‘Aditya remember, we have just started to open up and are therefore a bit shy. So don’t worry, we have a big heart. Don’t get scared and keep learning Russian, you will be ok!’ The advice of Elena Vaz Henriques my Russian friend and restauranteur from Goa, who had mentored me on the Russian psyche, rang through my mind every day as I got onto my bike. Today, as I ride, it reminds me again.
The last 1000 kilometres to Moscow were full of road repair, traffic jams and big city ills. Everyone wanted to go to Moscow. The weather was cool. I had booked myself in a city center Hotel- Agios, and was looking forward to a week of city tourism. As I ride into the city, all cars turned their attention onto me at traffic signals. Some were waving and some clicking. Some asked me about my journey and one got out to take a selfie. This sure was a glamorous way to enter Moscow. It upped the excitement.
Center city road repairs challenged my navigator approach to the hotel and I had to take a few rounds to find an entry through the road repair signs. I was staying near the River Mosckva, from where the city got its name.
The hotel was simple and very effective and my room was a bit bigger than my bike. For the price and location it was a good trade-off. Checking in was made easier with the tourist friendly reception and I changed into my civvies to take a walk in Moscow.
I called my sis-in-las, Asya Affants and set up my meetings with the Tourism Department.
This was again strange destiny, my maternal cousin brother had recently got engaged to an Armenian girl, from Moscow, who had spent her youth in India. She was in Moscow during my journey and helped me to get in and get out of Russia!
She took me to the Red Square and the Kremlin and the famous Musuem-Church and the huge Park with the tribute to the WW veterans and the GUM shopping plaza, where I finally found a Barbour jacket. The Barbour jacket is also made for Triumph bikers and was worn by Daniel Craig in The climax of Skyfall. It’s a highly stylised in-city biking wear, made of waxed cotton and leather. I was looking out for this jacket for a year.
A visit to the club of the Moto Federation was electric. The entire decor was of steel and iron. If you have seen Waterworld-the movie you will understand. Bikers from the NightWolves had invited me and six fat bikes had escorted me to the Club.
Later, I had an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda the powerful news organ of Russia. They were most curious about my ride and reception from Russia. I asked them to help to streamline the visa procedure and watch how bikers flock to the Trans Siberian.
A visit to the country House of my friend, Mr. Vladimir Dementiev completed the out of Moscow tourism. Mr. Dementiev was the Director at the Russian House of Culture in Mumbai and had advised and orchestrated my visa procedures. Just completing an eight year stint in India, he luckily was in Moscow. He served me traditional Russian fare.
My last night stay was an invite to the Hotel Azimuth, kind courtesy the JaiHind Restaurant. Vijay Subramaniam filled me up with south Indian food for a lifetime. I finished with Mysore Pak and on this sweet note, left Moscow the next day.
A hundred kilometres away is an Ashram of my Guru at Zaluchnoye and I spent a night there. A few Russian devotees came to meet me and we had a lively Satsangh. I stayed at a devotee Jayshree and Uma Shankars’ house in the absolute middle of a forest.
I rode out towards the border and made my last stop at a fuel station motel. I thought I should get to the border fresh in the morning.
Burachki is a nice border facility. Extremely efficient and polite they took my documents and asked me to wait to check my bike papers, etc. A man in a car behind me came up and asked me where am I riding from.
I told him Vladivostok.