবে সরকারের ঘরে।আর সরকার তাই দিয়ে পূরণ করবে পরমানু হানার ক্ষত। "কেন যুদ্ধ হোল? সরকার নিজেরা কী করছে?" এইসব প্রশ্ন না করে জনগন লেগে গেলো দেশ সেবায়। একবছর এই ভাবে ফ্রি সার্ভিস দেবার পর সরকার ধন্যবাদ জ্ঞাপন করে জানালো আমরা কৃতজ্ঞ, আপনাদের সেবায় দেশ ক্ষতি পূরণ করে নিয়েছে অনেকটাই। কাল থেকে আবার নির্দিষ্ট সময়ের কাজ করবেন আপনারা। সরকারকে অবাক করে জনগণ সরকারের কাছে আবেদন জানালো তারা দেশের স্বার্থে আরও এক বছর এই অতিরিক্ত সার্ভিস দিতে চায়। এই হোল জাপান। দেশপ্রেম তাদের রক্তে। তার জোরেই তারা অসম্ভবকে সম্ভব করে তোলে। বৃহৎ দেশ চিনকে করে পদানত, বৃহৎ শক্তি রাশিয়া তাদের কাছে যুদ্ধে হয় পরাজিত।

সেই জাপান কাল খেলতে নেমেছিল আফ্রিকান শক্তি সেনেগালের সাথে। ফুটবল হোল শক্তির খেলা। গতিতে শক্তিতে দমে সেনেগাল অনেক এগিয়ে।ভাবছিলাম এই দৈত্যদের কীভাবে সামলাবে এশিয় ক্ষুদ্র দেশের ক্ষুদ্র মানুষরাশুরু হোল খেলা। অদম্য ইচ্ছাশক্তি যে ঢেকে দেয় অনেক ঘাটতি, জাপান প্রথম থেকেই দেখিয়ে দিলো তা। দম দেওয়া পুতুলের মতো দৌড়ল মাঠ জুড়ে। গতি পাসিং এমনকি শক্তিতেও টক্কর দিতে লাগলো সমানতালে। দম বেরিয়ে যাচ্ছিলো সেনেগালের। আফ্রিকান দৈত্যরাও বোধয় আশা করেনি তা। সাড়ে ছয় ফুটের কালো মানুষ গুলির মাথার ওপর দিয়ে যখন হেড দিচ্ছিল ওই ক্ষুদ্র মানুষগুলি, মনে হচ্ছিলো পাহাড় টপকে সূর্যোদয় হচ্ছে এশিয় ফুটবলের। খেলা ২-২ ড্র হলেও মনে থেকে যাবে বল possession-এ জাপানের এগিয়ে থাকা, জাপানের শট বারে লেগে ফিরে আসা,সেনেগাল গোলকিপারের অতিমানবীয় সেভ। জাপান হয়তো জিতলো না, পরের রাউণ্ডে যাওয়াও অনিশ্চিত। কিন্তু দেখিয়ে দিলো, আত্মবিশ্বাস থাকলে, চেষ্টা থাকলে অনেক ঘাটতি অতিক্রম করা যায়। শিখুক এশিয়া শিখুক ভারত, বিশ্বাস করুক আমরাও পারি। সূর্যোদয়ের দেশ সূর্যোদয় ঘটাক সমগ্র এশিয়ার।

পুনশ্চঃ বিশ্বকাপে মাঠের খেলার বাইরেও থাকে অনেক ঘটনা। যা নাড়া দেয় হৃদয়কে,চেতনাকে। ২০১৪ বিশ্বকাপ। ব্রাজিলের মাঠে কলম্বিয়ার কাছে ৪-১ গোলে হেরে গেলো জাপান। উল্লাসে মত্ত কলম্বিয়ার সমর্থকরা মাঠ ছাড়ার পর দেখা গেলো জাপানি সমর্থকরা তখনও গ্যালারিতে। বিষণ্ণ মুখে গ্যালারি সাফ করে আবর্জনা ফেলছে নির্দিষ্ট বক্সে। সারা বিশ্বের পেপারে ছাপা হয়েছিলো সে ছবি। সেই চেতনা, সেই মানসিকতা স্তম্ভিত করেছিলো সুসভ্য ইউরোপ ও আধুনিকতার ধ্বজাধারি আমেরিকাকে। জাপান গর্বিত করেছিলো এশিয়াকে। এগিয়ে চলো জাপান। মাঠে অথবা মাঠের বাইরে। তাকিয়ে থাকবো তোমাদের দিকে সূর্যোদয়ের আশায়।

# 2


French  World Cup Players   are :

1) Presnel Kimpembe - Congo
2) Samuel Umtiti - Cameroon
3) Paul Pogba- Guinea
4) Kylian Mbappé - Cameroon/Nigeria
5) Ousmane Dembélé - Senegal/Mali
6) Corentin Tolisso - Togo
7) N'Golo Kanté - Mali
8) Blaise Matuidi - DR Congo, Angola
9) Steven Nzonzi - DR Congo
10) Steve Mandanda - DR Congo
11) Adil Rami - Morocco
12) Nabil Fekir - Algeria
13) Djibril Sidibé - Senegal
14) Benjamin Mendy - Senegal

We reached Kazan at 12.35 pm. We reached exactly on time. We decided not to keep the luggage in the left luggage facility in the Rail station. We had our Brunch infront of a nice Patisserie shop. The prices are quite cheap and food is good. We met some lovely Argentinian fans there.

Khachapuri - famous Georgian food

Then we took a tram to reach the stadium.

Fifa made wonderful arrangements in the stadium itself and it is free. So we kept our luggage in the stadium.

There is nothing much to say about today's match. France won 4-3, probably the best match of the tournament. I thought I was extremely lucky to see a match like this. I thought it was a wrong decision to play Messi so upfront – where he was heavily marked. He should have played as withdrawn half, so that he can create moves from Argentina's half line. He hardly got any ball. But whenever he got the ball, he showed his class. The Argentinian team is very ordinary. I felt very sorry for Messi though. Grizman and Mbappe played very well.

Everything is very expensive inside the stadium

We met an Argentinian who was selling the ticket, since Argentina lost. But that match is in Nizhny Novgorod and tomorrow we will be leaving for St Petersburg via Moscow. He was telling me many people are unhappy with the coach Jorge Sampaoli. Messi was marked throughout the match. Why he was not allowed to fall back and play the game maker, is beyond my understanding. After the match the whole stadium became a necropolis - exactly opposite to what we saw before the match. Nobody is shouting - complete study in contrast. 

I met two Bengalis from Kolkata - one of them is Anirban Bhattacharya.

