Sparrow Hills is one of the highest points in Moscow. As our coach stopped and we came out, Mr. Take It Easy’s loud voice could be heard haranguing the tour manager. Oh wait. You haven’t been introduced to Mr. Take It Easy, (Not his real name, but one coined by me!). He was a fellow traveler with our group and was pissed off because the tour manager had stated we had only fifteen minutes to spend at Sparrow Hills. ‘What is this?’ he was heard asking in loud tones. ‘Just fifteen minutes! What can we see in fifteen minutes? Blah blah blah blah…‘
The tour manager tried to tell him that we had to be at the Kremlin at the allotted time, and before that there was lunch to be had too. Since the heavy traffic on the roads of Moscow had somewhat eaten eaten into our time -and will again on the way back – we had to hurry things up a bit. But Mr. Take it Easy was having none of it. After letting off steam for a while he ended it all with, brace yourself, ‘Never mind. Take it easy! Take it easy!’ I raised my internal eyebrows to their maximum at this volte-face. First he creates a ruckus, and then he tells the other person who was Calmness Personified herself, to take it easy. The irony!
Getting back to Sparrow Hills, there is an observation platform there which gives a sweeping view of the Moscow city. Tsar Alexander had wanted to build the Cathedral of Christ the Savior at Sparrow Hills. But that didn’t work out due to many reasons, and the cathedral came up instead near the Kremlin. As we walked towards the platform enjoying the view, I saw these white pigeons on the half-wall, and quickly started clicking. A young man standing nearby waved his hand to indicate I should stop. They belonged to him, to sell or to show off, I had no idea. Well, there were other things to photograph too, so I nodded and moved on.
An ice cream seller’s cart could be seen, and some of our group hurried over for ice creams. After all it was a pretty warm day. No sign at all of the chill we were warned about by Mother Google. Across the observation platform, separated from it by a highway, stood the Moscow State University building in all its splendor, which incidentally, is one among the Seven Sisters of Moscow City and till late 1990s was THE tallest building in all of Europe. Interesting, eh? The Seven Sisters are a group of seven skyscrapers built in what is known as Stalinist style and are: Hotel Ukraina, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel, the main building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main building of Moscow State University, and the Red Gates Administrative Building.
When I turned around after taking pictures of the State University building, who do I see, but Luci crossing the highway and bounding towards me…. Luci!!!!!! What was SHE doing here 6270 kilometers (That’s 3895.997 miles) away from home?! Was I in a dream, not at Moscow at all? Or had Luci followed me to Moscow? But, how?!!! I knew for a fact that she didn’t have a passport. No passport means no visa, and to get past those unsmiling, inscrutable faces at immigration without the necessary documents was Next To Impossible. I was also pretty certain she wasn’t a Houdini or even a Benjamin Button. The latter because she was looking like a younger version of herself. Mysterious, the whole thing. Being a rational person though, I had to conclude that it had to be another dog.
He was Bomber. I asked the girls he was with if I could pet him. Like any proud parent, I then shared with them my phone screen picture of Luci. ‘Oh, she looks just like Bomber!‘ the girls exclaimed in unison. See why I was flummoxed for a moment there? While I was busy scratching Bomber behind his ears, one of the girls quipped, ‘Do you eat dogs?‘ The huge grin on her face should have been a dead giveaway. But it didn’t register with me. ‘Of course not!’ I retorted in all seriousness, horrified she should ask me such a question when I had just showed her my dog’s picture. ‘I was teasing you!’ she replied, giggling. Bomber, who was just five months old and still a puppy, was by then taking an undue interest in the people having ice-creams. So the girls left quickly, leading Bomber away from temptation.
Our fifteen minutes at Sparrow Hill had actually turned to half an hour, and we hoped Mr Take It Easy had had his fill of Sparrow Hills. That rhymed, eh? We were glad to get back into the bus away from the hot sun beating down on us. Yo lunch, here we come!
Now, the pictures.
© Shail Mohan 2019