Monday, 22 September 2008

news from Moscow

Hello from sunny Moscow. We have been here four days in perfect anticyclone weather. Tomorrow we leave on the first stage of our Siberian adventure. This is my first ever blog from foreign parts, and I feel like a sputnik voyaging in virgin territory. Moscow is amazing. Enough said.

Our journey began in Chaos at St. Pancras following the Tunnel fire. We got their hours early, queued in an immense line snaking out to Euston road; suddenly we were rushed forward to take the last few seats on the Brussels train, upgraded to first class, and were soon quaffing complimentary wine and tucking in to a delicious free meal. Having arrived in the Flemish capital six hours earlier than expected, and rejoicing in our good fortune, we had beer and frites on the Grand'place, with its Renaissance splendours .

Our train to Berlin left at midnight, and we were soon having breakfast on the fabulous new Hauptbahnhof in that city, a stone's throw from the Reichstag.

More train all day to Krakow where we stayed two nights, and witnessed the opening of the new Buddhist centre in the Kazimierz quarter of that city by our teacher Sangharakshita. This is the old Jewish part of town. My father(not Jewish) was from Krakow, and my mother lived there for several years before the war before moving into a ghetto; having escaped from the ghetto as it began to be 'liquidated' , she moved back to Krakow on forged 'Aryan papers'. A year later she was arrested and taken to Auschwitz where she remained until the death marches out of the camp in January of 1945. She was shunted around the Reich in the last chaotic months of the war before being liberated in Mecklenburg. She made her way back to Krakow through the immediate post-war chaos that reigned in those parts. A year later, as no-one from her family returned, she came to London, and on her first evening met my father in Chelsea through a common acquaintance. My father had arrived in London as a refuge in 1940.

I've been very emotionally tied up with the founding of the Krakow Buddhist centre, and wish it well.
From Krakow we took the train to Warsaw, and then overnight to Moscow. Crossing the border into Byelorus our carriages are taken mysteriously into a huge shed where massive machines in the dead of night lift us into the air whilst the bogeys are changed beneath us to another guage. And then on to Moscow where we have been staying in a youth hostel. Yes 'youth'!

My travelling companions are David and Joanna, Buddhist friends from Bethnal Green.

We are all very well , and in good spirits .
Many many thanks, Ed, for setting up this blog for me! I feel as though I have belatedly arrived in the 21st century.

Best wishes to you all. x mahananda