On the way back, we met Sankar Das from Siliguri. He is into Real Estate. His dress is quite unique – one side (horizontally) it is Russian Flag and the other side it is Indian Flag. Many people took pictures with him. The only word he could say (in English) to the Argentinian supporters is " I like Messi and I like Maradona" - and it ended with a whistle . 

He came here with the help of Leisure Sports of Benu Das Gupta. He told me, 2 tickets (of today's match) were wasted because somebody did not have the confidence to come here, on their own to see the match. Leisure Sports is not taking people to this venue  (don’t know why ).

He told me some tickets might be available for the match in St Petersburg. I took his number and requested him to ask Leisure Sports Guide cum Coordinator, if any ticket is available. They are all proceeding towards St Petersburg after this match. Panna-da has also come here to see the world cup with the help of Leisure Sports.

After chatting for some time with Sankar Das we took a tram to go to McDonald's, where I decided to meet Andrey, my host. My phone stopped working. I had to use somebody else 's phone to call him. Second time in my life, in the last 8 years of my travel around the world, I am going to McDonalds - since it is a landmark and everybody knows it. More importantly with non functional phone, there are not any options either. We had some snacks there and soon we were joined by Andrey and his girlfriend. We had French fries. Then we went to a Tatar restaurant. We had horse meat - Kazylyk (which is very famous in Uzbekistan) - it is good. There is no Khacapuri here (We had Khachapuri after reaching Kazan- a Georgian dish) . We had some other Tatar food - Echpochmak or Etchpetchmac. We paid Rs 1300/- (1250 Rouble) for 2 person. Andrey and his girlfriend had their dinner already. But they had drinks with us. It is not very expensive.

Things to eat in Kazan are :

1. Echpohmak
2. Bakkan or Bekken
3. Qıstıbí kystybyi with mashed potato
4.Gubadiya with raisins
5. Kazylyk - Horse meat with stewed vegetables
6. Manti (dumpling) or 
for details 

Andrey's grandfather was a Tatar. His girlfriend is half Uzbek. But you cannot make out from their looks. They are very nice and warm. There is a super market just opposite to his house . We went there to buy some stuff. It is open 24 hours! Then we came back to their home and called it a day.

After today’s match, I got another interesting forwarded message, which I found funny !

মেসি রোনাল্ডো করে অনেক সময় নষ্ট করলাম । আজ থেকে ডেনমার্কের সাপোর্টার । কারন, সেন বংশের অনেকগুলি ছেলে ওদের দলে খেলছে । আন্ডারসেন, পিটারসেন, এরিকসেন আরো বেশ কয়জন । আর সেনদের ব্যাপারে বাঙালীর একটা আলাদা "সেন"টিমেন্ট আছে এটা তো সবার জানা । বাংলার ইতিহাসের পাতায় বা সিনেমার পর্দায়, সেনদের অবদান সত্যিই অনস্বীকার্য । বল্লাল সেন, লক্ষন সেন, হরি সেন, গৌরী সেন, সুচিত্রা সেন, রাইমা সেন কাকে ছেড়ে কাকে রাখি । আর হ্যাঁ, দলটার গুডউইল অ্যাম্বাস্যাডার কে জান ? নান্ আদার দ্যান শ্রীযুক্ত সুদীপ্ত সেন । সত্যি..... দারুন একটা "সেন"সেশনাল ব্যাপার  ॥


প্রদীপ সংঘ মাত্র একমাস আগে  একটা পঞ্চান্ন ইঞ্চির টেলিভিশন কিনেছে। সবাই মিলে ক্লাবঘরে বিশ্বকাপ দেখবে বলে। তপন কাকা রিক্সা চালায়। সন্ধ্যাবেলা ক্লাবে এসে টিভি দেখে। খালি বিড়ি খায়। বিড়ি খেতে খেতেই বিশ্বকাপ দেখে। কিন্তু চুপচাপ। কোনও মন্তব্য করে না। গোল হলেও চুপচাপ। না হলেও। পেনাল্টি মিস হলেও কোনও কথা বলে না। কিন্তু সারাক্ষণ চোখটা টিভির পর্দায়। ক্লাবের ছেলেরা ব্রাজিল আর আর্জেন্টিনায় দুই ভাগ। একদিন কৌতুহল বশত একজন প্রশ্ন করল, কাকা তুমি কার সাপোর্টার? তপন কাকা গম্ভীর ভাবে বলল, যে ভাল খেলবে তার। যেদিন আর্জেন্টিনা ড্র করল সেদিনও তপন কাকা  বিড়ি খেতে খেতে খেলা দেখেছে। ব্রাজিলের সাথে সুইজারল্যান্ডের যেদিন খেলা ছিল সেদিন অনেকে বলাবলি করছিল, আজ মনে হয় তপন কাকা আসবে না। এত রাতে কী করে আসবে, সারাদিন রিক্সা চালিয়ে যা পরিশ্রম হয়! সাড়ে এগারো বাজার কয়েক মিনিট আগে কাকা ঠিক হাজির। একটা লম্বা ঢেকুর তুলে গ্যাঁট হয়ে শতরঞ্চির উপর বসে ফস করে একটা বিড়ি ধরাল। ক্লাবের ছেলেদের মধ্যে তখন রোনাল্ডো, মেসি আর নেইমারকে নিয়ে তুমুল বাক বিতন্ডা চলছিল। কে বড় সেই নিয়ে খিস্তি খেউর প্রায় হাতাহাতি হয়ে যায় আর কি। তপন কাকা যথারীতি মৌন ও নিরুত্তাপ। হঠাৎ কে একজন গলার শিরা ফুলিয়ে জিজ্ঞেস করল, ও তপা কাকা তুমি বলো তো মেসি রোনাল্ডো আর নেইমারের মধ্যে কে সেরা?

তপন কাকা একবার বিরক্ত চোখে তাকাল। একমুখ ধোঁয়া ছেড়ে বলল, নেইমারের কথা আসছে কেন?
কেন না আসার কী হল? নেইমার কি বড় ফুটবলার নয়? তপন কাকা শান্ত গলায় বলল, মেসি আর রোনাল্ডোর ধারে কাছে নেইমার আসে না।
ব্রাজিলের সাপোর্টাররা খচে গিয়ে জিজ্ঞেস করল, কী বলছ কাকা? নেইমারকে নেওয়ার জন্য বার্সেলোনা ও রিয়াল মাদ্রিদের মধ্যে কাড়াকাড়ি লেগে গেছে, খোঁজখবর রাখো কিছু? 

তপন কাকা ততোধিক শান্ত গলায় বলল, না। যেদিন মেসি আর রোনাল্ডোর মত নেইমারের নামেও বিড়ি বার হবে সেদিন বুঝব নেইমার একটা বড় প্লেয়ার।


We had breakfast together and then left for the city tour. We left with our luggage , since we were not coming back. Our friend dropped us at a convenient place. We kept our luggage at the left luggage facility of Kazan Vogzal or Station. Here they charged 200 Rouble per luggage, unlike 250 in Moscow.

