The Master and Margarita

With Nataya’s scrumptious breakfast no more, we had to fend for ourselves and find a blini place for breakfast. While in Saint-Petersburg, they were dime in a dozen, and all great at that, in Moscow it proved somewhat challenging to find one, and when we finally did, it was so-so and overpriced.
After blini, we went to the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, an exhibition space I read about in the US. Well, the exhibition space is only as good as the exhibits it houses, and the present exhibits were one video exhibit and one – an installation.
We saw an exhibit by James Turrell, an American artist,, and skipped the video exhibit. I don’t usually love installation, but Turrell’s work was amusing.
Still, I was hoping for Russian and not American artists.
After the Garage, we split. Lisa and Adam went to another exhibit space at Winzavod (a former liquor plant), and the Russian speakers went to the Bulgakov House, and embarked on a tour that started at the miniature Bulgakov museum and from there continued to the sites mentioned in The Master and Margarita.
That was my highlight in Moscow!
We sat on a bench at the Patriarch Ponds, where the Devil first appeared in the novel; walked on Bronnaya where the hapless Berlioz met his end; passed by the Griboedov and Margarita’s mansion; walked on Tverskaya, where the Master first saw her carrying those disgusting, disturbing yellow flowers, and finished up in the Bad Apartment, from which the Devil and his retinue wreaked havoc in Moscow circa 1932.
The Master in Margarita, being one of my favorite novels, if not the favorite, came to life here.
Aside from the pure pleasure of following in the footsteps of my beloved characters, the site of the Patriarch’s Ponds was delightful, and Malaya Bronnaya was the most pleasant street in Moscow thus far – all cleaned up, freshly painted, with several upscale shops, cafes, and restaurants, and well-dressed people stralling by.
I said goodbye to Koroviev and Behemoth, the goofy pair frozen in bronze outside the museum, went to the Arbat, took a picture with another bronzed idol of mine, Bulat Okudzhava, and headed to Winzavod to meet the kids.
Winzavod is a great space but it has not happened yet. Most of the galleries were not yet opened, but it was pleasant to simply sit in a courtyard on some sort of hammocks, and chill out.
Conclusion: I still think that Moscow is a bore of a city. Granted, if I had to live in Russia today, I would probably pick Moscow, it being more westernized, civilized, and green. It does have the Bolshoi Ballet and a multitude of great theaters. But aesthetically, it has no chance. The architecture is incorrigible, there are very few truly beautiful places, and the proportions in the Soviet era districts (which is most of Moscow) are totally off. Soviet monstrosities overwhelm the city.
I do hope that St. Petersburg will retain its rightful place in the hierarchy of Russian cities, and that the pyshki shop will hold off against the onslaught of high real estate prices, and be there for me forever and ever.


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