Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 09:43:42 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Of poets and royal treasures:

Spoils of Russian tsars and Pushkin

The spoils of Russian tsars will take a lifetime to go through and appreciate. But, it's easier to find sustenance in the country's favourite poet, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

The spoils of Russian tsars will take a lifetime to go through and appreciate. But, it's easier to find sustenance in the country's favourite poet, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
photo by

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Preeti Verma Lal :
Remember, no one smiles in Russia. Never smile at the babushkas. Do not smile at all. I had just hopped off the 1,068 ft long, 145,656 tonne Norwegian Getaway cruise liner when Alexsey, our guide, belched instructions. The St Petersburg sky wore a doleful grey and tubby raindrops fell briskly on the bus windowpane. “Wait, did you forget your sunglasses?” Alexsey hooted. Sunglasses on a day so dour? I knitted the brows. “You will need sunglasses to cut the blinding gold-glare at Catherine’s Palace. 100kg of pure gold, cupolas gilded in gold, chairs, tables and picture frames, golden carvings, chandeliers, angel figurines - everything in gold,” he quipped.
As the bus crawled through 800 bridges and 8,000 landmarks of St Petersburg towards the town of Pushkin, fellow tourists turned geeky mathematicians. Price of 100 kg of gold in 1756. Russian ruble. Dollars. Euros. They swiftly added, multiplied, divided to assess how much Catherine I spent on the 325-metre long palace. Tsars do not count cheddar, do they? I wanted to scuttle all mathematics on the bus, but my mind was beeping pentameters. A love poem. “I keep in mind that magic moment, When you appeared before my eyes, Like ghost, like fleeting apparition, Like genius of the purest grace…” Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Russia’s greatest poet’s most famous poem. It was not a random thought - I was in the town named after Pushkin. And he was there. Sitting lazily on a bench near Catherine's Palace with yellow oak leaves gathered at his feet in tribute.
I walked past his statue to the Palace, so huge that I squinted my eyes to fit its 325-long belly into one frame - its azure and white stucco facade, the onion cupolas of the chapel and its thousands of statues. I squinted again to decipher why Empress Catherine the Great described it as ‘whipped cream’ architecture. Cream, no. It was unending gold in the rooms where once queens in velvet and kings in breeches waltzed, played cards, dined on pirozhki, vatrushka, chebureki, frikadeller and snoozed under bright chandeliers and painted walls.Catherine's Palace is so ornate that it can even tempt a hermit. But nothing is more alluring than the Amber Room, a wall panelled with precious amber currently valued at roughly 400 million dollars. The amber dazzles the eye, its ostentation a reminder of the extravagance of the Russian tsars which the Germans burnt and vandalised during World War II.
Afterwards, I drove past Tikhvin Cemetery in Alexander Nevsky Monastery, where writer Fyodor Dostoyvesky and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky are buried. On the streets, I could hear the footsteps of Vladimir Nobokov (the creator of Lolita) who lived in St Petersburg until the age 18, and of Alexander Blok, the poet who wrote the lyrical The Twelve.
I wanted to walk to Nikolai Gogol's house, but the master was waiting in The Hermitage, perhaps the world's largest museum with three million artifacts (the numismatic collection accounts for one-third of them) displayed in nearly 400 rooms spread over three floors of six interlinked historic buildings. The Hermitage houses the former imperial collection of the tsars, which began some 300 years ago when Peter the Great started acquiring pictures and artefacts; the collection was later hugely augmented in the late 18th century by Catherine the Great.
I stood in front of van Gogh's White House at Night, an oil on canvas painting created on June 16, 1890, barely six weeks before his death. The Hermitage describes it as an expression of the “great psychological tension under which van Gogh found himself…” I looked at the red roof and bright star and tried to gauge Gogh’s anguish. I had to forego Rembrandt’s depiction of forgiveness in his 1669 painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. I had no time. If I stared at each of the three million artefacts in The Hermitage for only 30 seconds each, it would take eight years. I had to return to the ship to sail to Helsinki.
As Pushkin said: “As the years are fleeting, And however many there seem to be, We must all go under the eternal vault…” Not the eternal vault. Not yet. Just the blue of the sea. And Pushkin.