First, we went to see the Kremlin. It is similar to Lal Killa (though colour is not Red). It is on an elevated place (like Acropolis in Greece). There is a Church and mosque inside the Kremlin. The name of the mosque is Kulsharif mosque. It has derived its name from the Imam who had tried to protect the Mosque from the Ivan the Terrible in 1552. (Babur had already come to India by this time). He died in 1552.

After that, we went to see different parts of the city, walking. The city itself is breathtaking.

There is a pedestrian street like Moscow. We went to a Bar on this pedestrian street and saw the match between Spain vs Russia. I had soup and local dumpling - Pelmeni (Dumpling is a broad classification for a dish that consists of pieces of dough (made from a variety of starch sources) wrapped around a filling - Momo/Wanton/Gyoza/Shumai /Dim Sum/Pelmeni/Manti/Gnocchi &Ravioli - Italian dumpling)


Sanjit-da had Beer. Russians were very excited during the match. They won 4-3 in Penalty shoot out..

But their emotions are largely suppressed and they do not celebrate like the Latinos. So many years of Communism have made their emotions muted. Although they were shouting "Rossia, Rossia”, but it is for a very short period of time.  After the match, we walked through the pedestrian street. There is a wonderful Bell Tower on this street. 

We met a Russian Professor, with her daughter. She said there are Indian students in her University.

In Kazan 39% of the population is Muslim. I saw some women in hijab. The architecture is slightly different. There is a metro in this city. But it is single line like Kolkata, without any intersection. There is tram, trolley bus too. The city is absolutely clean – litter free. There is  Kazan river, from which the city derived its name, I guess. There is a city tour - hop on hop off bus tour. But we did not use public transport for the city tour. 

After we were done with our city tour, we left for the station - since we had to catch train at 9.57 pm.

One of the reasons why train is so punctual is, drivers get bonus, if it is on time. I am sure Putin, also made special effort towards this, in view of the world cup - since the world cup is much more than just football. Everybody (whom I talked to, in Russia), is very happy, with the way everything is organized and generally with Russian people. Kazan is less bilingual than what I thought / read. Not too many sign boards are bilingual. At least I did not come across any. My friend can still read Tatar language. But hegemony of Russian language will gradually overshadow this language. 


We reached Kazansky station of Moscow in time. Just opposite to it is Leningradsky/ Oktyabrskaya station. Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky and Kazansky Railway Stations are all located together on Komsomolskaya Ploschad which is served by Komsomolskaya metro station. People often call this square Ploschad Tryok Vokzalov (Three Stations Square).

We have to catch a train from here to leave for St Petersburg (or Leningrad). Today we are taking a very fast train. It is more expensive. Our train left at 11.40 am from Leningradsky/  Oktyabrskaya station and reached St Petersburg (SPB) at 3.40 pm, at “Moscow station” . 

There is a nice restaurant opposite to Moscow station. We had our lunch there. The restaurant is like an assembly line. You have to push a tray and point out the food you want to order, to the attendant - so that he/she gives the "right" quantity for you. At the end of it, you will be charged according to the food on your plate. Different types of food are kept inside the cabinet. For breads, you can take on your own. For food or soup, the attendants will give it to you. It is found in many places in St Petersburg.

It is somewhat similar to Rodizio or por quilo buffet restaurant in Brazil - where they weigh it. Here it is not weighed. There is a standard measure - which attendants will give.

Today there is match of Brazil (vs Mexico). Olga told us to see the match at Rubinstein. Since it was raining, we decided to see it in a nearby cafe. The architecture of SPB or St Petersburg is quite stunning to stay the least.

We met an Uzbek person , who was also looking for a Cafe, to see the match l like us. He took us to a cafe cum restaurant and said his daughter will also join them, after some time. His daughter speaks perfect English. He used to play football in amateur level for 40 years. 

Then, after the match, we left for Olga's house. The main road here is called Nevsky Prospekt. Olga’s house is near Nevsky Prospekt and not very far from the cafe. There is a wonderful church near her house.

In fact we walked all the way to her house. She is from Vladivostok. It lies to the extreme East of Russia and it is not very far from Japan (no wonder she has visited Japan and Korea). Her mother and grandmother are from Vladivostok. She got interested about India from her mother. She has heard about Mithun Chakraborty and seen Indian movies like Devdas.  Soon she was joined by her husband.

They live in a communal home. It is a big house once owned by a bourgeoisie or rich people. It was later allocated to 5/7 families after Bolshevik Revolution. One big Room per family. You share a common kitchen (each of them are having their own oven) and common bathroom. 

Olga and her husband travel a lot - they have traveled 9 countries last year. They have plans to go to Italy next year. Her husband is from the South - Volga region, near Nizhny Novgorod. He is a dental technician. Olga works in a real estate company.

Communal home is a unique experience for me. It is right on the main road - prime location. There are many communal homes like this. So even though things are very rosy from outside, actually it is not so. The entrance of the building is very shabby (invariably made of cemented finish) , but when you enter the house it is quite nice - interior is modern with wall paper. This is true for almost all the places I have stayed till date. The reason is: the entrance is nobody's child !

Today there is Japan vs Belgium match. We saw it on their computer. When the match got over it was 11.30 pm. We went outside for dinner with Olga's husband. It was a similar kind of restaurant, like the one where we had the lunch - like an assembly line. But it is open 24 hours ! It is very near to their house. You get all kinds of food - cutlet, soft drinks etc. I must add one thing, fruit juice here is very cheap - around 50-60 Roubles i.e. half of what you pay in India for a litre of Fruit juice. We had lots of fruit juice.

Here there is sun light till 11.30 pm. In Moscow normally you will find light till 10 pm only. So our sense of time, all got screwed up. You cannot make out the time, looking at the shops (remain open quite late) or metro - unless you look at the watch. Here you pay 45 Rouble for each ride in Metro, unlike 55 Rouble (pronounced as Rubble). We have purchased a metro card for 55 Rouble- since we will stay here for quite some time. We bought many rides for 430 Rouble (- 55 for the card).

Our Check list for different kinds of food to be tried  at St Petersburg :

1.Black Caviar (Ikra)
2. Borscht soup
3 Pierogi pies with cabbage & boiled eggs
4. Olivye  or  Olivier Salad (Russian salad)
5. Russian dumpling (Pelmeni non veg - we had in Kazan bar during the match &Vareniki, Manti is basically Turkish...which I had in we saw many mid Eastern deserts)             
6. Sirniki - cheese pancake for breakfast
7. Samsa (or our Samosa)
8. Khachapuri - Georgian dish. Georgian foods are very popular here.
9. Khinkali( Georgian dumpling) 
10. Selyodka - Pickled fish
11.Blini or Pancake
12. Holodet or zalivnoe (Meat jelly)
13. Shuba or Shuboy (traditional salad)
14. Gorohoviy soup or Pea soup
15. Plov( plao)
16. Kompot (type of juice)
17. Holodnik - cold soup
18. Okroshka with  Kvass or with Kefire - soupy type
19. Pirozhki - baked buns with filling

Since we are staying till 8.7.18, we have ample time in our hands to try these.


