Tanya and I were finding somewhere to sit and eat lunch. We were walking through Red Square and decided to sit on the grass at the foot of the Kremlin’s north wall with a view of the famous amazing multi-onion domed church. We were just seated when a man came up and flashed a state security badge at us. We weren’t permitted to sit this close to the Kremlin Wall. Tanya was a little taken aback. She asked to see his badge again. I was also a little confused as only yesterday afternoon had I sat in a spot nearby with Andrei to watch the early evening sun strike dramatically on the multi-coloured onion domes. Anyway we moved on and later as we were walking along the Moscovian back streets through Kitay Gorad (China City) we passed a guy drinking seated on the footpath against the wall. He yelled something at me as we passed. Tanya laughed and translated. He’d said ” Welcome Mr Australian to Russia! I would very much like to visit your country and play with your kangaroos!” Tanya was not as surprised as I was. Apparently it is a game amongst Russians to guess the nationalities of foreigners. And they revel in the glory of getting it right. I don’t know what it was. Maybe my old waxed canvas hat. While technically not Australian it’s style sort of is. I was quietly pleased that my presence was noted, deep on street as it were.
Tanya in her breezy summer dress and child-like smile, led me over the Moscow River onto Bolotny Island and into the ‘happening’ Zamoskvorechye District. We made a bee line to the State Tretyakov Gallery. I was especially taken by ‘mood landscapes’ of Isaac Ilyich Levitan (Исаа́
82; Ильи́m 5; Левит
72;́н) (1860 – 1900). His landscapes, so intense and surreal. The piece called ‘Over Eternal Quiet’ (1894) was so moving that I simply didn’t want to move so that I could continue to feel the world moving inside me softly and torridly. And then Tanya took me to see the many and varied works of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel (Михаи 69;л Алекс
72;́ндро&# 1074;ич Вру́бk 7;ль) (1856 – 1910). And as Tanya explained, to my question of how to define him, “Well, it’s just Vrubel. Simple as that!. There’s no other epithet.” I was especially taken by ‘Demon Seated in a Garden’ (1890).
From the Tretyakov Gallery we submerged ourselves into the people’s gallery of the Moscow underground metro. We had to rush to the Novaya Opera for Tanya’s rehearsal for this evening’s ballet performance of Romeo & Juliet. I was invited by Tanya and apparently there was a ticket waiting for me. But when we arrived it wasn’t waiting for Tanya as she had instructed the administration. So she jotted some notes on a scrap of paper and asked me to wait in the ticket office queue to collect it.
I spent a couple of hours people watching in the Hermitage Gardens before moving in to watch the performance.