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

HC verdict is well meaning: Hospitals must appreciate

THE High Court ordered hospitals and clinics not to hold body of a deceased if his or her family fails to immediately pay the medical bill to release the body. It has also asked the Health Secretary and the Director General of the Directorate of Health Services to issue a ...

International »

Putin, Assad for political solution to Syria`s conflict

Reuters, Moscow  :Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to talk about the need to move from military operations to the search for a political solution to Syria's conflict, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.Russia is actively trying to build an international consensus around a peace deal for Syria, ...

Sports »

A scene from the opening ceremony of the Omicon Group 43rd National A Chess Championship held at Bangladesh Chess Federation hall-room on Tuesday.

Sports »

Sharapova named in India luxury housing fraud probe

AFP, New Delhi :Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova is under investigation in India for cheating and criminal conspiracy after the collapse of a luxury housing project that she endorsed, police and a lawyer said Tuesday.The firm behind the development is alleged to have taken millions of dollars from homebuyers ...

Entertainment »

Janhvi dazzles at IFFI in ethnic wear

Janhvi Kapoor who is all set mark her Bollywood debut with Karan Johar’s Dhadak opposite Ishaan Khatter makes a dazzling entry at 48th IFFI 2017 in Goa. Janhvi was accompanied by her mother Sridevi and father Boney Kapoor. Janhvi looked elegant wearing Anamika Khanna lehenga choli. It is probably Janhvi’s ...

City »

Uphold image of Armed Forces: President

President M Abdul Hamid on Tuesday asked the members of Armed Forces to uphold their image at national and international levels by ensuing utmost professionalism. "Uphold the image of the armed forces . . . Help continue the country's ongoing development trend in the days to come," President's Press Secretary ...

Editorial »

Use of toxic tannery wastes in poultry feed

MEDIA reports said an increasing number of poultry feed mills using dangerously toxic tannery wastes laced with poisonous chemicals as raw materials remain the biggest threat to public health. They are moreover flouting is a ban of the High Court for producing and marketing the toxic feed for animals which ...

International »

Putin plan to rejuvenate Russian politics makes slow progress

Reuters, Moscow :Poised to run for a fourth term, President Vladimir Putin has started clearing out the old Russian political elite and says he's bringing in young people with "fire in their eyes."But a Reuters analysis shows that he has made limited progress so far.In the run up to March ...

Sports »

Participants run during the Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India on Sunday. Ethiopia's Birhanu Legese and Almaz Ayana won the men's and women's elite categories, respectively.

Entertainment »

Bollywood congratulates Manushi Chillar on winning Miss World crown

After a wait of 17 long years, Indian model Manushi Chhillar has won the Miss World crown. Since yesterday’s announcement, many Bollywood celebs and public figures have congratulated her on winning the prestigious event. Here are some endearing messages from Bollywood celebs: The Megastar of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan congratulated Manushi ...

Entertainment »

Runa Khan coming with her first movie

Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Most of her colleagues always appreciate the acting of Runa Khan. There is no other alternative or choice of her in TV plays. So she has acceptability among the directors. Viewers also like her acting. Runa will entertain the viewers by virtue of her acting skill with ...

City »

BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia cutting cake marking birthday of BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman at her Gulshan office in the city on the early hours of Monday.

National »

GAFFARGAON: Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of Muktijodha Sanghati Parishad Major (Retd.) Md Rezaul Karim, a veteran freedom fighter and an Awami League leader addressing a meeting on his participation in the coming National Election as a candidate from Awami League in the election area Mymensingh-10 (Gaffargaon & Pagla PS) Primary School field, Gaffargaon on Friday. Among others, freedom fighter Mofazzal Hossain, Auditor (retd.) Alhaj Abdul Karim and Ex Ward Member Saiful Islam also spoke in the meeting at Charalgi (Nidiar Char) .

Editorial »

Higher production capacity for power plants

THE state-owned power plants can't generate electricity to a minimum of their stated capacity as they lack improved technology, besides management failure to achieve the highest output as per a report in The New Nation on Sunday. The report quoting Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said its power plants can ...

International »

Hariri announces return to Lebanon as crisis simmers

AP, Paris :Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he will return home in the coming days from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making a strange resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon.Hariri and his family met Saturday ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news