Today we took the metro to go to Nevsky Prospekt metro station. Nevsky Prospekt is the most important road in Moscow. We reached Kazan Cathedral (Kazan Sobor) walking - it looks exactly like St Peters Cathedral of Vatican. We spent some time there.

Then we started walking along Nevsky Prospekt. We reached Armitrage Museum (Hermitage museum). There was hardly any time left for visiting the museum. So we decided to go there later. 

We left for Neva River - the main river here. St Petersburg is somewhat like Brugge/Ghent of Belgium or Venice of Italy. There are many canals. There are number cruises which are available for the tourists along the Canal.

Then we went to Peter and Paul (P&P) Fortress, after crossing the Neva river. In 1703 it was used as Military fortress and till 1917 it was used for keeping political prisoners - Gorky, Trotsky, Dostoyevskey, Alexei - son of Peter. The fortress 's spire is quite unique - landmark of P&P. The P&P Fortress is quite big and there are some museums too. !

Inside P&P

Near the fortress there is a mosque.The mosque is modelled on a Gur e Amir - Azure mosque, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. You get to see this kind of coloured mosque – Azure, in Iran also.

St Petersburg is often referred to as enchanting or elegant as Prague or Budapest - it is the most European of Russian cities. You get to see more of Corinthian and Ionic pillars and less of Baroque.

We started walking back, since today there is a match. Then we took a metro, to reach Nevsky Prospekt and see Sweden and Switzerland match in a bar.

We again started walking along the river/canal and reached Rubenstein (the place Olga recommended) and finally went to Subway, to see the England vs Colombia match and finally left for Olga's house just before the tie breaker and saw the penalty shoot out in Olga’s house (as we were getting late). On the way we saw that there are some tickets available for Ballet based on Swan Lake of Tchaikovsky. The show is on 6.7.18. On that day there is a Brazil match. I told them, I cannot miss Brazil match. So I did not buy the ticket. There is a programme on 7.7.2019 also.


Today, after waking up, we left for Evgeny, to our new host's, house by metro. It is not on the main road. We changed the metro and took the red line to get down at Veteronov. From there you have to take a bus to reach his house. We had lunch together – meat (beef) based Borscht Soup with bread, unlike the vegetarian Borscht soup we had previously.  It was quite good.

As he was going to meet his mother and won’t be coming back today, he handed over the house key to us ! We left for Nevsky Prospekt by metro. 

Once again we went near Winter Palace or Hermitage museum. Hermitage museum was Winter Palace of the Czar or official residence of Czars from 1932-1917. It is a historic building which bears testimony to many important events in the history of Russia. Winter Palace is inside a Palace square / Ploschad. There are 1057 rooms in Winter Palace.Out of that, 360  rooms are opened to pubic for this museum. There are 3 million or 30 lakh artefacts in this museum. Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the great) commissioned this building in 1754 (though it was first constructed earlier in 1714 as a log house). 

Concerned that the German Army, during World War I, posed a threat to Petrograd or SPB, in March 1918 Bolsheviks relocated to Moscow, initially as a temporary measure. There, Lenin, Trotsky and other Bolshevik leaders moved into the Kremlin, where Lenin lived with his wife and sister Maria in a first floor apartment adjacent to the room in which the Sovnarkom meetings were held. Lenin disliked Moscow, but rarely left the city centre during the rest of his life. Therefore Moscow which was never the centre of activity during Czar's time, became the capital of Soviet Union.

There is a General Staff building - just beside Hermitage - inside this square - where you get to see  modern painting, unlike Medieval and other painting in Hermitage museum. You can see Alexander column (1812) in this square. 

Catherine the great (1729 - 1796 ; the only woman ruler of Russia) was one of the greatest collectors of art of all time. It continued till Nicholas I (1796-1855). The gallery was open to public in 1852. Romanov dynasty ruled from 1613-1917, almost 300 years. Before that Russia went into the dark ages. Peter the great in 1703 expanded the area to Arctic in the north, Caucasus in the South, Siberia in the East. Catherine extended the progressive policy of Peter the great. Catherine made it into a great power in mid 18th Century. So the art collection started around mid 18th Century and continued till Nicholas I. In 1852 after 100 years of collection, it was opened to the public.

courtesy : Carlos Daniel
We will go to the museum tomorrow. We walked in the street to feel the pulse of the city.

Cathedral is called Sobor in Russian. People in the street won’t understand the term Cathedral - you have to say Sobor. 

Then we went to the Church of spilled blood (Church of resurrection of Christ - constructed in 1887) - very near to Hermitage museum. This is also similar to St Basil Cathedral in Kremlin, Moscow !  This is the landmark of St Petersburg, though the style is quite different from other structures. This is the place where assassination of Alexander II took place in 1881 and final Czar Nicholas II took charge till 1917, when he was deposed by Bolshevik Revolutionaries.

Then we went on to see Cathedral of Isaac or Isacevsky Sobor,  along a wonderful Avenue.  

A news report of how prices of tickets got reduced after the turn of events.

We had our dinner at one of buffet restaurants . It was a great value for money.


Our friend had booked our tickets for Hermitage museum (or Armitaz phonetically) and also  for the Ballet, based on Swan Lake. He bought an expensive ticket for us- 3000 Rouble each - for a nice view (though cheaper ones were also available) for  7.7.2019.

Hermitage museum is an exceptional museum, comparable to Louvre, Paris , if not better.

The Egyptian part in this museum is better than what I saw in Vatican.

There are many things displayed from Syria or Assyria (now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey) or kingdom of Northern Mesopotamia. It became the centre of one of the great empires of the ancient Middle East. The word Assyrian comes from the city of Ashur on the west bank of the Tigris about 300 km north of Baghdad.  In ancient times their civilization was centered at the city of Assur (also called Ashur), the ruins of which are located in what is now northern Iraq. The city had a god that was also called Assur or Ashur and Deva was Demon in Persia/Iran. 

Assyrians were great in military power. It emerged as an independent state in the 14th century BC (3400 years ago).  The Assyrian kings began a new period of expansion in the 9th century BC and from the mid-8th to the late 7th century BC, a series of strong Assyrian kings united most of the Middle East, from Egypt to the Persian Gulf, under Assyrian rule. The last great Assyrian ruler was Ashurbanipal, but his last years and the period following his death, in 627 BC, are obscure. The state was finally destroyed in 612–609 BC. Famous for their cruelty and fighting prowess, the Assyrians were also monumental builders, as shown by archaeological sites at Nineveh, Ashur, and Nimrūd.

