M for Metro

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If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can start with these:
1. In the beginning was a flag-bearer
2. The uneventful first day
3. The story of a cathedral
4. Sparrow Hills and Bomber
5. Lunching with the birds
6. K for Kremlin – 1
7. K for Kremlin – 2

And then we went to see the Metro.

Metro? Who wants to see the Metro? It’s just a station and some trains making a racket, running up and down at speed. Right? May be of interest to those who have never ever seen the subway. But why would a group of people who have already been to different parts of the world (some among us were seasoned travelers, having been to quite a few countries) and used the metro rail many times over be interested in spending a morning visiting the metro stations while touring Moscow?

Good question.

The answer is quite simple. The stations in Moscow are unique and quite unlike any other in the world. Our guiding stars Prerana and Anna ‘herded’ us through a few of them. Please don’t ask me which ones they were, the names are all muddled up inside my head. Marveling at the marble pillars, stained glass, and ornate sculptures took the whole of my attention that the names just slipped through and got lost. (Excuses, excuses!)

If any of you are interested to learn more, Wiki has a page on Moscow Metro. My intent is to show you the grandeur of these ‘palaces built for the people’ and for that I shall rely on some of the pictures I hurriedly took with my phone while we went from one station to the next. Feast your eyes!

Partizanskaya station from where we boarded the metro.
Lenin on the roof

There were so many people around, regular commuters, wage earners and the salaried class, as also tourists, individually and in large groups like ours. The local people seemed to be quite used to the presence of the excited tourists who blocked their path while trying to get a better look, and also a better picture, of the adorned walls.

The highlight of this tour, apart from the magnificence of it all, are two in number. The first: A Sikh gentleman, a member of our group, was stopped by a stranger who politely requested for a photo with him. The kind-hearted, tall and handsome Sardar, who stood out in the crowd with his turban and long kurta, obliged with a self conscious smile. Apparently the man who approached him had spent considerable time in Punjab and had a soft spot for Sikh people.

The second: I almost got lost. I had just clicked a picture and turned around to find myself surrounded by a crowd of excitedly chattering Chinese tourists. Not a familiar face in sight! The ear-piece we wore connecting us to the flag-bearer Anna was apparently too far to pick up a signal. Besides there were trains shrieking in and out of the station making hearing anything impossible.

I cursed myself for listening to those who suggested there was no need of a local sim card (‘we could always use the WiFi in the hotel!’). How was I going to find where my group was? Had they got into a train already? Would I have to make my way back to the hotel on my own? But where and how was I going to start? I wished I had started on my Russian earlier than I did, which was like a day before leaving for Moscow.

Just then I caught a glimpse of a familiar face disappearing behind one of the huge pillars that separated the platform from the central corridor. Gotcha! Relieved, I bounded over, and after making sure it was indeed my group, I stood behind them. No one had missed me, not yet. But I had found them. Phew. You see, this was no time to get lost, because soon we were to return to the hotel, collect our bags and leave for St Petersburg.

Ah, beautiful, beautiful St Petersburg! But that is a story for another day.

© Shail Mohan 2019