Towards the end of the 7th century BC (2700 years ago), Assyria collapsed. Babylon took over , before being conquered by the emerging Persian Empire in the mid-6th century, which in turn fell to Alexander the Great two centuries later.

The city of Assur first gained its independence about 4,000 years ago. Before independence the city was controlled by a people known as the Sumerians and only gained its independence after the Sumerian civilization declined. Ancient records indicate that by 3500 years ago i.e. 1500 B.C. the city of Assur was heavily influenced (if not directly controlled) by Mittani. During the 14th century B.C. (middle Assyrian period) , the Kingdom of Mitanni began to fade and those in charge of Assur began to assert the city's independence. It may not be out of place to mention that the first people to leave behind evidence of having spoken Sanskrit aren't Hindus or Indians – they were Mittani Syrians.

The earliest form of Sanskrit is, the one used in the Rig Veda (called Old Indic or Rigvedic Sanskrit). Amazingly, Rigvedic Sanskrit was first recorded in inscriptions found not on the plains of India but in what is now northern Syria. The Mitanni worshiped the same gods as those in the Rig Veda  (but also had their own local ones). They signed a treaty with a rival king in 1380 BC which names Indra, Varuna, Mitra and the Nasatyas (Ashvins) as divine witnesses for the Mitannis.

Modern-day scholars often divide Assyrian history into three periods: the Old Assyrian, Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian periods. 

During the Neo-Assyrian period the kings of Assyria increased their kingdom's size to its largest yet. In addition to retaking Babylon, and part of modern-day Lebanon, the Assyrians launched a series of campaigns into modern-day Israel and Palestine, earning them numerous mentions in the Hebrew Bible. 
At the time they encountered the Assyrians the Jewish people were divided into a northern kingdom called Israel and a southern kingdom called Judah. The two Jewish kingdoms frequently clashed with each other. 

Both Assyrian inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible say that the Assyrians, under King Sargon II completely destroyed Israel. Sargon II said in an inscription that he "conquered and sacked" all the towns and cities in Israel and "led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants

His successor Sennacherib ( 704-681 B.C.) turned his attention to Judah, conquering its cities and towns and laying siege to Jerusalem itself. However while accounts from both the Hebrew Bible and Assyrian inscriptions say that the siege took place, it's unclear exactly how the battle ended. 

There is an Italian Room too 

There is a Flemish Section also - Van Dyke, Rubens were in display.

Dutch room consisted of - Rembrandt, Van Gogh. 

Then we went to General Staff building. It is within the Winter Palace Square , but not attached to Hermitage museum. It hasa  collection of modern art - Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Kandinsky. We went a little late to  this museum. That is why we could not see Rodin . I was the last person to be thrown out from the museum, after playing hide and seek !Ideally you should reach there by 9 am. It closes around 5.30 pm. Rembrandt obviously is not here, since he is from 17th  Century. You have to decide before hand which section or room to concentrate on.

French room consisted of - Renoir, Monet, Manet, Gauguin

Pictures of Picasso and some other pictures were also there.

There are many pictures for sale here. They are printed on Canvas. The picture really looks good. In Amsterdam, the pictures sold were not on canvas. Also the pictures were very expensive. I bought 8 pictures here - Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso. Only those - which are on display hereare sold. The pictures cost much less compared to Amsterdam.

After coming back home , we had a grand dinner today with Evgeny. There was a special home made alcohol - which you have to drink at one go. It has 39% alcohol - somewhat similar to Wasabi !  

We also had Borscht soup.

We also had raw marinated Mackerel (salty). He bought it from a shop. It was quite interesting. With that we had onion. There were some leafy vegetables - salads too.

Yesterday he went to his mother's house - which is 80 km from his house . He brought some strawberries for us from the garden. 

He bought some famous Red Caviar for us. It looks like Mihidana. There are two types of Caviar - red and black. Black Caviar is very expensive and is made near Siberia. However they make red caviar near Stalingrad/Volgograd in the South. There is a place where they cultivate it - it looks like a manufacturing unit ! Black Caviar dish costs Rs 2500. Even in the super market a small jar costs Rs 2500. It takes 8 years, before  Caviar can be obtained from the fish. Caviar is nothing but a fish eggs. They slit open the fish and take out the Caviar and stitch it  and leave the fish to the pond ! It tastes quite nice. We also had Pelmini which  is basically a Dumpling.

Here people drink a lot of beer and not vodka. People drink Vodka only during winter, to keep themselves warm in the bitter cold. There are many beer pubs here. Red Caviar basically comes from Salmon, but black Caviar is from a different fish - Sturgeon or "Czar fish".

I learnt many things from Evgeny regarding Communal house the rooms were taken from the elite and distributed among common people, somewhat like our land reform. During those times many people 
(elitewent to France and Germany - since nobody has any special entitlement as an elite. So by 1980 almost everybody had a building or house. His grandfather was a farmer. So they moved up the social ladder fast because of these policies. However he also said, it could also have been normal progression in life, like elsewhere. He seemed to me a very rational and logical person.

Generally in Soviet time, more stress was given on bigger issues, lesser attention was given to trivial things like shirts, pants. Only few companies (2 or 4) used to sell it. So people had only 3-4 types of shirts - almost like a uniform. The quality of food was good. But things were not in abundance. There was deficit in many things. He did  not believe in conspiracy theory, that America conspired the downfall of Soviet union, like me. He said Gorbachev did not have many  options before him. He had to go for Glasnost or Perestroika. He did not do it because of conspiracy.  He also learnt many things from me - caste system, poverty of India.

Russia has become very affordable, due to devaluation of Rouble, even for an Indian. Unlike in India, even a swanky looking restaurant is quite reasonable. In India anything you buy in an airport is prohibitive. That is not the case in Europe or Russia. A typical cup of tea will cost around 70-80 Rouble compared to 110 Rouble (or Rs 120) in CCD. Even Khachapuri will cost only 50-60 Rouble. 

The basic difference between the 2 world cups in Russia and Brazil is the people. But it is organized by Fifa - so it is very well organized.Almost every major metro station has a kiosk. There is a map, made especially for the world cup. The signages are bilingual. There is a sticker attached to the English version - which makes it clear , it has been done specially for the world cup. They are allowing people to take camera, but not water. Many volunteers have been appointed. Many exhibitions have been organized with football as the theme. This time probably the volunteers are even more compared to Brazil. 
However the natural beauty of Rio De Janeiro is breathtaking - City of God. Then there is the beautiful Gold mining town of OuroPreto (first Gold rush took place here) - comparable to Italy. The architecture is Baroque. What Gaudi is to Barcelona, Oscar Niyemayar is to Brazil. In Brazil people are very fun loving. PDA or public display of affection is much more. They are very warm. The language is very sweet. Carnival atmosphere of Brazil's favela during the World cup is missing here. There is metro almost everywhere in Brazil, like Russia. In Russia we did not see any security guards. You open the door with a circular magnetic key bar/ ring. You just have to tap it on a key reader.

My friend was saying, if you go outside the main cities - you won’t find the road that well maintained. During winter there is snowfall - which is the reason  for the bad roads. But he also pointed out, that it should have been true for Finland/Norway too - but they have perfect roads ! It is bad because of poor building material. He was saying it is true for China too. The roads however in the city are good. Here we have travelled mostly by train - so we did not experience  the condition of road beyond the cities.But roads in Brazil are very good. I have travelled 62 hours by bus - but I did not encounter a bumpy ride even once. In Brazil everybody goes to the stadium with their favourite team's jersey - including a seller of pop corn. That is not true in Russia. In Copacabana beach, even old people were  playing on the beach and juggling ball. But Brazil is different from any other country I have visited.

He told me in Soviet, they used to refer each other as Tavarish and not Comrade. Comrade is a French word. Tavarish Lenin and not Comrade Lenin.

In fact the way we do LalSelam in Kolkata is not the apparently correct way.

Rather they do it like this :

An interesting article appeared in the Newspaper , which is reproduced below :


We got up a little late today, for a change. We bought a long shoe spoon (shoe horn) – which I never saw in India. Today we went to a departmental store and then had Khachapuri and returned home.

Chicken roast only for Rs 239/-

Various Salads

Our friend has booked a seat in a bar (near his house) for today’s match.  Leisure Sports informed us that there is no ticket available for today's match.

Today the first match was between France and Urguguay, France won 2-0. Not too many people turned up for the match at the bar.

After the match we went to Alexandria Park to spendsome time , before the start of the main match, Brazil vs Belgium. 

I was forwarded an interesting cartoon before the match. This was done by a very talented Bengali guy Mahafuj Ali from Krishnanagar (who now lives in Australia). You can see his other animations on his FB page MAli’s.

I learnt from him that during Soviet period they used to import movies from 3 countries - German, France and and India. During that time Disco Dancer was a hit movie and almost all the elderly people have seen it and know Mithun Chakraborty. They used to dub it in Russian. Now Indian movies are no longer shown. Almost everybody I met knew the name of Mithun Chakraborty. It is because of that crucial time in their history. People also know Amitabh and Dharmendra. Now, young people do not know Mithun Chakraborty or Indian films for that matter.After 1991 Indian movies stopped coming.
Evgeny’s wife (they got divorced recently) is now in Georgia. Russian people go to Georgia regularly and they do not need Visa. In Russia, Georgian food like khachapuris very popular.

Now it is time for the next match.

The bar is full for the match. In the bar 50% people supported Brazil. I have seen everywhere that people love Brazil or Argentina. Even my friend (originally from Siberia and grew up there when he was young. He still goes there - his house is near Lake Baikal. He used to ride horses and domesticate animals like horse, pig. He used to shoot in Siberia ! The concept of standing in line for bread,Vodka etc was not there in Siberia - it was restricted to big cities like Moscow, Leningrad) used to support Brazil for 20 years. After 2010 he now supports the Spanish.

Brazil lost 1-2, though they played quite well. Eden Hazard played exceptional football. We were all very sad after the match and went home to sleep heartbroken.

To me and to many Kolkatans , Brazil is not just the name of a country.

We saw some nice memes after Brazil lost the match.

How Brazilians react after they lost (vis a vis India)

Jogo Bonita - Ronaldinho :
Passion of a Brazilian commentator.

Bill Shankly, the legendary manager of Liverpool football club, once remarked that, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Shankly, for Brazilians, was guilty of a gross understatement.....Roger Cohen summed up the character of Brazilians in a few lines - Most Brazilians, in my experience have a natural optimism, goodness and humility — the latter captured in the extraordinary and widespread expression “desculpaqualquercoisa,” or please excuse anything that may somehow, for some reason, due to some mischance, not have been pleasing

They are deeply linked to their land. In no other country do gentleness and violence reside in such proximity to each other. It is important to win. But that is not quite everything. Brazil, five times World Cup champions, has (nearly) always played beautiful soccer — creative, liquid, improvised, unpredictable and at times outrageous. It’s a land of magic and love. 

There’s a “jeitinho” for your every need, from getting hold of a ticket to the semifinal to getting out of a speeding fine. A “jeitinho” is the means to bend the rules, display ingenuity and conjure solutions from impossible situations. It is a core part of the nation’s “jogo de cintura,” literally its ability to adjust its belt, more loosely, its endless flexibility. Somewhat like our jugaad. The poor North American “gringo,” by contrast, is literal-minded and rule-bound. Loosen up or lose. Everything is late, and even later in Bahia. So is everyone. For a dinner, usually 90 minutes late, and don’t expect anyone before the “telenovela” (TV soap opera) is over. “Atrasado” — delayed — is a state of mind. (Everywhere I saw people watching soap opera)

The nation tends to “empurrar com a barriga,” literally put things off through artful procrastination. The only place you find twinkling speed is on the soccer field, where Brazilians have “samba no pé,” or roughly magic in their feet.

In Brazil it is always  “Tudobem,” everything’s fine, there’s sun, there’s “chopp” (ice-cold draught beer) and miles of “praia” (beach). “Bola prafrente!” — keep your head up and keep the spirit. There is always the “jogo bonito” — the beautiful game. It is always thumbs up....

You cannot but feel sorry for Brazil….

After the match we got many forwards like this through whatsapp, I thought it is a good idea to document it:

আজি ম্যাচে কে করিল ভর,
বল যে পশিল গোলের পর,
কেমনে পশিল প্রবল বেগে গোল দুইদুইখান,
নাজানি কেনরে এতদিন পরে কাঁদিয়া উঠিল প্রাণ।.......

কাঁদিয়া উঠিল প্রাণ,
হলো বাঙালির মন ভারি,
ওরে লুকাকুর তেজ, লুকাকুর দৌড় রুধিয়া রাখিতে নারি

থর থর করি কাঁপিছে অধর,
মিস রাশিরাশি দেখিছে বসে,
ফুলিয়া ফুলিয়া হানিল নেইমার
গরজি উঠিছে দারুন রোষে
হেথায় হোথায় ছুটিয়া বেড়ায়,
ঘুরিয়া পড়িয়া মাটিতে গড়ায়,
গোল দিতে চায়, দেখিতে না পায় কোথায় গোলের দ্বার
কেন রে বিধাতা পাষান হেন,
চারিদিকে  বেলজিয়ান কেন,
ভাঙলো ওদের কঠিন বাঁধন,
এক গোল তবু করলো সাধন।...
নাটকের পর নাটক করিয়া,
কেবল যে চাস পেনাল্টি বর
বিশ্বজয়ী দল যে তোরা,
বরং শক্ত পায়ে বলটা ধর!

বাঙালির আঁখিতে অশ্রুধারা....
বাঙালি দুঃখে দিশেহারা,
বাঙালি জগৎ প্লাবিয়া হৃদয় ভাঙিয়া
আকুল পাষানপারা
উপোষ করিয়া, পাঁচালি পড়িয়া ,
হলুদ-সবুজের পতাকা উড়াইয়া,

ব্রাজিলপুজোতে অঞ্জলি দিয়েছিলো ঢালি,

কত মানসিক একান্ন টাকা,
তবু গোলখানা রয়ে গেলো ফাঁকা
হায়রে অফিস কামাই হলো খালি।

এতো কাপ আছে, এতো ডিশ আছে , তবুও বাঙালি তোর,
ব্রাজিল ঘিরেই যত স্বপ্ন,  তারই প্রেমেতে বিভোর।
কি জানি কি হলো আজি , কাঁদিয়া উঠিল প্রাণ,
দূর হতে শুনি পরের বিশ্বকাপের গান,
এখন ভুলিয়া দুঃখ তোর,
আসিবে আবার নতুন ভোর,
ভাঙ ভাঙ ভাঙ রে এ শাপ, আঘাতে আঘাত কর,
ব্রাজিল আবার আসিবে ফিরিয়া,
চারটি বছর পর !

এ নদীতে ভাঁটা আসে না
রাজর্ষি গাঙ্গুলি

ব্রাজিল হেরে গেছে কোয়ার্টার ফাইনালে বেলজিয়ামের কাছে। কেন হেরেছে, কি করলে জিততো, কে ভালো খেলেছে, কে খারাপ। অনেক কাঁটাছেড়া। চলছে। চলবেও। কিন্তু তাতে বাস্তব পালটাবে না। বিশ্বকাপে আর ব্রাজিল ফিরে আসবে না। অনেকেই দেখি বলছে, লাতিন আমেরিকার ফুটবল শেষ। এখন ইউরোপের ফুটবলের যুগ। তা হবে হয়তো। হয়তো ঠিক। আমি লাতিন আমেরিকায় আসছি না। আমি ব্রাজিলে আসি। 

ব্রাজিল বেলজিয়ামের কাছে হারার পর রিও দি জেনেইরো শহরের বস্তির অন্ধগলির বাচ্চাটা হাপুস নয়নে কেঁদেছে। কান্না থামার পর সব ভুলে ও আবার ফুটবলার হওয়ারই স্বপ্ন দেখবে। কারণ ওটা ব্রাজিল। ওখানে মানুষ ফুটবলে বাঁচে। ফুটবলেই স্বপ্ন দেখে। বলা হচ্ছে ‘গোল্ডেন জেনারেশন অব বেলজিয়াম’। ‘গোল্ডেন জেনারেশন অব ক্রোয়েশিয়া’। কখনও শুনেছেন কাউকে বলতে গোল্ডেন জেনারেশন অব ব্রাজিল? শুনবেন না। কারণ ব্রাজিলে যে শিশুটা দু’বেলা খেতে পায় না, সেও দিনের শেষে স্বপ্ন দেখে। একদিন বড় ফুটবলার হয়ে সব কষ্ট মুছে ফেলবে। ফুটবলটা ওখানে অনেকটা জল খাওয়ার মতো। বাঁচতে খেলে ফুটবলই খেলতে হবে। বাঁচতে হবে। জীবনযুদ্ধের একমাত্র অবলম্বন। ব্রাজিল ছাড়া আর কোন দেশ নেই যাঁদের কাছে ফুটবলটাই ফার্স্ট প্রাওরিটি।

 স্ট্রিট ফুটবল। ব্রাজিলে খুব বিখ্যাত। খুব। পিচের রাস্তা, অথবা ইটের। খালি পা। একটা তাপ্পি মারা ফুটবল। আর একঝাঁক স্বপ্নের ডানা মেলা। ব্রাজিলের বিখ্যাত সব ফুটবলাররা উঠে এসেছেন এই স্ট্রিট ফুটবল থেকে। এটা একটা প্রবাহ। নিরন্তর। মারাদোনা চলে যাওয়ার পর আর্জেন্টিনা বারবার মারাদোনাকে খুঁজেছে। যাঁকে আকড়ে ধরে স্বপ্ন দেখবে। বিশ্বজয়ের স্বপ্ন। পায়নি। বহুদিন পর একটা মেসি পেয়েছিলো আর্জেন্টিনা। আবার একটা জাদুকর। যে একাই জেতাতে পারে। এবার হলো না। তারপর? ভবিষ্যত? পরের মেসি? কবে আসবে? প্রশ্নচিহ্ন।

স্পেন। তিকিতাকা। সেই ২০১০। গোল্ডেন জেনারেশন। বিশ্বকাপ। তারপর দু’বার? উত্তর নেই। হঠাৎ করে একটা ইংল্যান্ড, একটা বেলজিয়াম, একটা ক্রোয়েশিয়া। ব্রাজিল কিন্তু তা নয়। ছোটবেলায় ব্রাজিল দেখা শুরু করেছিলাম রোনাল্ডো, রোনাল্ডিনহোকে দেখে। এখন সেটা নেইমার, কুটিনহো। তুলনায় না গেলেও একটা কথা বলাই যায়। শিল্প মরেনি। শিল্প মরতে পারে না। ইউরোপীয় ফুটবলের জয়োল্লাসের দিনেও ব্রাজিল থাকবে ব্রাজিল। 
নেইমারকে নিয়ে এতো সমালোচনা। ও নাকি শুধু নাটক করে। বিশ্বকাপের পরিসংখ্যান অনেক নামী দামি মহাতারকার থেকে এই বিশ্বকাপে নেইমার অনেক সপ্রতিভ। ছোটবেলা থেকে ব্রাজিল সমর্থক। ব্রাজিল হেরে যাওয়ায় খুব খারাপ লাগছে। কষ্ট হচ্ছে। সঙ্গে ভীষণ গর্বিত। একটা ম্যাচের মতো ম্যাচ উপহার দিয়ে বিদায় নিলো ব্রাজিল। বেলজিয়াম এই বিশ্বকাপের অন্যতম ফেভারিট। গোটা দ্বিতীয়ার্ধ নিজেদের পেনাল্টি বক্সে খেলে গেলো। কিন্তু ভালো খেলে হেরে যাওয়া অর্থহীন। বা্স্তব বলছে ব্রাজিল বিদায়।

অদ্ভুত খুশি হয়েছে কিছু মানুষ। অদ্ভুত উল্লাস। অনেকগুলো পোস্টে কমেন্ট করেও মুছে দিলাম। কারণ বয়স বাড়ছে। আমি জানি কথায় কথা বাড়ে। আর কাউকে কিছু বুঝিয়েও লাভ নেই। ব্রাজিলের হার কারা চাইছে? যাঁরা জানে ব্রাজিল ফুটবল ঘরানা শেষ হবে না। যাঁরা জানে ৭ গোলের খোঁটা হাজারবার দিলেও ব্রাজিলের সাফল্য তাঁদের নেই। যাঁরা জানে ব্রাজিল থামতে জানে না। যাঁরা জানে ব্রাজিল আবার ফিরবেই। যাঁরা জানে প্রতি বিশ্বকাপে কেউ না থাকুক ব্রাজিল ফেভারিট থাকবেই। যাঁরা জানে হাজার হাজার বার বললেও প্রমাণ করা যাবে না ব্রাজিল ফুটবল ঘরানা মরে গেছে। সাম্বার ছন্দ আর মন মাতায় না বলেও যাঁরা ব্রাজিলের খেলা না দেখে থাকতে পারেন না।

বিশ্বকাপের এখনও ৮ দিন বাকি। যাঁরা সমালোচনা করছে তাঁরাও জানে ফুটবল বিশ্বের একটা বড় অংশের কাছে বিশ্বকাপ শেষ। কারণ এটা ব্রাজিল। হয় পাগলের মতো সমর্থন করার জন্য। অথবা প্রতি মুহূর্তে হার চাওয়ার জন্য যাঁদের খেলা দেখতেই হয়। হয়তো দারুন খেলা দেখা যাবে। জয় দেখা যাবে। দারুন গোল। কিন্তু তাল, লয়, ছন্দ আর দেখা যাবে না। কারণ শিল্পী বিদায় নিয়েছে বিশ্বকাপ থেকে। 

যাঁরা ব্রাজিল হারে ভীষণ খুশি তাঁরাও জানে। যাঁরা ভেঙে পড়েছে তাঁরাও জানে। ব্রাজিল ফুটবলের মৃত্যু হয় না। কারণ কোন ঘরানা কখনও মরে না। বেঁচে থাকে প্রজন্মের পর প্রজন্মে। যুগের পর যুগ ধরে তৈরি করে সমর্থক। মুগ্ধ করে নিজের শিল্পশৈলীতে।
কাল হারের পর অফিসের ছাদে দাঁড়িয়ে ছিলাম। মাথায় ঘুরছিলো হারটা। তখন একটা লাইন মাথায় এলো। সেই লাইনটা লিখেই শেষ করলাম।
‘ব্রাজিল ফুটবল একটা নদীর মতো, যে নদীতে কখনও ভাঁটা আসে না।’

There were numerous jokes which were forwarded during the world cup for play acting by Neymar. Some of them are:

Neymarism : a psychological condition where the victim feels an uncontrollable urge to pretend or exaggerate hurt or injury to the level of deathlike pain, often through sheer imagination.

Uses : “ Can you believe it ! He neymared the claim agent again !”

“The public wont buy the Opposition’s neymaristic portrayal of our government’s accomplishments.”

“ For God’s sake ! will you stop neymaring about your boss ?”

After returning home we had some tea from Azarbeijan. I really liked it.


We took one of the boat rides along the river. It (SPB) is often called Venice of Russia. You get a different view of the city from the Neva river.


After that we left for Fifa fan Fest to see England vs Sweden match at 5 pm. It was really sunny. We had to stand beneath a shade and it was difficult to see the screen.

Huge queue to enter the Fanfest

After the match was over at 7 pm, we left for the Swan Lake Ballet, at Mikhailovsky theatre. We paid 45 Euro for each ticket. There are different tiers in the theatre. It is an exceptionally grand theatre. I have never seen anything like this. You cannot take pictures while the performance is going on. There are 3 intervals in the ballet. First interval is after 1 hour, has a 30 minutes break , the break after second interval is 20 minutes and last break is for 10 minutes. Thankfully there were two ballets - one on 6.7.18 and the other one on 7.7.18. I skipped the one on 6.7.18. for the Brazil match. It is important to read the synopsis of the swan lake ballet to enjoy the ballet more.

The place where musicians sit - little below the floor

During the interval I went out the theatre, to find out the score of the ongoing match between Russia vs Croatia.

Just outside the theatre two ladies watching the match in their mobile.
Inside the theatre one can have wine. It goes without saying, it is very expensive. The pictures were taken after the show was over.

After the ballet, we saw the match was not yet finished. People were watching the match from the windows of a bar, standing on the sidewalk - since there are no seats inside ! Almost everybody is watching the match. Some people were sitting on the side walk to see the match. I had no option but to see the thrilling the match, from the side walk. I cannot see the TV screen - because of the large crowd. Almost all the bars and restaurant has been converted into a mini stadium. Therefore, I saw the match in somebody's mobile, standing on the sidewalk. At least 5 people are watching the match from the same mobile ! We see “somewhat” similar kind of thing during cricket world cup in the streets of Kolkata. The match was a draw 2-2. Ultimately Russia lost in tie breaker 3-4.

It was a unique experience. Either people were looking at the mobile or  a TV screen inside the bar(through the window).  This time I found much more emotion, among the Russians, for the first time.The match ended at 12 am. I was supporting Russia.  

People watching the match on their mobile
After the match

We went to a super market at 1.40 am near our house, to buy some last minute stuff on the way back. Our body system changed like anything - we dont feel like it is so late.

08/07/2018 - 09/07/2019

We had to catch a fast train from Moscow Station (of SPB) at 11.30 am to go to Moscow (City). 

We reached Moscow at 3.53 pm. Our flight is at 7.10 pm. We got down at Leningradsky/Oktyabrskaya station at Moscow and took the brown line to go to  Belorusskaya station.   Then finally we took the green line to reach Rechnoi vogzal (second last station of green line) and from there we took a connecting bus to go to Moscow Airport . We could have taken Airport express also. We reached Delhi at 3 am at T3.  We took a free shuttle Bus to go to T2 of Delhi . Our Kolkata flight was 6.50 am and we reached there at 9.30 am.

After reaching Kolkata , I received a few interesting Videos.  

The President of Croatia, congratulating her Football team , after their stellar performance.

After the world cup a report was published in The Telegraph, what we can learn from Russia for organizing a tournament of this size, based on my input. Most of the pictures were taken by me too.

Interesting story of football is being made in West Bengal - which is now used all over the world cup.

Source :



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